Number 19 on our Deployment Bucket List was to visit a state park that we had never been to before.
Even though I lived in Northwest Florida for more than 20 years before I married into the Army I had never visited many of the state parks in the area. I guess it’s just something you always think you’ll get around to and never do, but since it was on my list, I had to go to one, obviously.
We decided on Falling Waters State Park in Chipley since it was a short drive away. Here are 3 things to look for once you get there!
Falling Waters State Park covers 171 acres of land and is home to several sinkholes. These big fern and moss-covered pits are visible from the boardwalk that leads back to the waterfall.
National Geographic defines a sinkhole as a hole in the ground that forms when water dissolves surface rock. They can range from a few feet in diameter to several acres!
According to the internet, the sinkholes in Northwest Florida were once used as hideouts by Native Americans during the Seminole Wars. There have been artifacts found in the park that date back thousands of years.
Falling Waters State Park claim to fame is that it contains the highest waterfall in the state of Florida!
Unlike other waterfalls, this one, at 73 feet high, flows into a sinkhole. And it’s a mystery where the water eventually ends up.
I was told before we went to the park that we might want to call ahead and make sure that there is water flowing over the fall. Apparently, in times of drought or low water table, the waterfall is little more than a trickle.
The day we went, there wasn’t a ton of water raging over the fall, but it was enough to impress the kids and show up in the pictures I took. According to park rangers, the waterfall is best right after a heavy rain.
After snapping some pictures at the waterfall and enjoying it’s cool mist, we continued along the boardwalk to the lake. The kids had a blast swimming and playing on the sandy beach.
There was even a ‘professional’ sand-castle-builder there building an elaborate sand castle.
The lake at the park would be a great place to let the kids practice canoeing, kayaking, or paddle boarding on their own. It’s a fairly small lake and you don’t have to worry about motorized boats or jet skis.
If I had been a more efficient and thoughtful trip planner, I would have brought a picnic for us to eat and plenty of drinks for the kids, since there are several picnic tables at the lake. However, I’m rarely that thoughtful or efficient. So we had to drag the soggy, but thirsty kids out of the lake to go get something to eat.
We changed in the public bathrooms at the park (which were very clean) and called it a day.
I highly recommend this park to anyone in the area! For $5, we saw the tallest waterfall in the state and had a fun afternoon of swimming!