Crystal River is a small city located in the Citrus County, Florida. With a population of not more than 4000, Crystal River is considered one of the smallest and most beautiful eco tourism destinations. The city is known as the ‘Home of the Manatee’. The manatee itself is an endangered aquatic species and has found a natural habitat in the Crystal River from where the city got its name.
Crystal River is a much visited tourist destination, and every year, thousands of nature lovers pay this small hamlet a visit. Crystal River represents the two extremes of the modern day society. Where on one hand the city is home to the manatees and has many preserves and state parks, the city also has a nuclear power plant, one of the most advanced in the country.
Tourism in Crystal River
The City of Crystal River got its name from the Crystal River that runs through it. The river is about 6 mile long and gets its water from 30 springs that lie interspersed along its course. The river way connects the Gulf of Mexico with Kings Bay. Where the river finally meets the bay, aquatic life becomes extremely diverse. The climate of the area also allows the aquatic life to flourish. In this particular area, tourists can also indulge in water sports and other water activities like snorkeling, diving and fishing. Some of the more popular activities in this area include swimming, water skiing and boating.
The meeting of the river and the bay also makes this city truly picturesque, due to which it has been given the distinction of the Gem of the Nature Coast.
History of Crystal River
The Crystal River area was always an extremely beautiful one. Even when the European settlements were not so commonplace in North America, the native Americans knew that the resources of this area were valuable. Crystal River was inhabited by ancient America civilizations, the marks of which are often found in the city even today.
It is believed that the mystic Deptford culture was propagated in the present day Crystal River for hundreds of years. Evidences have also been found of the Weedon Island culture and the Safety Harbor Culture, all of which vanished much before our times. Many of the sites of these ancient cultures have been excavated by the archeological bodies. The Crystal River State Archeological Site is home to many such excavations. As visitors sail down the Crystal River, they can often catch glimpses of the many mounds and sites.
Crystal River - Home of the Manatees
Crystal River offers a natural habitat to the West Indian Manatees. These are large animals that are well loved all over the world. These large marine mammals feed on underwater vegetation. They usually migrate to Crystal River from the Gulf of Mexico, where they live in large and mid sized colonies. During winters, when the Gulf becomes chilly, they travel through the Crystal River to spend their winters in the King’s Bay Area. The spring fed water, which remains a steady 72 degrees, is ideal for the manatees.
Since the Manatees are listed as an endangered species, they can only be seen in preserves and enclosures. However, Crystal Water is the only place in the entire country where people can interact with the Manatees in their natural habitat. Both swimming and snorkeling with these friendly marine mammals, are legal in the city of Crystal Water. The neighboring Homosassa and Crystal River together make up for the largest gatherings of Manatees in the entire continent.