CLIO, Ala. (WSFA) - If you’re looking for a place to cool off this summer, head out to Blue Springs State Park in Clio, Alabama. With water that stays 68 degrees year round, it’s a perfect place to escape from the Alabama heat.
“In the park, the ’60s, the park was an acquisition by the state,” said park manager Jim Shepard. “It’s always been a famous swimming hole for locals, and it caught the attraction of quite a few people, so they wanted to make it a State Park, and make it for everyone.”
Tucked away in the Wiregrass region, the park’s two pools are the big draw for visitors. They are fed by a crystal-clear spring located inside an underground cave.
"The water levels really don't fluctuate that much, so even if you're in a drought, it doesn't drop," said Shepard. "It really doesn't go up in heavy rains either - it's always about same."
The underground aquifers from the cave pump out 3,600 gallons per minute, and all that water flows directly into the Choctawhatchee River, which gives kids a chance to explore some of the plants and wildlife that make their homes in or near the streams.
"You can see deer, different breeds of fish," said Shepard. "We have a species of crawfish that Troy University found. This is the only place that it has ever been found."
Although the pools are the main attraction, Blue Springs also offers hiking, camping and fishing, among other activities. And in case you're wondering: yes, you can dive into those ice cold pools when the weather isn't so warm.
"In the wintertime, we don't have as many swimmers, but we do have a group that comes on the first of January every year. They jump in the water for New Years," said Shepard. "They say the water feels great; I haven't tried it myself, but maybe one day."
With a variety of things to keep visitors busy, Blue Springs is the perfect place for families and friends to spend an afternoon, even during a pandemic. Shepard says as long as people are following the rules of social distancing and respecting others' space, the park will remain open.
"We do require people to wear a mask when they come into the park," said Shepard. "They have to present it, and they have a mask. But, there are exemptions, like of course when swimming, you don't have to wear one, and you don't have to wear while you're hiking or running. We're just taking precautions to try to keep everybody safe."
Park fees are $1.00 for children ages 4-11 and seniors 62 and older. Fees for visitors ages 12-61 are $4.00. Blue Springs State Park is open year round, with hours varying from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Oct. 1 through Feb 28, and extending to a 7 p.m. close from March 1 to Sept. 30.