Ravine Gardens State Park

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Time often gets away from us so quickly. It’s hard to believe our oldest is nearing the end of her college time in Palatka. We had so many aspirations of all the visits we would make to see her, and the new places we would get to explore. One of those places is Ravine Gardens State Park. Finally, after almost 2 years, we decided to head there, since Emma’s friends were going there for a photo shoot. We’re so glad we did! 

UPDATE: Be sure to look for all our updates from our visit in February of 2020.

Entrance to the State Park

Columns of stone pillars at entrance of Ravine Gardens State Park

As we entered the 146 acre state park, we were greeted by these beautiful stone pillars, and monument. This is the only parking area, due to the 1.8 mile “drive through” being closed. The park has a lot of damage from recent hurricanes, so there are still some areas too eroded and dangerous. UPDATE: The drive through is now back open!!

Stone fountain at Ravine Gardens State Park

That was fine with us, since we planned to walk some trails, and enjoy the beautiful day. Our walk started out in the garden, built in the 1930’s to help boost tourism to the area during The Great Depression. 

I tried to get some pictures to show the 120 feet deep ravines, but you can’t really see how it goes down. 

Stone stairway to ravine

There are several American Rustic architectural stairways, arches, and landscape enhancements that lead down toward the ravine, suspension bridges, and the hiking trails. 

UPDATE: We returned for a visit in February 2020, and it was closer to peak azalea blooming, therefore we got more pretty pictures.

Hiking Trails

Azalea Trail sign at Ravine Gardens State Park

Ravine Garden State Park is most notably known for its 2.5 mile Azalea Trail. Azaleas bloom during tourist season, which is why the flower was chosen to be the theme flower for the park. The Federal Emergency Relief Administration planted over 95,000 azalea plants by the end of 1934. How crazy is that? 

Sadly we just missed peak bloom, which tops out with about 50 – 60% of the plants blooming simultaneously. There were only a couple stray, late bloomers left for us to see. A survey was recently conducted and eighteen different types of azaleas were documented. We will definitely keep this in mind for next year!! 

UPDATE: During our February 2020 visit, it was much closer to peak bloom of the azaleas. Below you can see the difference from our video.

Suspension Bridge #1

Side view of suspension bridge at Ravine Gardens State Park

Our trail walking began at one of the two suspension bridges. 

Of course, we had to stop and get some pictures. 

Check out some of these stairways along the trails. You can see why it’s considered strenuous, with these uneven, broken steps. 

We made it another picture stop.

The trail we followed led us down to the bottom of the ravine, and to Whitewater Branch, the spring fed creek. 

Heading upstream, Emma decided to put her feet in the water and take a break. 

Stream and bridge at Ravine Gardens Park

Going back upstream, we ended up back under the suspension bridge we walked across. 

Suspension Bridge #2

Suspension bridge in Ravine Gardens State park

UPDATE: During our second visit, we walked more trails we missed the first time, so we came across the second suspension bridge.

The concrete stairway leading down to the bridge is pretty steep. Azaleas of many different colors were abundantly in bloom, and close together. Bridge pictures were a must here too.

hiking trail in Ravine Garden State Park

After walking across the bridge, we hiked along the trail for a bit. These trails are very narrow and slanted.

Selfie with azaleas in Palatka, Florida

We were also able to access a walkway to the drive through loop road that was closed. We walked a little up there, and got to see more fully bloomed azalea bushes.

Ravine Gardens State Park Springs

Girl standing in springs at Ravine Garden State Park

After a little walking, we came to the springs, the source of Whitewater Branch Creek.

Springs at Ravine Gardens State Park

Over thousands of years, it has been these springs feeding the creek, and carrying sand to the St John’s River, creating the ravines. Pretty amazing!! 

Bridge inside Ravine Gardens State Park

Some of us were starting to get hangry, and too sweaty, so we headed back to the bridge and up the pathway. 

Ravine Gardens State Park has received considerable recognition for its beauty. Such as “Nation’s Outstanding CWA Project” in 1937, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999, and “National Landmark for Outstanding Landscape Architecture” by the American Society of Landscape Architects. 

Ravine Gardens State Park Entrance sign

Now Emma can’t believe it took her so long to get to the ravines, but she looks forward to spending more time there before moving away. As for me, I hope to get back soon. Such a different state park in Florida. Not what you would think to find with deep ravines, and steep walking trails.  

Amphitheater in Ravine Gardens State Park

UPDATE: In addition to seeing more azaleas during our second visit, we also walked some new areas we didn’t get to the first time.

The amphitheater was one of the new areas we hiked. It was built in 1939 for the Miss Azalea Pageant, and has been used for various events since.

Where to Eat

Having been to Palatka several times, we’ve been able to eat at some of Emma’s favorite places. They’ve become some of our favorites too. 

The Magnolia Cafe UPDATE: They are currently closed in the process of moving to a new location

Inside of Magnolia Cafe in Palatka, Florida

One of Emma’s more recent finds. This is where we had brunch before heading to Ravine Gardens State Park. 

Only open for breakfast and lunch, but we love the southern farm feel, and home cooking. Totally worth checking out. 

Leo’s Sushi/Palatka Buffet

Leo’s is where my love of sushi began. Not only do they have a full sushi menu, but they also have an all-you-can-eat buffet. 

We always get our sushi and these yummy Golden Shoes!!  

Corky Bell’s

Outside seating at Corky Bells

Emma used to work at Corky Bell’s, and we finally went there to celebrate her birthday. 

They have both indoor, and outdoor seating, and great seafood.

Sumi Japanese Restaurant

Since Leo’s is closed on Sundays, we ate at Sumi after our visit to the ravines. Another one of Emma’s sushi places. A full menu of sushi rolls, and Japanese dishes, including Hibachi. Loved the Golden Hearts, and the Crispy Rice Cakes. 

Palatka is another great historic town with lots of murals, so if you have the extra time, take a stroll around town.

Ravine Gardens State Park

1600 Twigg Street 

Palatka FL 32177


8 a.m. until sundown, 365 days a year

$5 per vehicle, please use honor box. Correct change is required.

Notice from the website: Please remember that you are entering a hurricane disturbed area. Potential hazards include falling trees and limbs, blocked routes, eroded trails and unstable and uneven surfaces.

For more Florida outdoor fun near Palatka:

A Day in Alexander Springs

Snorkeling in Salt Springs

Share Our Happy!!

42 thoughts on “Ravine Gardens State Park

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    • December 13, 2019 at 3:21 pm

      Same here. Totally did not feel like we were in Florida.

  • December 12, 2019 at 7:33 pm

    It looks like a great trip! I need to get up there. It is pretty close to me!

    • December 13, 2019 at 3:27 pm

      Palatka really is a cute town, and making a comeback.

  • December 12, 2019 at 9:57 pm

    This looks like a great hike! I love exploring new places!

    • December 13, 2019 at 3:27 pm

      Us too!! Now that it’s cooler, I would consider doing the longer hike.

  • December 12, 2019 at 10:17 pm

    What a pretty park. I’m sure you are inspired to go back when all the azaleas are in bloom. I know I would be in heaven walking through that trails. Your food finds look amazing. My daughter would head straight for the sushi.

    • December 13, 2019 at 3:49 pm

      We definitely are planning to return for peak bloom.

  • December 13, 2019 at 1:00 am

    So much information here! Looks like a great time.

    • December 13, 2019 at 3:52 pm

      Thanks!! It was just what I needed that day.

  • December 13, 2019 at 9:57 am

    Beautiful park and the food looks delicious!

    • December 13, 2019 at 3:52 pm

      It’s so pretty and different for Florida.

  • December 13, 2019 at 9:46 pm

    I love in Florida and I’ve never heard of this place. It looks like a lovely place to visit. Thanks for sharing ❤️

    • December 14, 2019 at 12:36 pm

      There is so much more to Florida than theme parks!! Hoping to share more of this beautiful state.

  • December 14, 2019 at 7:46 am

    What a beautiful location! After a “strenuous” hike I would for sure need a stop at The Magnolia Cafe. That food looks so good!

    • December 14, 2019 at 12:47 pm

      That’s one of my daughter’s favorite places!!

  • December 14, 2019 at 7:21 pm

    I love dayhikes and would love to hike here during bloom season. Simply gorgeous and love those arches and stairs!

    • December 16, 2019 at 9:31 am

      I want to be there for the bloom too!!

  • December 15, 2019 at 8:39 am

    What a fun day with your girls. The good looks amazing and the photos are making me wish for warmer weather here. LOL!

    • December 16, 2019 at 9:35 am

      Happy we got there before the really hot weather started!

  • December 15, 2019 at 10:24 am

    We have not been to Ravine Gardens State Park yet. Thank you for the suggestion. We love hiking and this park looks like one we would love to visit soon.

    • December 16, 2019 at 9:36 am

      Yes, with all your hiking you would love Ravine Gardens. Especially since it’s so different for Florida!

  • December 16, 2019 at 12:30 am

    I’ve never heard of Ravine Gardens State Park. We will for sure check it out next time we are in FL. Looks like a great park.

    • December 16, 2019 at 9:38 am

      The girls would love it! And you are right close to St Augustine!!

  • December 16, 2019 at 11:32 am

    How very nice! Had no idea this was in Florida. The stone pillars threw me off. I’d totally hike here, good to know!

    • December 17, 2019 at 8:20 pm

      It’s so completely different than most of Florida. It makes it a special place!

  • December 17, 2019 at 3:05 pm

    What a great place for a photo shoot! The park is gorgeous and I love the hiking trails.

    • December 17, 2019 at 8:20 pm

      My daughter and her friends found some great places to take photos!!

  • Pingback: A Day in St Augustine - How We Find Happy

  • February 15, 2021 at 3:16 pm

    Ravine Gardens State Park looks awesome! Love all of your pictures, especially of the suspension bridge.

    • February 17, 2021 at 9:34 pm

      Thank you! It was tough to sift through all the pictures and choose which ones to share.

  • February 16, 2021 at 11:16 am

    Ravine Gardens State Park looks like such a cool place to hike. I am a sucker for a cool bridge, as they make for such amazing photos. Oh, and the mural! Love it!

    • February 17, 2021 at 9:34 pm

      I’m drawn to bridges too. These ones are pretty cool.

  • February 16, 2021 at 7:22 pm

    I would love the Azalea Trail. Not too long, but strenuous (which made it sound interesting). Thanks for the great info about Ravine Gardens State Park!

    • February 17, 2021 at 9:33 pm

      Funny that it said strenuous, when I’ve been on trails much tougher with signs stating “easy”

  • February 17, 2021 at 11:03 am

    Ravine Gardens State Park looks like the perfect place for a day trip with some awesome sushi afterward! Yum! I love those beautiful azaleas too!

    • February 17, 2021 at 9:32 pm

      Not like anything I ever expected to see in Florida.

  • February 17, 2021 at 11:15 pm

    I need to go hiking at Ravine Gardens State Park! Would love to check out the azaleas, suspension bridges and love all the rock stairs.

    • February 22, 2021 at 9:58 pm

      All the parks you’ve been hiking, I think you’d really like this one.

  • February 19, 2021 at 6:41 am

    The Azaleas look so pretty in the Ravine State Park. I like the look of the suspension bridge, it’s so different.

  • February 25, 2021 at 7:22 pm

    Oh, Florida! I had to read to the very end of the article to discover where Ravine Gardens was – I was about to google it!
    Looks gorgeous – I miss azaleas; they don’t grow in New Mexico, as they need acidic soil. They are so beautiful.

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