Description - Crystal River State Archaeological Site is perhaps the longest continually occupied place in Florida. The site exhibits prehistoric midden mounds comprised of cast-off shells, bones and pottery from early civilizations. Evidence of an early trade market include copper earrings. Features of the park include a large picnic area and an observation deck allowing a panoramic view of the prehistoric complex.
Copyright: - Florida Division of Recreation & Parks
Crystal River State Archaeological Site
- Crystal River State Archaeological Site is a National Historic landmark. This six-mound complex, built by the cultural group called pre-Columbian mound builders, is considered one of the longest continually occupied sites in Florida. For 1,600 years, beginning around 200 B.C., these 14 acres were an imposing prehistoric ceremonial center for Florida's Native Americans. These people traveled great distances to the complex to bury their dead with ceremony and to participate in trade activities. It is estimated that 7,500 Indians might have visited the complex annually.
Recreation - During a visit to the site, visitors can tour the visitor center / museum and walk the paved trail that meanders through the site. The visitor center / museum houses the park office as well as a collection of artifacts collected at the site. Artifacts such as arrowheads, pottery, jewelry, stone and bone tools are on exhibition. Interpretive exhibits also relate the chronology of archaeological excavations done at the site beginning in 1903. An 8-minute interpretive video is well worth watching for a better understanding of the site's past.
Restrooms and a small gift shop are located near the visitor center / museum. (note: the gift shop, while offering a variety of novelty and educational items, does not deal in Native American artifacts of any kind.)
A walk down the one-half mile paved loop trail at the site will take visitors past each of the 6 mounds. These mounds include Temple, Burial and Midden Area Mounds. A beautiful view of the Crystal River is had from the observation deck located on one of the Temple Mounds. Two large limestone boulders seen along the trail may have served as ceremonial markers for these early people.
Climate - Winters in west central Florida are normally mild with occasional temperatures dipping into the 30's and 40's Fahrenheit. However, averages range between 52 and 64 degrees Fahrenheit (11 - 18 Celsius). Summers are normally hot and muggy with temperatures and humidity usually exceeding 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Averages range between 81 and 83 degrees (27 - 29 Celsius). Precipitation for the central west area ranges between 52 and 56 inches per year.
Crystal River State Archaeological Site is located in northwest Florida, off S.R. 24 on Museum Drive and along the coast north of Tampa.