Another delightful day in paradise this past Saturday for our last trip on the Ichetucknee (Itch-a-TUCK-nee) before they open it up to tubing for the summer. We’ll go back after Labor Day.
For those of you who are not familiar with the Ichetucknee, from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, then entire river within the state park is open to tubing and the state park runs a shuttle bus to haul people from bottom to top. We do not recommend boating during this time because of the bank-to-bank inner tubes floating slowly downstream. And, of course, with a thousand or more kids on the river all screaming, splashing and having fun you will see virtually no wildlife. Also, the last take-out within the state park is closed to personal vehicles, so you have to rely on the park concessionaire to transport you and your kayak back to your cars at the north end. And there are very few concessionaires I trust to transport my kayak — too many scratches and gouges by inattentive handling. But if you have an old beat-up kayak it would probably be ok.
After Labor Day weekend tubing is banned from the upper half of the river to allow the vegetation to regenerate and the shuttle only runs on weekends. So during the week, while you can still tube the lower half of the river, you will have to walk between the last take out and the mid-point or bring two cars to provide your own shuttle. As a result, during the week we rarely see more than a few tubers, mostly adults on a lazy float, and lots of wildlife.