Custom map of the Natural Coast, Florida
Nicknamed “The Original Florida,” Nature Coast is a place where a world of historic and natural wonders are plentiful, from numerous parks, preserves, beautiful, crystal-clear springs, rivers and estuaries, spectacular, freshwater lakes, wildlife refuges, and over 25 nature-based recreational sites. Once regarded as "the lonesome leg" of Florida, this 4,000 km2 region, stretching along the Big Bend area, from Apalachee Bay to Anclote Key, is the ideal definition of off-the-beaten path. Nature Coast encompasses eight counties, including Citrus, Dixie, Hernando, Jefferson, Pasco, Levy, Taylor, and Wakulla. The name "Nature Coast" emerged in 1991, developed as part of a marketing campaign with the aim of attracting vacationers to Florida's Nature Coast region. Over time, the name was adopted by locals to describe the area formally known as the "Big Bend" of Florida.
The earliest inhabitants to live in the Native Coast region is believed to be Native Americans, and anthropologists suggest that their occupation, in what is now Citrus County, dates back to 12,000 years ago. The Indian burial mounds at Crystal River are remnants of their society. In this Florida paradise, the human population pales in comparison to the multitude of wildlife and birds that has taken residence in this region. Included in the list of fauna is 19 endangered species, along with other wildlife, including deer, wild pigs, roseate spoonbills, alligators, raccoons, opossums, snakes, great blue herons, egrets, and turtles. The flora is equally diverse, with slash pine and sand pine trees, scrub hickory, switchgrass, pigeon plum, and shady oaks.
Each county in the Nature Coast offers something unique that sets them apart, but ultimately makes them an integral part of what makes the region a natural splendor. Wakulla County boasts prime attractions like St. Mark’s Lighthouse, the Gulf Specimen Marine Lab, and the San Marcos de Apalache State Historic Site; Jefferson County features parks along the Aucilla and Wacissa rivers and Historic Monticello; Taylor County attractions include Forest Capital State Park, Taylor Hagens Cove Park, and the Cracker Homestead; and Dixie County is known for Suwannee Fishing Village and bird watching, while Levy County is packed with natural and historic sites, with Cedar Key as its hub. Snorkeling, diving, camping, swimming, and wildlife watching are offered by Citrus County. Historic sites, museums and natural habitats can be enjoyed in Hernando County, while hiking and biking trails, park exploration, and preserves are key features in Pasco County.
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