From Monticello we turned south and headed or a short drive to Crystal River. There we hoped to kayak with the manatees but upon arrival we discovered that the water was too warm. We were told that the chances of seeing the manatees were about fifty-fifty, so instead we opted to visit the Crystal River State Archeological Site.
Jen and Eric drove up from St Petersburg and we first drove around checking out possible launch sites for future paddles. The private boat launch raised their launch price to seven dollars per kayak. It’s a handy placer near to the Three Sisters Springs but there were several other launch ramps so that’s where we are going to launch from now on.
Deciding to discover something new we headed for the Crystal River State Archeological Site. The site has a visitor center, staffed by an extremely knowledgeable volunteer. He told us of the history of the Temple and Burial mounds and directed us to displays of artifacts dug from several of the sites.
After studying the finds, after all you never know when you may come across an artifact while paddling or hiking, we headed out to the First Temple and Burial mound. On the way we passed a small stele which is a large rock set in place and inscribed with runes/drawings. However the marks are covered in lichen and so were not visible.
Climbing the fifty stairs to the top of the Temple we looked across the Crystal River. There the volunteer told us other mounds had been located, all on private land. If I remember right he said there were a total of twenty seven mounds in this multisite complex.
It reminded us of the Iowa’s Effigy Mounds along the Mississippi River and the large mound complex along the Natchez Trail. Further along we stopped at Stele 1, where a face had been engraved.
We really enjoyed the other State Site and would definitely recommend it if you are in the area. The next day we headed south and are now parked, for the next two months, in St Petersburg, Florida.