Devil’s Millhopper in Gainesville Florida

So what exactly is a Devil’s Millhopper? It’s Florida’s only Geological State Park. The park is in Gainesville and was established in 1974, 64 acres of Florida’s natural beauty with a massive 120-foot deep 500-foot wide limestone sinkhole.

Sinkholes occur all over the world.  One of the ways a sinkhole can be created is when a layer of bedrock is water-soluble, like limestone or dolomite, due to erosion, the ground begins to weaken over time causing caves or fissures.  The surface above the cavern(s) collapses, the outcome is a sinkhole in varying sizes. No doubt, they can be very scary, especially if one occurs in your neighborhood or on roadway. Unfortunately, sinkholes are something Floridians have come all to familiar with.

In Devil’s Millhopper the water flows down into the bottom through small streams and then it slowly makes its way into the Florida aquifer through the porous limestone.  The area is surrounded by small cascading waterfalls, lush plant life and impressive needle palms, swamp chestnut oaks, pine trees, rock outcroppings and more.  It’s like stepping into a miniature rainforest.

A 232-step stairway will lead you down to the observation deck so you are up close and personal to view this colossal wonder. As you walk down the many stairs you will see small plaques identifying the trees and plants. You will also see small animal life, such as lizards and frogs.  The temperature is actually very cool when you reach the sinkhole.

After exploring the sinkhole, you can walk the half-mile trail around the rim or roam the many wooded acres and you just might catch a glimpse of a white-tailed deer, bobcat,  or one of the many bird varieties.

So how did Devil’s Millhopper get its name?  The name originated from the funnel-like shape which is similar in appearance to a hopper used to funnel grain on to a millstone used in a gristmill.  Folklore has it, with the finding of bones at the bottom, that the sinkhole fed animals or bodies to the devil.

The visitor center has informative displays and graphics explaining the making of sinkholes like Devil’s Millhopper and the area’s history. Through the years, researchers and scientist have found considerable quantities of fossil shark teeth and remains of extinct land animals in the sinkhole.

There are plenty of picnic tables available to have lunch or a snack. No concession stands here just a couple of drink machines.  Dogs are allowed on a leash. This is a great natural gem to visit when you’re in the Gainesville, Florida area.

TIP: Devil’s Millhopper Park is open Wednesday through Sunday 9-5 pm. A small entrance fee is required.

Location: 4732 Millhopper Rd, Gainesville, FL 32653

 

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70 comments

  1. I enjoy nature and find the visits to natural parks to be so enriching and interesting. This looks like a great place to take the kids for a visit and to learn about geology.

  2. I have never seen a sinkhole before. So looks like this one is properly covered and you can’t accidentally fall into it. It looks like a hidden gem since I had not heard of it when I was in Florida in 2015.

  3. Wow, that looks pretty interesting! I’ve actually never seen a sinkhole before, they’re not common at all where I’m from, I didn’t know there were quite a few in Florida!
    The park and the area looks lovely by the way

  4. What a beautiful area! I’ve never seen a sinkhole (don’t live in an area where that’s ever a possibility), but they look eerie and rather mystical! How fun that you can go see a bit of nature’s wonders and then also walk around on the trails! Next time we’re in Florida, we might have to stop by. Thanks for sharing!

  5. I have always wanted to see a sinkhole in real life! Id love to see ones without water and just peek into the void. The legend is pretty cool, about the devil and that. And finding shark teeth in the sinkhole? Woah! That’s interesting! Love the nature setting and the fact there is a walking trail too!

  6. Devil’s Millhopper Park looks fascinating! I’m surprised there are no gators down there! I would be paranoid the whole time about gators! You took some great photos, I’d love to get some pictures around there!

  7. This is a great post, which is of a lot of interest to me. I have visited a number of these kind of parks in Florida and I always love then. Unfortunately this one was not on my radar when I was last in Florida, but I have pinned it for the next time I visit.

  8. This is the first story I have read about a sinkhole … how fascinating! I love the amount of wildlife you saw and what lovely walking trails there are around here. It’s interesting how Devil’s Millhopper got it’s name as well. Thank you for sharing all this wonderful information. #feetdotravel

  9. Thanks for sharing, I didn’t know about this place and it sounds interesting. I will be in Florida in March and hope to get a chance to visit!

  10. Looks interesting and love the nature trail and the boardwalks. Haven’t made it to Florida yet but somewhere to consider when I do get around to it! Thanks for sharing

  11. Now this looks like a fun place to spend an afternoon exploring. I love wandering around parks and getting lost in time. I remember when I visited Florida that sinkholes were a problem but its cool to see one.

  12. I love geology! I especially like any place where there is plenty of woods to explore. This park looks like it has both! Pinning this!

  13. The parc look like a great family outing for the Sunday. I have been to other parcs in Mexico for example but now that I live in Europe we don´t have such entertaining green aeras. Thank you for the share 🙂

  14. This park looks like it’d be so much fun to explore! Not to mention a fantastic workout with all the stairs! I saw a sinkhole (“cenote”) in Mexico once, and we were actually able to swim in it! It was a lot of fun. Would be a lot of fun to check out this park sometime, thanks for sharing about it!

  15. Not your typical tourist attraction but seems a very interesting day out all the same! I find sinkholes oddly fascinating, how they pop up seemingly out of nowhere is crazy.

  16. Looks like an interesting place to visit. Recently reading about sinkholes in Mexico. This one looks nice and shady too, will pin it for future reference to Florida. Thanks for sharing Lisa.

  17. The place is really awesome. I didn’t know much about sinkholes, hence this post has been an educational one for me. I enjoyed the narrative and the stunning photos that capture so beautifully this spectacular natural phenomenon.

  18. I will have to check this out when I get to Florida again. Sinkholes do sound scary, especially when you hear about them swallowing someone’s entire house.

  19. I travel to that part of the state often so I will definitely add this to my must do list. I have never witnessed a real sinkhole and this looks very interesting. I didn’t even know it existed!

    1. Hi Melody…It’s neat to see it up close and worth a visit if your passing through. Great Florida nature!

  20. I love the local folklore that comes with place-names like Devil’s Millhopper – I can imagine parents telling their kids that they’d better be good, or else…into the Devil’s Millhopper! 😉 I’m not scared though – I’d love to see it!

    1. Hi Rob…I love it too and Florida’s history. It’s a cool park, (I survived!) hope you can visit one day.

  21. I never realized how woodsy parts of Florida are and what a pretty place this one is! I’ve never seen a sink hole either, now I’m curious and want to see one.

    1. Hi Nancy…I think that surprises a lot of people about parts of Florida. Worth a visit if your traveling through.

  22. This sounds like a really cool place to visit, next time we’re in Florida we will definitely check it out!

    1. It is definitely worth a visit if your traveling through or around the Gainesville, Florida area. Hope you can visit.

  23. Sink holes are starting to occur more frequently. It is so cool to see one in a park that didn’t cause massive infrastructure destruction.

  24. This looks like an interesting place to explore. I lived in Florida for many years and the sinkhole stories were like urban legends back then – just like alligators in everyone’s swimming pools.

    1. Unfortunately, sinkholes are appearing more frequently in Florida. This is a great little (educational) park.

  25. I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen a sinkhole in person before. While they look like a rather ordinary lake, the prospect of suddenly coming across one does seem a little worrisome. The nature park looks lovely too.

    1. Unfortunately, living in Florida for many years I’ve seen my share of them! But this is a great little park to visit

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