The Hillsborough River is a 56-mile-long river in western Florida that flows from the Green Swamp in eastern Polk County through Hillsborough County and into Tampa Bay. The river has a long and fascinating history that has been shaped by the people and events that have occurred along its banks.
The indigenous people of the area, the Tocobaga and Calusa tribes, were the first to settle along the Hillsborough River. They lived off the river's abundant fish and wildlife and used it as a transportation route. In the 16th century, Spanish explorers led by Panfilo de Narvaez and Hernando de Soto arrived in the area, bringing with them diseases that devastated the native populations.
During the 19th century, the Hillsborough River played an important role in the development of the Tampa Bay area. Steamboats were used to transport goods and people up and down the river, and the first bridge across the river was built in 1851. The river also provided water for early settlers' crops and livestock.
In the 20th century, the Hillsborough River faced many challenges. The growth of the Tampa Bay area led to increased pollution from industry and development, and the river's natural flow was disrupted by dams and dredging. However, in recent years, efforts have been made to restore the river's health and protect its ecosystem. The Hillsborough River State Park was established in 1938, and in 1972, the river was designated an Outstanding Florida Water, which provided legal protection for the river and its watershed.
Today, the Hillsborough River is a popular destination for outdoor recreation, including fishing, kayaking, and hiking. The river is also home to a variety of wildlife, including manatees, alligators, and many species of fish and birds. Its history and natural beauty continue to be an important part of the Tampa Bay area's cultural and environmental heritage.
Top Tourist Attractions
The Hillsborough River is home to many popular tourist attractions that draw visitors from all over the world. Here are some of the top attractions along the river:
- Riverwalk: The Tampa Riverwalk is a 2.6-mile-long pedestrian trail that runs along the Hillsborough River in downtown Tampa. It's a great place to walk, bike, or jog and offers stunning views of the river and the city.
- Hillsborough River State Park: This state park is located in Thonotosassa, just east of Tampa. It features hiking trails, camping sites, picnic areas, and a variety of outdoor recreational activities.
- Tampa Bay History Center: This museum is located on the Riverwalk and showcases the history and culture of the Tampa Bay area, including exhibits on the Hillsborough River.
- Lowry Park Zoo: This popular zoo is located near the Hillsborough River and features more than 1,000 animals, including many endangered species.
- The Florida Aquarium: This aquarium is located on the Tampa Riverwalk and offers visitors the chance to see a variety of marine life, including sharks, dolphins, and sea turtles.
- Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino: This casino is located near the Hillsborough River and features a variety of gaming options, as well as dining and entertainment venues.
- Busch Gardens Tampa Bay: This theme park is located near the Hillsborough River and features a variety of rides, shows, and attractions, including a roller coaster that goes over the river.
- Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park: This park is located on the Riverwalk and offers stunning views of the river and the city, as well as a variety of outdoor recreational activities and events.
Overall, the Hillsborough River offers visitors a variety of exciting and educational attractions, making it a must-see destination for anyone visiting the Tampa Bay area.
The climate along the Hillsborough River in Florida is considered subtropical, with hot and humid summers and mild winters. The river's location in central Florida means that it is influenced by both the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, as well as by the prevailing winds that blow across the region.
During the summer months, which run from May to September, temperatures along the river can reach highs in the low to mid-90s Fahrenheit (32-35°C) with high levels of humidity. Thunderstorms and rain showers are common during this time of year, often occurring in the late afternoon or evening.
The winter months, which run from November to February, are much milder, with average temperatures ranging from the high 50s to the low 70s Fahrenheit (15-22°C). Winter is considered the dry season in Florida, with less rainfall and lower levels of humidity than in the summer months.
Overall, the Hillsborough River area experiences a warm and humid climate throughout the year, with occasional cold fronts bringing cooler temperatures in the winter months. Visitors to the area should be prepared for warm weather and the possibility of rain during the summer months, and milder weather in the winter.
The Hillsborough River is a 56-mile-long river in west-central Florida that flows from the Green Swamp in eastern Polk County through Hillsborough County and into Tampa Bay. The river has a total drainage area of about 865 square miles (2,240 square kilometers).
The Hillsborough River begins as a small stream in the Green Swamp, and as it flows downstream, it is fed by several tributaries, including the Withlacoochee River, the Little Withlacoochee River, and the Alafia River. The river eventually empties into Tampa Bay, which is an arm of the Gulf of Mexico.
The Hillsborough River is the primary source of drinking water for the Tampa Bay area, and it provides a vital source of freshwater for the region's ecosystems. The river and its surrounding watershed are home to a variety of plants and animals, including cypress trees, alligators, otters, and numerous species of fish and birds.
The river's geography is characterized by its gentle, meandering flow through a variety of landscapes, including swamps, forests, and urban areas. The river's banks are lined with parks, recreational areas, and residential neighborhoods, making it a popular destination for outdoor activities such as fishing, kayaking, and hiking. Overall, the Hillsborough River's unique geography and diverse ecosystems make it an important part of the Tampa Bay area's natural heritage and a vital resource for the region's residents and wildlife.