Friday, January 30, 2015

Paddling Silver Springs

Post by Henry

The last time I was at Silver Springs was somewhere around 1970 with my parents when it was a privately owned Florida tourist attraction. 

Silver Springs

The glass bottom boats were the main feature but there were exotic animals and an amusement park, too.  Mostly I only have a vague memory of the boats. Silver Springs was one of Florida’s first tourist attractions and the springs are one of the largest artesian spring formations in the world, producing nearly 550 million gallons of crystal clear water daily.

Glass Bottom Boats

The glass bottom boats actually date as far back as the 1870's, which is a few years before I was born.  Just recently Florida acquired the attraction and made it part of the Silver Springs State Park.

We decided we should paddle this so we headed a little over an hour north of our Sumter Oaks Campsite to the park just east of Ocala. It cost $8 to get in the park and then $4 launch fee for each kayak. They also rent canoes for the day.

The first thing you do is paddle a narrow channel towards the main spring where the glass bottom boats still operate.

Launching Area and Narrow Channel

When you arrive at the main spring it’s like WOW! The spring is deep and crystal clear! It’s amazing to look over the side of the kayak and see to the bottom 30+ feet down.

Silver Springs

We spent the next 3 hours paddling on the clear water going down stream with the current then returning on a narrow canal called the Fort King Waterway. It was a beautiful day with mostly blue skies and temperatures in the upper 70’s. We saw ospreys, wood storks, blue herons, egrets, ibis, cormorants and many gators and turtles. 

Turtles Resting on Log
Little Blue Heron

We had seen all of these many times before but had never paddled on such crystal clear beautiful water as the Silver River

Henry Paddling Silver Springs

After our paddling trip we checked out some of the rest of the park. The campground was one of the best we’ve seen in a Florida State Park and there didn’t appear you could pick out a bad campsite as they were all spacious with lots of privacy. We drove past the cabins too and they have an ‘Old Florida’ look with big screened in porches and lots of privacy as well. 

Cabin in Silver Springs State Park

We may return here for a few days of camping and we would definitely recommend paddling Silver Springs.

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