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Kayaking at Silver Springs State Park

Silver Springs State Park, Ocala, Florida, Kayaking Adventure

We have lived in Florida for just a couple of years, but we have been to this park several times. We take our visitors to Silver Springs State Park because it is beautiful, described as "old Florida." We also go because we are assured to see something different every time. It is full of wildlife and history.

Dating back to the 1500's Native Americans resided around Silver Springs. One of their dugout canoes rests on the bed of the Silver River. The canoe can be viewed through the bottom of the world famous Glass Bottom Boats, one of Florida's first tourist attractions.

Silver Springs State Park, Ocala, Florida, Kayaking Adventure


Silver Springs in the Movies?

Yes, there is something for television and movie buffs in the park too.

In the 1930's six of the original Tarzan movies, starring Johnny Weismuller were filmed on location at Silver Springs.

In the late 50's and 60's, the clear water made this the perfect location to film more than 100 episodes of Sea Hunt, starring Lloyd Bridges.

Creature From the Black Lagoon was filmed here, and so were scenes from movies like Rebel Without a Cause and James Bonds Thunderball.

There are also statues still resting on the bed of the river placed there for an episode of I Spy!

Silver Springs State Park, Ocala, Florida, Kayaking Adventure

Silver Springs Theme Park?

From its earliest days, the area now composing Silver Springs State Park was a commercial attraction. According to the company that formerly operated The Silver Springs Nature and Theme Park, 800,000 people visited the attraction each year in the 1950's.

That was before Disney.

Even before that, around 1938, a tour boat operator decided to release monkeys to enhance his Jungle Cruise ride. Even though the Jungle Cruise ride is gone, the monkeys remain. On one of our kayak tours, we saw them in the trees.

Silver Springs State Park, Ocala, Florida, Kayaking Adventure
Silver Springs State Park, Ocala, Florida, Kayaking Adventure
Silver Springs State Park, Ocala, Florida, Kayaking Adventure
Silver Springs State Park, Ocala, Florida, Kayaking Adventure
Silver Springs State Park, Ocala, Florida, Kayaking Adventure
Silver Springs State Park, Ocala, Florida, Kayaking Adventure

The Best Way to Tour- By Kayak

We always take tours with Discovery Kayak tours because they're run by people who are native to the area. They are familiar with the birds and the landscape, and can point out the area where alligators and other interesting species have been spotted.

On one of our trips, a manatee passed directly under our kayaks!   That was an awe inspiring moment! On our last trip, we thought we heard tree limbs snapping.  Instead, it was a huge alligator named Sampson lunching on a snapping turtle. Very kind staff people were located nearby to warn anyone with a weak stomach to turn their heads. 


Silver Springs State Park, Ocala, Florida, Kayaking Adventure

Silver Springs State Park, Ocala, Florida, Kayaking Adventure

There are so many amazing attractions to visit in central Florida, but I definitely recommend this one. It was designated as a National Natural Landmark in 1971. Because we live so close, we have not taken advantage of their RV sights or cabins, but the word of mouth is that they are first rate.

Silver Springs State Park is located in Ocala, Florida. It is home to one of the largest Artesian springs in the world. Silver Springs is often called the gateway to The Ocala National Forrest, the second largest and most southern National Forrest east of the Mississippi.

If kayaking is not your thing, there are paved trails, overlooks, ornamental gardens, and the famed glass bottom boat rides.  There is also a restaurant available.  

For more information on available activities, and the camping sites, start on the Florida State Parks home page, which can help you find camping and activity information for Silver Springs, and every other Florida State Park.   

If you want to make a visit to Silver Springs State Park part of a bigger vacation, with lots of other interesting activities, there are a lot of options in Florida.  However, if you prefer to stay away from the theme parks and busy cities, consider Sarasota a fabulous base with lots of choices, including the countries #1 beach.  It is a great city for families! 
On the other hand, if you opt to camp in Silver Springs State Park, but need to get out of the park for a day, we still like Sarasota for something unique, such as the The Ringling Estate!
Be sure to check out our full gallery, with 44 photos, including more kayaking scenes, birds, snakes, and alligators.  Click them open to full size to get the best view!
Silver Springs Kayak Tour Gallery

Silver Springs State Park, Ocala, Florida, Kayaking Adventure



Pin this article for later! Silver Springs State Park, a Kayaking Adventure.

For more information kayaking with Discovery Kayak Tours, see their website  discoverykayak.com, or their Facebook page  facebook/discoverykayaktours/.  
Contributed by Barb Lindsoe.

20 thoughts on “Kayaking at Silver Springs State Park

  1. I hope Silver Springs Park hasn’t been badly affected by the recent hurricane. The crystal clear water and rich biodiversity in this park makes it worth seeing.

    1. Me too! I love natural places, but especially those with a rich biodiversity or ecosystem. I will be doing a story soon on the Cache River Natural area, in southern Illinois, which has 4 separate ecosystems in a few hundred square miles. It is crazy to me, but shows what a wonder our planet really is!

  2. Without the snakes and alligators, it looks like a place to enjoy a peaceful kayak experience. I’m not sure whether I am comfortable with the animals while in a low boat 🙂 It was interesting to know that so many movies were shot here !

    1. I don’t watch a ton of movies, but i LOVE that kind of trivia. Whenever I travel I am making sure to get that info to share. PS The snakes bother me more than the alligators!

  3. This part of Florida really intrigues me. When we were there last we really only had time for Miami but knew we would want to come back to see the parks and the waterways. Kayaking alongside the gators doesn’t really appeal to me but that’s because I’m used to the terror of crocs in Oz 🙂

  4. now that looks pretty neat, being under the willows with all that wildlife. what is it about clear water- no matter where it is- that makes it so hard to resist getting in? a kayak is really easy to handle and one could easily spend a day at this place just enjoying the quiet. great, just what I needed, another destination not to be missed 🙂

    1. You know I never had any desire whatsoever to visit Florida, until Barb started sharing her stories with us. Now I want to!

  5. I would love to visit the state parks in Florida! Silver Springs looks beautiful. I’ll admit though, the alligators are extremely unsettling! The worst I’ve seen while kayaking in Wisconsin are turtles 😉 haha

    1. Seems they are seen fairly commonly on the tour! I am told that they get a bad rap, due to the aggression of crocodiles, but that they are rather docile… hmmmm..

  6. This sounds so awesome! I’ve done kayaking twice before and enjoyed it so I’m sure this is something I’d like too. I don’t mind the snakes, manatees, and turtles, but not sure I’d brave the alligators. 🙂

    1. When I first saw the pics with alligators, I was like “really??” But, Barb says they never approach the kayaks..

    1. I declined a job right next door a few years ago, and Barb has me thinking it might have been a mistake! I hope you enjoy!

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