We've 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 go because we 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.
There's 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, 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.
From its earliest days, the area now composing Silver Springs State Park was a commercial attraction. According to the company that used to operate The Silver Springs Nature and Theme Park, 800,000 people visited the attraction each year in the 1950's. That was before Disney.
In 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.
We always take tours with Discovery Kayak tours because they're run by people who are native to the area. They're familiar with the birds, 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. 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.
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 I have heard 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 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, see the Florida State Parks page for Silver Springs, here: https://www.floridastateparks.org/park/Silver-Springs.
If you are camping in Silver Springs State Park, and want a day trip for something unique and different, head on over to Sarasota and check out 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!