|Dates:||June 3 – 6, 2023|
|What we learned?||Need a better checklist (we forgot the cooler for the kayak and had to buy one)|
|Would we go back?||yes|
Wayne’s Birthday trip was to Silver Springs State Park in Ocala, FL. He did not mention this is where he wanted to go but we had never been there before and wanted to visit and there were campsites open. Win-Win-Win. Silver Spring is close to Salt Springs where we stayed a few months ago. We actually got off I-95 at the same exit we did for Tomoka State Park.
I drove the whole trip as another little gift for the birthday boy. The campground was down the street and around the corner from the park. The campsites were spacious and clean. There is a kayak launch at the campsite but you would have to drag your kayak 1.3 miles down a trail, which was not going to happen. Silver Springs is a magnitude 1 spring that pumps out over 500 million gallons of water every day and the current is fairly strong so paddling back up the river would be a chore which again wasn’t going to happen. We were here to relax. So we drove to the Kayak launch at the main park each day. We decided to paddle the 5.3 miles downriver to the boat ramp and take the shuttle back to the main park. It was $15 per kayak for this service since we had our own kayaks and well worth it.
The water was crystal clear and there was a lot of wildlife to see. Right off the ramp not 100 yards we encountered a river otter. Then I lost count of the turtles and alligators we saw. This trip is also the first time we had seen wood ducks. The males are just gorgeous. See the listing of wildlife and pictures below. The animals are totally not afraid of people and were not spooked when approached. There is no swimming or fishing on the river which also helps to allow the wildlife to just be.
Since the glass bottom boat was invented here, Wayne and I decided to go on the tour on the last day. Glass bottom boats have been running on the river since the 1870’s. It was cool to see the river from a different perspective. We went over the head spring, saw movie props from the movie The Creature from the Black Lagoon, and the dock from the Sea Hunt TV show, and saw an old dugout canoe the Indians used. An Alligator swam right up to the boat and our captain spotted a black racer on the sea wall. There are 120 springs along the river.
Silver Springs has been inhabited by people for 12,000 years. The Timucuan Indians thrived in the area with abundant wildlife. By the mid-1700s they were wiped out by disease, warfare, and enslavement. This is not the last of the Indians in the area. In October of 1834, the Seminole Indians met at the springs for a council meeting as the new United States was demanding their removal to Oklahoma. Osceola swayed the Council of Chiefs to fight, which was the beginning of the Great Seminole War of 1835-42. The US has not signed a treaty with the Seminoles even to this day.
Wildlife sightings: 3 Spoonbills, 5 Swallowtail Kites, Osprey, Buzzards, Deer, 10 Manatee, Wild Hog, Alligators of all sizes, Anhinga, Cormorants, Ibis, Pileated Woodpecker, Wood Duck (Male, Female, and babies), Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, Coots, Yellow-crowned Night-heron, Little Blue Heron juvenile, Blue Heron, Limpkin, Rhesus Macaque monkey, River otter, Florida Cooter, Red-Bellied Turtle, River Cooter, Red Shouldered Hawk, Swallowtail butterflies
NOTE: All photos and videos are the property of Wayne and Margaret Shoemake. If you want to use them, please click on the contact us page and email us.