Friday, January 24, 2014

Silver Springs State Park

I had the opportunity this week to meet some friends at the Silver River State Park near Ocala for a few days.  

Actually, Silver River State Park, combined with Silver Springs Nature Theme Park late in 2013, and is now known as Silver Springs State Park.

The Silver River is a short spring-fed river located east of Ocala, FL. Fed by Silver Springs, it connects the springs to the Ocklawaha River, passing through a pristine woodland environment.

The River Side of the Park...

The campground is on the river side and offers spacious sites with water and electric and is well maintained. 
I had 4 bars here with Verizon.  There is also a primitive group camping area, picnic area and a playground.  The River side of the park is home to a pioneer cracker village and the Silver River Museum and Environmental Education Center. There are approximately 15 miles of trails and the ones I hiked were well maintained and marked.  Be warned -- you need to book early, this is a popular state park for snowbirds!
Entrance to trails

Trails are beautiful and well marked

Swamp trail bridge

Cypress knees

River view from the end of Swamp Trail

Palm reflection in the water

Taken from about 6' above the water, this guy was swimming about 4' below the surface

The Spring side of the park was very quiet the day we visited

Entrance to what used to be Silver Springs Nature Theme Park

The main attraction of Silver Springs is the glass bottom boat ride that has been in operation is the late 1800’s.  The boats run hourly from 10am - 4pm. 

On the Spring side you can view the spring head from a covered viewing deck, walk along the river on the paved trails and see the ornamental gardens. There is a canoe and kayak launch and you can rent a canoe or kayak or bring your own. 
Original settlers - Timucuan Indians

Horseshoe Palm - it's supposed to be lucky to take your picture here

Kayakers paddling into the headwaters
A little bit of Hollywood Trivia - Six Tarzan movies with Johnny Weissmuller were filmed here. The old 1950s The Creature from the Black Lagoon was also shot here at Silver Springs Florida.  My favorite... Sea Hunt with Lloyd Bridges filmed more than 100 episodes here.  In the 60’s the TV show “I Spy” filmed here as well and is responsible for the underwater statues you can still see here.  Other movies filmed at Silver Springs include 
The Yearling --- Gregory Peck and Jane Wyman
Distant Drums --- Gary Cooper
Underwater --- Jane Russell and Richard Egan
Blindfold --- Rock Hudson and Claudia Cardinale
Legend --- Tom Cruise
Never Say Never Again --- Sean Connery
Smokey and the Bandit 3 --- Jackie Gleason
The park also has a population of Rhesus monkeys... Brought in by one of the concessionaires in the 1930’s, we didn't see any during our visit, the best way to see them is by kayak.
Photo "borrowed" from Wikipedia

This is my favorite Florida park by far and I will definitely go back.

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