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Reported: Nov. 2011; latest update: Nov. 2013

Silver River... Paddling with Monkeys

Silver Springs State Park is a popular Florida destination well known for the glass-bottom boat rides and for the monkeys that inhabit the area around the park. The first-magnitude spring is the largest natural artesian spring in the world, producing 550 million gallons of water per day. These waters form the Silver River, an excellent and scenic Florida paddling destination. (Detailed map and photos below.)



View Larger Map
Distance: 6 miles (Silver Spring to SR40)
Location: Marion County (Ocala)
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Tidal: No
Launch points: Silver Springs State Park; Ray Wayside Park (Ocklawaha River at SR 40) (See map, left)
Kayak/Canoe Rentals: At the state park (link, above right)
Nearby points of interest: Silver River State Park, Silver Springs Nature Park, Ocala

Rentals are available or you can launch your own vessel at the park. You can also paddle upstream from the launch at Ray Wayside Park located just upstream from where it joins the Ocklawaha River) and then enjoy the float back. Due to the water output, the paddle upstream can be strenuous but the clear water and lush subtropical vegetation make this one of the most scenic in Florida. Fishing is prohibited, as is landing along the shores of the river.

Silver Springs was the oldest and one of Florida's most popular tourist attractions, including filming the 1930's Tarzan movies with Johnny Weissmuller and the 1950's Creature from the Black Lagoon. Today's Silver Springs State Park has a restaurant, camping, hiking and equestrian trails, off-road biking, paddling, playground, glass-bottomed boat tour, museum and interpretative exhibits. When paddling within the state park, remain in your watercraft and watch for the glass-bottomed boats. At Ray Wayside Park are parking, restrooms, picnicking, and boat ramp.

Wildlife include the usual alligators, otters, birds and fish, but don't be surprised by the monkeys! Monkeys were brought onto a river island as a tourist attraction thinking they would not swim, but today bands of monkeys range over 40 miles. Feeding is prohibited, the monkeys can be aggressive and paddlers should use caution.

Paddling at Silver River
(tap or hover over photo for larger view)
Silver Springs State Park Launch
Managed under a concession to Discovery Kayak Tours. Rent or launch your own vessel.
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Launch area at end of parking lot From launch area across parking lot to Silver Springs entrance A short carry from roadside to launch Launch at Silver Springs State park,
easy on-easy off
Spring Basin
This area can be reached by a short paddle from the launch area, or paddling up the Silver River
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Paddling upstream Paddling downstream Boarding for boat tour Glass bottomed boats Underwater view
Fort King Waterway
The waterway was formerly open for a jungle cruise only but reopened to paddling in 2013 (for the first time since the 1870's) when Silver River State Park and Silver Springs Nature Theme Park combined to become Silver Springs State Park. Remnants of tourist exhibits remain, most will eventually be removed to return the park to a more natural state.
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  This was the old dock for jungle cruise     Fort King replica
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Indian village replica     Exiting onto the river
Silver River
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Canal from state park launch to river Underwater This tour boat was looking at a sunken sailboat  
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    Launch at Ray Wayside Landing
The Monkeys
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Other Wildlife
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More information on Silver Springs and paddling on the Silver River (opens in a new window):

- Florida State Parks - Silver Springs State Park

See also: Paddling Ocklawaha River

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Paddling in Florida - Kayak, Canoe
Silver River

Outfitters/Rentals

Silver Springs State Park
Kayak & canoe rentals, tours

Discovery Kayak Rentals
 Rentals; tours

Central Florida Nature Adventures
Tours


Support and Advocacy

Friends of  Silver River State Park

Silver Springs Alliance


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