Silver Springs State Park is a beautiful place to kayak over crystal clear spring waters while viewing wild monkeys frolicking among the trees that line the river banks. It truly is a unique Florida experience. I love photographing these creatures from my kayak. I could watch them for hours.
We first visited Silver Springs when it was still privately owned and included a lot of captive animals.
The land has since become a state park and now all the captive animals are gone, but it still has the glass-bottomed boat tours, a restaurant and ice-cream shop, a little nature/history center and now a lovely new boardwalk that was built in 2016.
So there are many appealing things to do here, but we mainly come to Silver Springs to canoe and kayak. The water is pristine, the abundant wildlife - fish, turtles, alligators, and a variety of birds - is always fun to watch. But the highlight for us is truly the monkeys. On our most recent visit, we were lucky that they were quite near the kayak launch so we didn't have to go nearly as far down the river as we had previously had to paddle to see them. There was quite a large group of them so we got to see mothers with very young ones, larger males, monkeys swinging through the vines, eating, watching us, drinking from the river, scampering playfully through the brush.
What a treat to see!
Of course, since I take photos from my kayak, I can't always get into the best position for a nice picture. I was sorry to miss the head of this one as he drank from the river.
We also enjoy paddling up at the main headspring which is near the launch. The water is deceptively deep, around 80 feet, clear and blue, and one of the highlights there is to spot the statues at the bottom that were used in the old 1930s Tarzan films. Once the springs became a national landmark, they could not remove anything from the springs so those statues remain in the depths.
We can see all kinds of fish in the water there, as well as turtles.
And of course where there are fish, there are anhingas diving to catch a fresh lunch from among the vegetation swaying in the water.
We've also seen tiny turtles basking on the logs as well as water snakes slithering near the head spring.
There was an abundance of turtles, which I think indicates a healthy river, so that was good to see.
And of course where there's water in Florida, there are alligators. On our last visit, my son and I kayaked in the late afternoon and we got to see a big gator open his mouth so wide! Of course, I wasn't quick enough with my camera. Would you believe that happened two more times on that same paddle? It became a joke, and I captured exactly none of those impressive yawns. I think they were teasing me.
That's looks like a pretty smug post-yawn grin, doesn't it?
I did get one lucky capture of the fish that leap out of the water all along the river. It makes you jump when you suddenly hear a big splash right behind your kayak! I keep waiting for the day one will land in one of our kayaks. Oh, how I would laugh!! I laugh just thinking about it actually.
When we weren't on the water, we were hiking on the trails from the campground area, which was also a pleasant experience. Here, my 13yo is telling my 5yo all about snakes and she's hanging on his every word. Love moments like these!
Silver Springs State Park makes for a great destination for kayaking, canoeing, or enjoying a glass-bottomed boat tour. It's fantastic for photographing a variety of wildlife. Even though it's hard for me to get a great capture from a drifting kayak, I still enjoy trying. We will continue to come back to Silver Springs!