Exploring Florida's Natural Springs & Rivers
Updated: Jun 11, 2019
In the last few years, I've posted about my family's camping trips to Florida on social media, and I get a lot of questions from followers about our trips. Since birth, I grew up camping with my family all over the South. We've camped in tents, RV's, campers, and now currently we have a custom trailer. We camp usually three times a year, but Florida is usually out favorite trip. A lot of these rivers and springs make you feel like you're in Jurassic Park or on some exotic island.
We camp in Florida every spring due to weather (less bugs, no hurricanes or tropical storms, cooler temps), and we just got back from our camping trip to Wekiwa Springs! I'm going to touch on our recent trip in this blog but also highlight other springs we have traveled to!
Wekiwa Springs State Park
Wekiwa is located right above Orlando, so about a 5 hour trip from Macon, GA. This state park offers a campground, trails and the natural spring. The campground is walking distance from trails and the spring, but the entire park is open to the public. The spring is basically a huge swimming pool.
You can rent kayaks from the spring and paddle down the river or bring your own. You can bring coolers and food (grills only allowed in certain areas), and they even have their own snack/concession stand on location as well. If you decide to visit this spring, I would plan ahead if you're not camping in the park. Both days the spring reached max capacity and outside guests had to be turned away (There were more outside guests than campers down at the spring, but due to it's popularity people who are not camping come every day!). I would suggest having a back up plan if turned away, going on a week day, or going either very early or later in the afternoon.
We kayaked from King's Landing on Rock Springs river (about ten minutes from our campground). King's Landing offers kayak rentals, even glass bottom kayaks! You can kayak up the river where it's shallow, narrow, and clear waters. There several areas where you can stop for a break, eat a snack and even rope swing. Then you can kayak down the river about 8.5 miles to a take out spot. This river also has tube rentals to float down in a separate area of the river.
More Spring Options in Florida
My family and I have been camping and exploring Florida springs for years now, so here are some of the ones we have traveled to. Florida has over 50 natural springs & parks. We want to see every one of them! You will need to research each spring because they are not all the same. Some are only for swimming while others you can swim and paddle. Also, another thing to remember is not all parks allow pets!
Crystal River Springs
Madison Blue Hole
Another question we get a lot on our trips is the wildlife we encounter. Some of these parks & springs have monkeys, alligators, turtles, manatees, otters, cranes, beavers, etc. We have never been threatened or attacked by any but please be smart. You are entering their home, and they deserve their space and respect. BE SMART. But don't let the wildlife scare you to the point of not exploring. We paddle with our smaller dogs, and we make sure to keep them safely in our laps when kayaking in waters we know alligators are swimming. Chances are an alligator is more scared of you than you are of them.
Fun Facts & Tips
If camping isn't for you, some of these springs can be day trips (from GA) or just stay in a local hotel
Spring water is freezing, so if you go in a cooler month you want a wetsuit (Might I suggest Rip Curl ;) ). During the hot summer months, it's pretty refreshing!
Please respect the wild life you see while on your trip - they won't bother you if you won't bother them
Florida has the best campgrounds in the south (from what we have seen)
No lifeguards are on duty at any spring we have explored so please be careful when swimming
My favorite animal I see when exploring Florida is manatees
Silver Springs might be my favorite river but you cannot swim in this spring
My mermaid fins make swimming 10x easier and more fun - they are Mahina Mermaid Fins
You can find a map and list of Florida Springs on Google