Silver Springs has been a vacation spot in Florida since after the Civil War. This spring is well known as the scenery for movies such as Creature from the Black Lagoon and Moonraker. Silver Springs remains iconic for its glass bottom boat tour originating in the 1870s. This spring has a lot of history, but it is still a place to make wonderful memories today.
As you pass through the main entrance, you will come upon a large parking lot. Towards the left side of the lot is the main entrance to the state park, where you will see the giant archway. On the far-right side of the parking lot is the drop-in spot for paddling.
If you have a Florida State Park Pass, it will cover your park entry fee of $2. You can pay for the glass bottom boat tour and arrange a time at the kiosks at the state park entrance. It is $13 per person; there is a slight discount for those over the age of 50.
For more information on the Florida State Park Annual Pass, like where to buy, how much it is, and what being a pass holder entails, click HERE
Glass Bottom Boat Tours
The boat tour runs every 30 minutes, starting at 10:00 a.m. and running until 5:00 p.m. You can make reservations ahead of time on the website, but there is always plenty of room for walk-ins. There is a 90-minute boat tour available Friday through Sunday at 11:00, 1:00, and 3:00. You will need to report to the waiting area 15 minutes prior to the departure time. Right by the dock area are covered benches and rocking Adirondack chairs where you can relax and enjoy the views. On the glass-bottom boat tour, you will learn more about the history of Silver Springs and gaze upon the beauty that brought Hollywood and many films. The guides will point out several famous movie moments, such as the cave where the Creature from the Black Lagoon appears. And three famous statues that made cameos alongside Mr. 007 himself. The tour guides will also point out historic treasures below, cleverly hiding beneath the rippling surface. This tour is a great way to see the many fish and turtles hanging out among the forest of eelgrass and sandy underwater beaches.
Before or after the tour, you can walk the scenic paved trails surrounding the spring. When facing the boat dock area, to your left are several paved walkways that will weave through trees and garden foliage to a giant mural of a Cooter turtle. Next to the mural is a statue of Chief Osceola, who led the Seminoles during the Seminole Wars. Any tripping hazards along the paved trail are marked with yellow paint. The paved walkway will lead you to ¾ mile loop called Creek Trail.
On the other side of the park, you can follow a paved sidewalk to a large bridge that will transport you over the water to Ross Allen Island. The path loops around the small island, giving you a view of river paddlers, a wooden amphitheater, and lush tropical greenery.
Paddling at Silver Springs State Park
For those wanting to explore more of Silver Springs by water, you can paddle the Fort King Waterway, which leads you to the Silver River. There are kayaks and canoes available for rental. Single kayak rentals for one hour starting at $25.00. If you want to just paddle the loop to the spring head, a one-hour rental will suffice. If you want to paddle the loop then veer towards the right to follow the river, two hours or a full-day rental is the best choice. If you plan on paddling all the way down the river towards Wayside Park, which is 5 miles down, you can organize a shuttle pick-up, so you don’t have to paddle back. If you bring your watercraft, it is $15.00 for the shuttle. If you are renting, the price starts at $45.00 for a full-day rental and shuttle. You can also book a clear paddle board tour through Ecoventure, where Josh will show you all the beauty of Silver Springs while educating you on what makes this spring special.
Looking for a guided Eco-Tour to explore Silver Springs? Ecoventure Tours uses 100% Clear Stand-Up Paddle Boards and takes you around the scenic route of this spring run. Click HERE for more details on Ecoventure Tours - Silver Springs. This tour is Florida Springs Passport APPROVED.
When booking your rental ahead of time, you will need to fill out waivers and information beforehand, which you will receive in an email. If you bring a watercraft, you do not need to make a reservation for a drop-in time and can fill anything out there. When checking in for your paddle, you will need to visit the small wooden hut. If you brought a watercraft, it is $4.00 for the drop-in fee and $2.00 for the park entry. Again, if you have a Florida State Park Pass, the $2.00 entry fee is covered by that.
Besides picturesque views framed by trees decorated with Spanish moss, there are sights to see along the paddle trail of Fort King Waterway. For fish, you will see channel catfish, blue tilapia, needlefish, blue gill, Florida gar, large and smallmouth bass. There are turtles sunbathing on the logs or swimming around. Most of them are the Suwannee Cooter/Florida Cooter turtle. Brought to the area by Ross Allen in the 1930s, you can see rhesus monkeys hanging out in the trees. And, of course, since you are in Florida, you will see gators. You are more likely to see them once you get to the larger part of the river, not so much along the loop. There are building remnants from theme parks along the loop that you can see from the Fort King Waterway. Now there is one more animal you should keep your eyes peeled for...the manatee. There is a handful that live in the spring year-round. But from the month of November to January, they do have more manatee visitors.
Catfish | Blue Tilapia | Needlefish | Blue Gill | Florida Gar | Large/Smallmouth Bass | Alligators | Suwannee/Florida Cooter Turtle | Manatees | Cormorant | Anhinga | Rhesus Monkey
Things to Bring
Swimsuit | Change of Clothes | Water/Snacks | Sunscreen | Hat/Layers | State Park Pass | Camera/Go Pro | Watercraft (with lifejacket)