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, photos and more description below.)
Rentals are available or you can launch your own vessel at the park. You can also paddle upstream from the Ray Wayside Park launch on the Ocklawaha River (the Silver River is a tributary of the Ocklawaha) 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 playground, restaurant, camping, hiking and equestrian trails, off-road biking, paddling, 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.
More information on Silver Springs and paddling on the Silver River (opens in a new window):
See also: Paddling Ocklawaha River
Paddling in Florida - Kayak, Canoe
Support and AdvocacyFriends of Silver River State Park
Silver Springs Alliance