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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.)

paddle Silver River, kayak, canoe

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)
Nearby points of interest: Silver River State Park, Silver Springs Nature Park, Appleton Museum (Ocala)

Silver River... Comments and Photos

Paddle downstream from the launch at the state park, follow the Silver River or take the Fort King Waterway as an alternate route to the river. The take-out is at Ray Wayside Park, just upstream from where the Silver River joins the Ocklawaha River. Fishing is prohibited, as is landing along the shores of the river.

Silver Springs State Park Launch

Rentals are available or you can launch your own vessel at the park. It's a short carry from parking area to the launch. Launch is easy on and off.


Spring Basin

This area can be reached by a short paddle from the launch area, or by paddling up the Silver River. When paddling within the State Park, remain in your watercraft and watch for the glass-bottomed boats.


Silver River

From the State Park Launch downstream to Ray Wayside Park (parking, restrooms, picnicking, and boat ramp; shuttle back to the State Park). Due to the strong water output, the clear water and lush subtropical vegetation make this one of the most scenic in Florida. You can also paddle upstream from the launch at Ray Wayside Park - the trip upstream can be strenuous, but then enjoy the float back.

Fort King Waterway

From the State Park Launch a short distance on the right (before the park bridge) is Fort King Waterway, an alternative route to the Silver River. 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.

The Monkeys and Wildlife

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.

The Monkeys

Other Wildlife


About Silver Springs State Park

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.

Also visit us here: Paddling Ocklawaha River


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