Silver Springs State Park has a rich history dating back to the 1870s, and it still enchants visitors today. The park's glass-bottom boat tours are one of the oldest attractions in the state. Crystal-clear springs offer a peek into an underwater world teeming with life. Sitting just an hour and a half from Orlando, the park makes a great stop-over spot for those RVing across Florida, but it is also a destination in its own right.
There are loads of outdoor adventures waiting for you at Silver Springs. You can bike or hike the park's extensive trail network, which offers scenic views of the Silver River. Come in spring or summer to see the gardens of Silver Springs State Park in their full glory. Here you can see all sorts of native Florida flora and fauna, with wildflowers being the star attraction. Unwind and take a serene stroll through the rock garden or the Camellia garden. The park offers guided tours as well.
The swamps, forests, and waterways at Silver Springs provide homes for a wide variety of wildlife. Here, you'll have the chance to black bears, hundreds of species of birds, and dozens of species of reptiles and amphibians. Alligators are sometimes seen in the park's crystal clear waters, and the sandy uplands are host to a small population of gopher tortoises, a keystone species of tremendous ecological importance. You also won’t want to miss a chance to stop by the Silver River Museum and Education Center, which features exhibits on the natural and cultural history of the area. Another must-see site at the park is the Cracker Village, which is a walk-through replica of a 19th-century pioneer settlement.
A lovely forested campground at Silver Springs sports over 50 RV- and trailer-suitable campsites, and the park rents out several cabins as well. Reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance.
Roads to, and within, Silver Springs State Park are paved and well maintained. There's not much in the way of topography in central Florida, so there's no need to worry about sharp turns or steep hills.
There are two main parking lots within the park. The first is located by the Entrance Station and the Sand Hill Trailhead. The other is located at the Silver River Museum, which is close to the Sink Hole Trailhead, the River Trailhead, and the boardwalk. RV and trailer parking are available in both lots. You can also, of course, park at the campground if you are staying overnight. Both back-in and pull-through spots are available, so you should have no problem maneuvering into a spot even if you have a large rig. Several trailheads, as well as the Silver River Museum, are within easy walking distance of the campground.
Surrounded by the 400,000-acre Ocala National Forest, the Fort McCoy/Lake Oklawaha KOA is perched on a bluff with wonderful views of Lake Oklawaha below. Visit Orlando less than two hours away, hike a section of the Florida Scenic Trail, or ride a bike or ATV through the Ocala National Forest, just 40 minutes south of Fort McCoy, FL. You'll have access to 3,700 feet of lakefront during your stay at Fort McCoy/Lake Oklawaha KOA. Full hookup sites with 50-amp service are available, and many offer at least partial shade. The maximum pull-through length is 81 feet, so even the biggest rigs should have no trouble finding a spot. Cook in the kitchen or by the campfire, fish in the campground's well-stocked lake, or just enjoy lounging by the pool.
Silver Springs' beautiful campground looks like it could be set in the heart of a jungle. The sub-tropical vegetation here is rich - palmettos cover the forest floor, while live oaks, magnolias, tupelos, and more create a thick green shield that provides great shade even on the hottest of summer days.
In total, the park's spacious campsite boasts 59 sites. These sites are suitable for both tent campers and RV and trailer campers. The latter can bring rigs up to 50 feet long. Each site has water and electric (50-amp) service, and though sites do not have sewage hookups, there is a dump station is located within the park. Modern restrooms and bathhouses with hot-water showers are both available. The campground is also pet-friendly, so long as you abide by the park's pet policy.
Silver Springs' gorgeous campground is centrally located, putting visitors within easy walking distance of hiking trails, the Silver River Museum, and the majestic waters of the Silver River itself. Reservations can be made from one day to 11 months in advance.
If you wish to stay outside of the park, you can park at a private campground or RV resort in the small town of Silver Springs, which sits right next to the park, or the city of Ocala, which sits just ten minutes to the west. Private accommodations may feature a range of modern amenities such as wireless internet, cable TV, and swimming pools.
If you're looking for less humble accommodations, you should check out Silver Springs' cabins. These charming wooden abodes are located underneath shady oak and pine trees and accommodate up to six people. Cabins all have two bedrooms and a bathroom and feature full dining areas equipped with a gas fireplace, a stove, several kitchen appliances and all the flatware and cookware you'd need to prepare a great meal for the whole family. Cabins also have both heating and AC, so there's no need to worry about a cold snap or a heatwave putting a damper on your visit.
If you'd like to cook outside or just sit by a crackling fire, the cabins have you covered - each comes with a grill and fire ring, just as the normal campsites do. Screened-in porches let visitors enjoy calm evenings, replete with the sounds of crickets and the glow of fireflies, without getting eaten up by mosquitoes.
If you plan on coming through during the weekend, you should note that weekend bookings require a minimum two nights stay. Other than that, reservations follow the same system as the normal campsites.
If you're organizing a large event, you may want to look into Silver Springs' primitive group camping site. Though rustic (there are no electric hookups, water or modern restrooms), this spacious site, sitting underneath towering loblolly pines, is quite picturesque. Group campers still have access to the main campground's facilities, too, albeit from farther away.
Unlike the park's normal campsites, the group campsite cannot be reserved online. The park asks that you call their ranger station if you're interested in a reservation.
At the Silver River Museum and Educational Center, you can see engaging exhibits on the history of Florida as well as the ecology, geology, and hydrology of the park. Cracker Village is another must-see. There, you can explore life in the 1800s by visiting a replica pioneer settlement complete with a homestead, a schoolhouse, and a blacksmith shop.
In addition to its glass-bottom boat tours, Silver Springs offers several ranger-lead walks and hikes. Though summer is the busiest season, programs are offered year-round (though only on weekends). Programs range from tranquil strolls through the park gardens to birding expeditions to a "Florida Safari." Guided tours are a great way to learn about the park's unique natural history.
One of the best ways to spend a quiet afternoon at Silver Spring is to enjoy a scenic picnic at one of the park's beautiful picnic areas. There are hundreds of picnic tables throughout the park. You can also bring a blanket to find your own spot to eat. Charcoal grills are available for use at several of the picnic areas, too.
Geocaching is like a modern-day treasure hunt, and it's a popular activity at Silver Springs. Geocachers can find trinkets hidden by others by following GPS coordinates posted on websites and smartphone apps. Discover hidden caches and bury some treasure of your own! This is a thrilling way to explore the park that the whole family can enjoy.
Make sure to pack binoculars in your rig if you're heading to Silver Springs State Park. There are tremendous wildlife viewing opportunities here, especially since the park boasts several very different habitat types. You can look for wild turkey, woodpeckers, and quail in dry, pine-clad uplands. In swampy areas or along the riverbank, you may see wading birds such as egrets, herons, or rails. Endemic wildlife includes alligators, the Florida black bear, and gopher tortoises.
Another must-do during any trip to Silver Springs State Park is a walk in the gardens. Enjoy some quietude and take in the beautiful sites and scents as you stroll through the numerous gardens, including the reflection garden and the rock garden. There are rocking chairs, benches, and picnic tables where you can take a rest and enjoy the serenity of Florida's beauty.
If you are interested in venturing out on the waters on your own during your visit to Silver Springs State Park, take advantage of the five-mile stretch of the Silver River available to you within the park. Or, if you're looking for a shorter trip, you can also take a canoe or kayak and paddle the 1.1-mile loop around Ross Allen Island. It's no exaggeration to claim these waters are crystal clear. Gliding over them, you'll almost seem to be sailing over the air. Plus, paddling along the river, there are plenty of great opportunities to see wildlife like wading birds, raptors, and turtles.
A must-do during your RV vacation to Silver Springs State Park is taking a tour on the park’s famous glass-bottom boats. These unique excursions have been wowing visitors for over 100 years. Take in the impressive underwater diversity from the comfort of the boat such. In addition to a host of beautiful plant species, you can expect to see fish, turtles and maybe even an alligator or two. The 30-minute tour runs seven days a week, and you’ll be guided by expert boat captians through many amazing sites like the mammoth spring, the blue grotto, and the abyss. The spring water's clarity is truly spectacular - it's no wonder people have been flocking here for over a century!
If you plan on bringing your mountain bike with you to the park, you can ride on over ten miles of off-road trails that weave their way through the park's forests. Road bikes can also be used on the paved road between the picnic area and ranger station. Though it doesn't make for a very long ride, it's certainly a pleasant one, offering good views and the chance to see some of the park's forest wildlife.
Silver Springs State Park offers a myriad of opportunities for hikers. Park your rig and hit the trail! There's a variety of habitats to explore, including lush forests, dry uplands, verdant swamps, and the shores of the beautiful Silver River. The Sandhill Trail is a scenic 1.7-mile loop that will take you through the a stand of stately longleaf pines; this long-lived, noble species used to cover much of the American south, but today it's presence has been diminished to 2% of its previous range. You can also take the Swamp Trail or the River Trail, which will take you along limpid streams and critter-filled wetlands.