Kayaking on Florida’s Silver River and Silver Springs

 

Silver River is a nature lover’s dream and the best way to see it is from the water. All wildlife on the river is protected and as a result most of the animals seem undisturbed by the humans they encounter along the river. The highlight, Silver Springs, is a 1st magnitude spring pumping more than 550 million gallons of water per day.

Glass Bottom Boat and Kayaker on Silver Springs. Photo © Beverly Hill

The flow from Silver Springs is strong and steady, making for quite the workout for paddlers heading upstream, however it is well worth the effort and makes for an easy drift back downstream to the take-out. When planning a trip it’s best to start early to avoid the majority of motorboats and air boats that tend to fill the river by midday.

 

 

Wildlife Along the Silver River, Florida

Silver River is the perfect place for nature photography and there are many species to choose from. Common birds seen along the Silver River include anhinga, cormorant, gallinule, moor hen, heron, egret, osprey and hawk. Visitors can almost always expect to see turtles, alligators, gars and sometimes otters.

Anhinga Drying its Wings on Silver River. Photo © Beverly Hill

Ducks on Silver River. Photo © Beverly Hill

 

Lucky visitors may even catch a glimpse of the non-native Rhesus Macaques that call the area home. These monkeys were introduced in the 1930s by Colonel Tooey to enhance his Jungle Cruise boat ride. The monkeys were released on an island in the river from which they promptly escaped and formed wild troops which can still be seen today.

 

Swimming in the Silver River is ill-advised due to the presence of large alligators. When paddling be sure to keep an eye out for these creatures both above and below the waters and give them a wide berth. Alligators usually don’t bother paddlers but it’s better to err on the side of caution. An alligator displaying an open mouth and hissing is giving a clear warning to back off.

Alligator on Silver River Near Ocala, FL

 

Upon entering the Silver Springs run the first thing visitors will notice is the incredibly blue water. Electric glass-bottom boats cruise past taking riders on a magical tour to hover over springs while the tour guide points out the sights. While in the spring area paddlers should keep an eye out for the glass-bottom boats and yield to them when they approach.

Once within the run to the Silver Springs attraction paddlers must remain in their boats and are not permitted to land. This includes no anchoring to snorkel, swim or scuba dive. Instead paddlers should be prepared to admire the beauty of the head springs in the same fashion as the glass-bottom boat riders — by peering down into the crystal clear depths.

Put-in and Take-out Locations for Silver River

Travel one mile east of Silver Springs on Hwy 40 to the boat launch at Ray Wayside Park. Once the kayaks and canoes are in the water it’s a short trip down the canal to the Silver River. Turn right and head approximately 5 miles to Silver Springs. Turning left at the canal will put travelers on the Oklawaha River.

Entering Silver River State Park. Photo © Beverly Hill

For a shorter trip paddlers can put in at the state park on SR 35, however, the downside to this is that the portage from the parking lot to the boat ramp is 0.07 miles in length. The head springs are only about 2 miles from the State Park.

For those who don’t have access to a canoe or kayak consider renting one from Silver River State Park or take a ride on the glass-bottom boats at Silver Springs Nature Park instead. This is definitely a must experience trip that shouldn’t be missed.

This article is copyrighted by Beverly Hill

About Beverly Hill

Beverly is a deputy clerk with the Florida court system and is an experienced writer in her free time. Her love of adventure and the outdoors is what fuels her desire to seek out new and exciting things.
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