Sunday, June 8, 2008

Kayaking the Silver River in Ocala

On Saturday, Mike and I drove to Ocala to kayak up the Silver River with a friend of mine from high school and several of his friends. This beautiful trip takes you through part of the Ocala National Forest and if you go all the way up the river, you end up at the spring head, which is at the Silver Springs attraction. That's right, you can kayak right into the area where the world-famous glass-bottom boats launch every few minutes.

I won't waste a lot of words in this post. Instead, I'll just tell you that we paddled so far I thought my arms would fall off, but seeing as how I'm typing this, you can guess the arms remain intact. And I'll tell you that you would be hard pressed to find a more beautiful place to kayak in Central Florida than this pristine river. Just look at the color of the water:

These beautiful red flowers, which I believe are in the salvia family, are growing everywhere.

And of course, it wouldn't be Florida without a gator. This one's hiding pretty well:

Hopefully Tom Palmer will comment and tell us what kind of bird this is:

We saw tons of turtles sunning themselves on logs:

One of our rest stops was at the Silver River State Park canoe launch. There are THOUSANDS of minnows that hang around here. My guess is that they stay because they are fed by visitors. These minnows make beautiful shapes while swimming in schools. Below, part of the school broke off and formed a tornado of sorts:

An interesting thing the Silver River is known for is the fact that there are wild Rhesus monkeys living near the attraction. Legend has it that they are leftovers from the days when the Tarzan movies were filmed at the attraction. I can't tell you how disappointed I was that I didn't see any on my trip. But they are there! I've seen them in the past.

Here's some good information if you ever decide to kayak the Silver River. I recommend parking at the Ray Wayside Park on S.R. 40, just east of the Silver Springs attraction. I'm an Ocala native, and we always called this place "the Boat Basin." So if you're in the area and get lost, you better ask for directions to the Boat Basin because a) no one will know where Ray Wayside Park is and b) why give away the fact that you're not from around here?
Bring cash, because parking is $5. There's a great canoe/kayak launch that was designed by an Eagle Scout years ago. When you get into the water, you'll head south and take your first right to head up the Silver River.
For more information on kayaking the Silver River, visit this Central Florida Kayak Trips Web site.


Anonymous said...

It's a Double-crested Cormorant. Sounded like a lovely paddle.

Jan said...

i haven't looked up the red flowers to find their name, but my instinct is something like foxglove. I am probably wrong...i'll go check and be back with more info if i find it. I love this post! Flowers, birds, water...what more could anyone want?? That water is gorgeous with the blue hue...just amazing!!

Lakelandmom said...

Truly Awesome photos! Now I know exactly where I'm going kayaking! Anyone want to loan me their kayak? lol, jk. Thanks for sharing, this is wonderful information.