Marion County’s famous Silver Springs attraction is finally in the hands of Florida’s state park representatives. The restoration of this beautiful spring is now no longer a rumor in the midst, but a work in progress. The exotic plants are being removed and replaced with native species, the boats are being refurbished and brought back to their original glory, and there are educational rooms where the shops used to be. In addition, old dilapidated walkways and buildings are either being replaced or removed entirely. This process will take years and require patience on the part of the volunteers, vendors, and most of all our community. Change can be difficult. However, when the outcome leaves us with a healthier more natural environment it is a win for all of us.
Joining in on the restoration is ‘The Friends of Silver Springs State Park’. They are a not-for-profit, Citizen Support Organization (CSO). This is a group that volunteers its time to special events, park improvement, and helping expand the public’s understanding of the importance of our park’s health. For more information or to sign up to volunteer call 352-236-7148, check out their Facebook, or visit their website at www.thefriendsofsilverriver.org.
New to the park is a kayak rental and launch site!!! Discovery Kayak Tours will be available at the launch site 7 days a week with the first launch available at 9am and the last launch at 3pm. Guided tours will also be available upon request. Currently Discovery Kayak does not offer a pick up or shuttle service so your adventure will have to be round trip. For more information on Discovery Kayak Tours call 352-789-4959, check out their Facebook, or visit www.DiscoveryKayakTours.com. There will be a $4 fee(per boat) to launch with your own kayak or canoe plus the park entry. Silver Springs has not offered this amenity since the 1920’s and it is sure to be a welcome addition to the park.
2 hour rental, $10 each additional hour.
Includes, kayak, paddle, & life vest.
- single kayak $20
- double kayak $25
- canoe $25
(Fees subject to change at any time)
World famous glass bottom boat rides are still available. Tours start at 10:00 a.m. with the last ride departing at 4:00 p.m. These beloved boats have recently undergone a much needed make over and are ready to take you on an informative trip down the spring. ‘The Springside Restaurant’ is now open from 10:00am to 4:30pm for patrons in the park. Both the glass bottom boat rides and ‘The Springside Restaurant’ are now under contract with ‘What’s Up Media’. They will also be managing the new concert line up, and should have a concert schedule available soon.
Fee’s for the glass bottom boat ride:
- $14.99 for boat tour & lunch
- $9.99 for boat tour only
- Ages 6 and under ride FREE
From the entrance on Baseline Road, formerly the Silver River State Park entrance, visitors will have access to the Silver River, hiking trails, and off road bicycling. Cactus Jack’s Trail Rides offers well- mannered horses and guided tours for those who do not have their own mounts. For more information or to schedule a ride call 352-266-9326, check out their Facebook, or visit www.cactusjackstrailrides.com. On weekends and holidays visitors can enjoy the Silver River Museum and Environmental Education Center. The museum features exhibits on Florida’s history and ecology. Admission is only $2 per person. During the week, it is available for school groups only.
The park will now be open 7 days a week, 8 a.m. to sunset. Entry to the park will be $5 for a single occupant vehicle or $8 per vehicle, up to 8 people. Individuals, bicyclists, extra passengers, and groups will pay $2 per person. Admission will cover both the spring and river portions of the park. The park is honoring old ‘Silver Springs’ annual passes to cover parking until December or until they expire whichever comes first. If you would like to purchase a state park pass the costs are $63.60 for individual or $127.20 for a family pass (up to 8 people) includes tax. They offer a 25% discount for both active and retired military. There is also a lifetime military pass FREE with proof of military disability (DD214 or VA Card that states service connected). Wild Waters is expected to re-open in the spring.