Experiences & Amenities
Temporary Trail Closures
During prolonged periods of rain, wetland areas such as the Northern Equestrian Trails and Southeast Trails (Bike and Ft King Historic Trails) are prone to flooding and may be periodically closed for visitor safety. Please visit or contact the ranger station to find out the status of these trails at 352-236-7148, ext. 4.
Limited opportunities for bicycling on paved trails exist within the park. However, many trails are available for mountain biking. At the campground and museum entrance, the paved road between the ranger station and the picnic area is 1.1 miles and offers opportunities for wildlife viewing underneath the shade of pines and scenic oak trees. Additional opportunities for bicycling on paved trails is available on the nearby Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway.
Bicycling is permitted at the main entrance on the sidewalks around the headsprings and gardens. However, due to potential congestion, bicycling is not permitted in the immediate vicinity of the entrance boardwalk, town center, and glass bottom boat area. Please dismount and yield to pedestrians. There is a bike rack near the fountain but please remember to bring a lock. Helmets are highly recommended for all cyclists and Florida law requires helmets for cyclists age 16 and under.
Silver Springs is part of the Great Florida Birding & Wildlife Trail's east section. In the park's upland habitats, look for wild turkey, bobwhite quail, hairy woodpecker, and American kestrel. In the hammocks, swamp, and along the river, numerous wading birds and limpkin are common, as well as wood ducks and black-bellied whistling ducks. During migration, Silver Springs' location, on the edge of the wildland-urban interface, becomes a "trap", attracting dozens of species of thrushes, warblers, vireos, and other songbirds.
Home of the famous glass bottom boats, Silver Springs has offered the amazing tour for the last 100 years. View "nature's underwater fairyland" without getting wet! See thousands of fish, dozens of turtles, and maybe even an alligator or two. The boat captains will expertly guide you to dozens of springs, including three different first magnitude springs, such as the mammoth spring, the abyss, and the blue grotto.
The 30 minute tours run seven days a week and are operated by a visitor service provider. Same day tickets may be purchased as early as 9 a.m., but you may not purchase tickets in advance for future dates. Tickets are available for purchase in the gift shop, the Spring Side Cafe or the Paradise Treats Fudge & Ice Cream shop. Children under 6 years old are free. Senior rates are available. Group rates for schools, clubs, and other organizations are available as well. Sorry, pets are not allowed.
There are no motor boat launches available inside the park. However, a launch is available at Ray Wayside County Park. Admission fees may apply.
- The entire length of the 5 mile Silver River is within the boundaries of Silver Springs State Park and is subject to park rules per Florida Administrative Code 62D-2.
- All motor boats must obey the posted "No Wake/Idle Speed Only" signage for the entire river. It takes approximately 2 hours to travel to the head springs and approximately 1 hour to return for a total round trip time of 3 hours. There are no places to disembark at any point in the river and there is no anchoring or tying off anywhere on the river. Please plan accordingly.
- Boats should stay in the main channel to avoid damage to propellers as well as damage to submerged aquatic vegetation, especially during times of low river levels.
Located beneath shady oaks and beautiful pine trees, Silver Springs' vacation cabins accommodate up to six people. Each cabin has a full dining area, two bedrooms, one bath, stove, refrigerator, microwave, dishwasher, gas fireplace (October 1 to April 30), central cooling and heating, large screened porch, dishes, pots and pans, silverware, linen, towels, picnic tables and rockers on the porch. Outside there is a campfire ring with seating as well as a grill. Food and personal hygiene items will not be provided. Guests make their own beds. Cabin #6, a fully accessible vacation cabin, includes a wheelchair-friendly ramp that leads to the front porch as well as to the campfire ring.
- For the guest's comfort and relaxation, Wi-Fi, televisions and phones are NOT provided in the cabins. Wi-Fi is only available at the ranger station or the restaurant at the main entrance. Pets are not permitted in the cabins or anywhere in the cabin area.
- There is a minimum two nights stay in cabins on weekends and holidays, either Friday and Saturday night, or Saturday and Sunday nights. A single night weekend stay may be reserved only if there is a two night stay already booked by another guest.
- Cabin rental fee: $110 per night, plus tax, plus a non-refundable $6.70 reservation fee.
Fifty-nine spacious sites in two campground loops easily accommodate large camping units, with a maximum recreational vehicle length of 50 feet. Each site offers water and electric hook-ups with recently upgraded 50 amp service. All sites have a fire ring, barbecue grill and picnic table. A separate dump station for holding tanks is located in the Park. Firewood is available for purchase at the Ranger Station. Well-behaved pets are allowed in the campground, but not in the cabins or cabin area in accordance with our Pet Policy. Sites 20 & 53 are fully accessible with paved pads and sidewalks leading to both of the campground bathhouses.
Camping, Primitive Group
The primitive group camping area, set amid tall pines, is for organized groups only, with preference given to youth groups. The area includes picnic tables and fire rings at each site.
No water is available and there are no shower facilities. Firewood is available for purchase at the ranger station but may not be collected in the park. Machetes and saws are not permitted. Only one fire per site in designated fire ring. Quiet hours are 10:30 p.m. to 8 a.m. and check-out time is 1 p.m. Pets are permitted in accordance with our Pet Policy.
- To make a reservation, call the ranger station at 352-236-7148 ext. 4.
- Fees are $5 per adult and $1 per youth, per night, plus tax.
The Fort King Paddling trail allows visitors to take their canoe or kayak on a leisurely 1.1 mile round trip loop around Ross Allen island. After launching at the main entrance, follow the signage for the meandering Fort King waterway. When the waterway connects with the Silver River, turn left and head upstream as you paddle over dozens of springs. There is a slight current from all of the water being discharged as you paddle to the headsprings. Please pay attention to your surroundings and yield to the glass bottom boats because it is difficult for them to make sharp turns or sudden stops if you get in their way. Total round-trip trail time ranges anywhere from 1 hour to 2 hours depending on how much time you spend exploring all of the different springs.
For a longer trip, you can paddle approximately 5 miles between the main entrance canoe and kayak launch and the boat launch at Ray Wayside park (separate admission fees may apply). You will need to arrange for your own transportation or you can use the livery and shuttle service provided by the park. If you decide to paddle each way and back (10 miles), please keep in mind that the slight current of 3-5 miles per hour may not seem like much but it can be tiring after 5 miles paddling upriver. Please plan ahead and check the weather and notify a friend or family member of your plans before your trip.
- For those planning extended paddle trips on the Silver River and then the Ocklawaha, please keep in mind that you must contact the Ranger Station during regular business hours and recieve a parking pass before parking overnight. Please visit the station or call 352-236-7148 ext. 4.
- The only place to get in and out of the river between the headsprings launch and the Ray Wayside boat launch is at the 2 mile mark. Mile markers begin at the headsprings and continue down 5.4 miles until the confluence of the Silver River and the Ocklawaha river.
- Canoe and kayak rentals are available from the park concessionaire on a first-come, first-serve basis, Monday through Sunday, beginning at 8:00 a.m. Visit their website for detailed information about hours and prices.
Silver Springs State Park has many options for hosting family gatherings. The Camping & Museum Entrance to the park has three rentable pavilions with grills and the Main Entrance has one. Reservations can be made by calling (352) 236-7148 or coming into the Ranger Station. Other gatherings at the Main Entrance locations at the Paradise Ballroom, Twin Oaks Mansion, and other locations are accommodated through the concession. Please contact (352) 261-5840 for more information.
Geocaching is an outdoor game using hand-held global positioning systems (GPS) devices. It's effectively an inexpensive, interactive, high-tech treasure hunt that's a great way to learn geography. Participants use location coordinates to find caches. Some caches are easy to find; others are more difficult. The biggest reward is the thrill of the search and the discovery of a place where you have never been. Geocaching should have minimal impact to the environment and conscientious land use ethics should be followed.
Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and take a walk in one of the park's hiking and nature trails.
The main entrance offers access to the newly created Creek Trail, a 3/4 mile loop that can be accessed behind the large pavilion. Visitors must first walk through the gardens to access the creek trail.
Also accessible from the main entrance is the Spring Connector Trail, blazed light blue, that connects the Main Entrance area to the Silver River Museum via the sandhill trail (yellow) and the sinkhole trail (red). This trail is 2.3 miles one-way and over 4.6 miles round-trip from end to end, but can be shortened for an out and back or a side hike on the Sandhill Trail.
The camping and museum entrance has parking areas for access to five trails.
- The Sandhill trail, blazed yellow, has parking right next to the ranger station, and is a 1.7 mile loop trail, and takes visitors through some of the park's longleaf pine uplands.
- The Sinkhole trail, blazed red, is a 2.2 mile loop trail, and the Old Field Loop is 0.8 miles. These are both upland trails. For access to these park near the Silver River Museum in the day use area and utilize the 'Sinkhole Trail' archway to the left of the Museum.
- The Swamp trail, blazed orange, is a 1.9 mile loop trail, and the River trail, blazed dark blue, is 1.3 miles. These are also accessible from the Silver RIver Museum. Both trails begin at the 'River Trails' archway to the right of the Museum in the uplands before transitioning to wetland habitats. Both scenic overlooks of the Silver River. You can usually leave the rubber boots at home, however, since the Swamp trail has a boardwalk through its namesake swamp and the River trail uses an old limerock road.
There are dedicated mountain bike and equestrian trails that may also be used for hiking but may be seasonally inundated. Call the ranger station for the latest conditions.
Remember to dress appropriately and bring plenty of water, sunblock, insect repellent, and anything else you need to be comfortable. For more tips on gear for longer hikes, check out the American Hiking Society's top 10 essentials of hiking.
Silver Springs State Park has 4.5 miles of dedicated off-road bicycling trails suitable for fat tire bicycles. Additionally, mountain bicycles may use another 10 miles of hiking trails. Bicyclists should yield to other users on those trails.
- Numerous unmarked service roads and fire breaks intersect the trails so make sure to remain on marked and posted trails to avoid becoming lost.
- Helmets are highly recommended for all cyclists and Florida law requires helmets for cyclists age 16 and under.
- Other trail riding opportunities are available at the nearby Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway.
Whether you are visiting with a friend or a large extended family, a picnic is a simple yet great way to enjoy the park. Hundreds of picnic tables are available at picnic pavilions and throughout the grounds of park at the main entrance and the camping entrance. If you bring a picnic blanket you can find your own spot to eat. If you are unsure whether a particular location is suitable for a picnic blanket, please ask a park ranger.
- Charcoal grills are available at the main entrance in the picnic area near the canoe and kayak launch on the south end of the main parking area and at a few locations inside. There are also charcoal grills in the picnic area at the camping entrance. This area also has a playground for children.
- Coolers are welcome in all areas of the park but if you feel like letting someone else do the cooking, you can get a meal, snack, or ice cream to-go from the Springside Cafe or Paradise Treats. Catering for large groups is also available but please call ahead. Alcoholic beverages are not permitted inside the park.
- Properly dispose of all food to avoid accidentally feeding the wildlife. Unattended picnics attract ants as well as squirrels, raccoons, and possibly even bears. Wildlife that begins to associate humans with food will lose its natural behavior and become a nuisance animal.
Guided tours and walks are offered almost every single weekend. Some of the regularly scheduled guided tours and walks include:
- Glass Bottom Boat Tours
- Coffee with the Birds
- Nature Hikes with David
- Florida Safari
- Cracker Village Tour (2nd and 4th Saturday)
- Garden Tour
- Pack Walk
If your class, school, organization, business, or club would like to schedule a field trip and have a ranger program, please call 352-236-7148 ext. 5 and leave a voicemail and someone will return your call. Please give us as much advance notice as possible, preferably 3 weeks or more.
If you prefer a leisurely stroll instead of a strenuous hike you have come to the right place. The park's main entrance has paved sidewalks along the banks of the beautiful Silver River as well as paths through new and historic gardens. Some of the places you can explore include the rock garden, the Camellia garden, the Osceola garden, the reflection garden, and the wildflower garden. There are plenty of benches, rocking chairs, and picnic tables that provide places to take a break.
Silver Springs State Park offers one of the most beautiful venues in Florida for your wedding.
Almost 5,000 acres of varying habitats provide a wonderful home for many different species of mammals, reptiles and birds. Frequent sightings in the uplands include armadillos, deer, turkey, fox, Sherman Fox Squirrel and gopher tortoises. Less frequently seen are coyote, bobcats and Florida Black Bear. The river is home to alligators, turtles, and many species of fish. Bird life is plentiful! Silver Springs is the home to a significant population of Limpkins, and many other water and woodland birds. Pick up your Wildlife listing at the Ranger Station.
Canoe Kayak Launch
This convenient launch offers direct access to the headsprings area and the Fort King waterway. In addition to the park admission fee, there is a $4 launch fee to utilize this launch. On weekends and holidays this launch can be very crowded so be prepared to quickly load and unload your vehicle. The park opens at 8 a.m. and the launch closes an hour before sundown. Overnight parking is available. Please visit the Ranger Station or call 352-236-7148 ext. 4.
The camping and museum entrance also has a canoe and kayak launch, however there is a portage of approximately 0.6 miles on the river trail to reach the launch. The launch is approximately 1.8 miles downstream from the headsprings area. There is no additional launch fee to use this facility. This is the only place for canoes and kayaks to exit the river between the headsprings and Ray Wayside Park.
Motorized vessels are PROHIBITED from using the canoe and kayak launches. This includes canoes with electric motors. Presently, there is no location to launch a motorized vessel at Silver Springs State Park. A boat launch is located near the confluence of the Silver and Ocklawaha Rivers at Ray Wayside County Park (Ocala Boat Basin). This boat launch is approximately 5 miles downstream from the headsprings. Separate admission fees may apply.
Concession and Restaurant
From the main entrance visit the Spring Side Cafe and Paradise Treats and enjoy a dining experience with views of the water and glass bottom boats. The Spring Side Cafe opens at 9:00 a.m. every day and has a breakfast menu as well as a full lunch menu and daily specials. Adult beverages are available but may not be consumed outside of the restaurant area. The Paradise Treats sweet shop still has hand-made fudge as well as ice cream and other baked goods. Paradise Treats opens daily at 9 a.m.
Silver Springs State Park is committed to providing inclusive recreational experiences for all of our visitors. We encourage you to engage in the many accessible amenities we offer, and we strive to accommodate you in a respectful and dignified manner. Please let us know what we can do to enhance your recreational experience by approaching a park ranger or by calling the ranger station at (352) 236 - 7148. Some of the park's accessible amenities include:
- Overnight accommodations
- Museum and Education Center
Silver Springs State Parks hosts both nationally recognized names and local acts in its Twin Oaks Amphitheater. Check the events page frequently to learn about upcoming shows as they are announced. Concert tickets are sold through the park's concessionaire. Not only used for concerts, the amphitheater may be rented and is frequently used to provide entertainment during festivals and holidays. It is a wonderful place to bring a camp chair and enjoy the entertainment in a fantastic setting.
Many of the park's facilities are fully accessible. Check individual activity descriptions for more information. Additionally, the park's main entrance has four wheelchairs available on a first-come, first-served basis. If one is not available, please call the ranger station at 352-236-7148 ext. 4, for assistance.
The Silver River Museum and Educational Center is open to the public on weekends (Saturday and Sunday), as well as certain holidays (Friday or Monday), from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The museum and museum area are CLOSED on weekdays because classes are in session. Admission is $2 per person; children under 6 receive free entrance. The museum is operated by the Marion County School District in cooperation with the Florida Park Service.
The Museum is composed of two exhibit areas, the main museum and the history wing. The Main Museum contains exhibits relating to Florida geology, paleontology, archaeology, and natural history. The History Wing contains exhibits relating to Marion County and Florida history since written records became available with the arrival of the first European explorers. The museum facilities, including the cracker homestead, are fully accessible, although the homestead has a lot of sandy areas.
The Cracker Village is a replica of a 19th century pioneer settlement and is available for exploration during the Museum's hours of operation. This collection of buildings represents a small "Cracker'' settlement dating to the 1890s. A typical homestead of the time would have included a cabin and outbuildings such as a barn, pantry, smokehouse, and outhouse. Schoolhouses, churches, and blacksmith shops would have been found in settlements that homesteaders visited to attend social gatherings and barter for supplies. Tours are given on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of every month at 10 a.m.
Restoration of the historic gardens at Silver Springs started in 2014 with the removal of invasive exotic weeds and the planting of native Florida plants and non-native Florida "friendly" ornamentals. Additionally, techniques to minimize the use of fertilizer and irrigation were adopted to avoid affecting the nearby springs. With the assistance of a landscape architect, four key areas were identified for restoration, including the newly installed wildflower garden. The gardens receive care from park staff and volunteers as well as partner organizations such as the Pioneer Garden Club, the Ocala Camellia Society (facebook) and the Florida Wildflower Foundation.
In addition to more formal landscaping, many sections of the gardens have had shrubs and trees planted and the rangers have stopped mowing in these areas to encourage the growth of native grasses and herbs. While it may not seem aesthetically pleasing at first, please bear with us as it will take some time to achieve the desired future condition. In the mean time, enjoy the sights of seasonal wildflowers, as well as the wildlife attracted by seeds and insects.
Park staff offer guided tours of the gardens on the 2nd Sunday of every month and indoor gardening workshops when weather does not permit a walking tour.
Well behaved pets are welcome in the Silver Springs campground, picnic area and on the hiking trails. Owners are expected to clean up after their pets and leashes are required at all times. Pets are not permitted on the glass bottom boats or in any buildings, including: cabins, the museum, education center, restrooms and the restaurant. Service animals are welcome in all areas of the park.
Large and small picnic pavilions are available for rental from the park. Grill out or just relax with your group. On days that they are not rented they are available first come, first served.
- At the camping and museum entrance there are three pavilions, one large and two small, next to a playground. These have relaxing scenery and are located in a pine forest.
- At the main entrance, a large pavilion can be found at the end of the gardens on a small hill with a view of the garden and a partial view of the Silver River.
- Pavilions are rented by calling 352-236-7148 ext. 4 or by visiting the Ranger Station.
The Education Center at the Main Entrance is a great place to learn more about Silver Springs State Park and the important part it played in history and the important part it continues to play in contributing to a healthy Florida ecosystem. Featuring both a Natural Resource room and a Cultural Resource room, visitors can explore both the history and the present of this unique park.
The park has a number of restroom facilities of various size and comfort.
- At the main entrance there is a small restroom near the front entrance ticket booth and an extra large restroom near the glass bottom boats and restaurant. At the end of the gardens and the beginning of the creek trail there is also a small restroom. At this time the canoe and kayak launch only has portable restrooms.
- The camping and museum entrance has a restroom in the picnic area next to the playground and pavilions. All of the campgrounds and cabins have restrooms and shower facilities with hot water. The campground facilities are only open to registered campers. The Silver River Museum restrooms are only open on weekends when the museum is open.
- The equestrian entrance only has portable restrooms.
At the camping and museum entrance there is a playground featuring a swingset, slides and monkey bars. The ground surface is a unique rubber mat that provides a safe surface in case of "spills". At this time there is no playground at the main entrance but there are plans to develop one in the future.
Single-Stream Recycling is available for the campground and cabins. Single-stream means that recyclables can be commingled in one container. However, please do NOT place any food waste, styrofoam, plastic bags, or shredded paper in the recycling bins or dumpsters provided in the campground and cabins. For questions about acceptable articles, please call the ranger station at 352-236-7148 and press "4".
Horse Equestrian Trail
The entrance to the equestrian trails can be found on State Road 40 near the intersection with State Road 326, 1.3 miles east of the Main Entrance. The trails open at 8:00 am and close one hour before sunset. Maps are available at the trailhead near the pay station. Non-potable water is available for horses by hand pump but you must bring your own buckets.
If you do not have your own horse, Cactus Jack's Trail Rides will offer groups or individuals (6 years and up) rides at the nearby Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway, part of the Florida State Parks. Call for reservations at 352-266-9326.
Silver Springs State Park’s equestrian trails traverse a wetland habitat. Unless we are in drought conditions, expect areas of mud and standing water along the trails. In the warmer seasons there may be biting insects, plan accordingly.
Information about the park's history, flora, and fauna can be found throughout the main entrance gardens at a number of small exhibit panels. Additionally there is a two-room "Education Center" located between the gift shop and the restaurant. At the camping and museum entrance there are small interpretive exhibits at some trail heads and along some of the hiking trails. The Silver River Museum and Cracker Village, open on weekends, has over 50 individual exhibits.