Floridian Nature

Learn about Florida's beautiful and unique nature.





Florida Nature: Silver Springs
alligator sunning at Silver Springs FloridaSilver Springs is a hidden treasure in north central Florida that is usually missed by most tourists. It is located near Ocala, Florida just 75 miles  north of Orlando. Silver Springs is the site of one of the largest artesian spring formations in the world, producing nearly 550 million gallons of crystal-clear water daily. Silver Springs forms the headwaters of the Silver River, the largest tributary on the Ocklawaha River, a part of the St. Johns River system. The waters of Silver Springs and the nearby Silver River are so transparent that this has become a favorite location for the filming of underwater scenes in many movies and television shows. Since at least the mid 19th century, the natural beauty of Silver Springs has attracted visitors from around the country. Glass bottom boat tours of the springs began in the late 1870s. In the 1920s, Carl Ray and W.M. Davidson made the land around the headwaters of the Spring into something resembling the attraction that is there today, now known as the Silver Springs Nature Theme Park. The attraction features native animal exhibits and glass bottom boat tours of the springs. Downstream from the attraction is the Silver River State Park.

Silver River State Park is one of the most recent acquisitions in Florida's State Park system. The park has over 5,000 acres containing 14 distinct plant communities, nearly 20 miles of river frontage and many springs.

This park has more than 10 distinct natural communities, dozens of springs, and miles of beautiful trails. The "River Trail" is 3/4 mile in length and leads from the parking area to the Silver River. This trail offers an excellent view of the river. Be sure to bring your camera. "Sink Hole Trail" is a combination of 3 trails totaling 3 1/2 miles. It will take you through mixed forest, hardwood hammock, scrub and sand hill communities. You will find interpretive signs along the trail to help you enjoy your Real Florida. There are benches and picnic tables for you convenience. "Silver River Museum & Education Center and Cracker Village" is part of the Marion County School System. This is a partnership between the Florida Park Service and Marion County schools to provide hands on environmental studies.


Silver River in beautiful Silver Springs FloridaAt the Silver Springs attraction visitors find a natural constant water temperature of 74 degrees, adding to the tropical nature and enjoyment of this special place for people and animals alike. There are beautifully landscaped grounds with cultivated botanical gardens on site. Silver Springs’ beautiful botanical gardens feature more than 138 varieties of native and exotic plants showcased in floral sculptures and flower beds along the banks of the Silver River.

Big Gator Lagoon is a one-acre cypress swamp habitat featuring more than three dozen of Florida’s largest alligators, most 11 to 13 feet in length! Guests observe these large reptiles from the safety of an elevated boardwalk. Ross Allen Island features a collection of native snakes, turtles, spiders, otters and other animals found in Florida. The exhibit also showcases archive photographs and information on the world famous naturalist Ross Allen. For nearly fifty years, Ross Allen owned and operated the Ross Allen Reptile Institute at Silver Springs which contained an extensive collection of snakes, crocodilians, and animals from around the world. World of Bears is the largest bear exhibit of its kind in the world. Two acres of outdoor habitats showcase a variety of rare and endangered bear species including North American black bears, and Kodiaks (the only brown bears on exhibit in Florida).

Glass Bottom Boats offer passengers an unparalleled view of underwater life in the 99.8% pure waters of the Silver River. Our boats, with U.S. Coast Guard licensed captains, will take you on an enchanting tour of the seven major spring formations at the headwaters. Fort King River Cruise carries you through Silver Springs’ 10,000 year history. Interactive exhibits and displays include a working archaeological dig site, Seminole Indian village, the 1830s Fort King Army stockade, a late 1880s riverboat dock and train depot, and an authentic Florida pioneer “Cracker” homestead.  Lost River Voyage transports guests back in time to wild Florida as it was thousands of years ago—untouched and untamed. Riverbanks are lined with towering bald cypress trees, some more than 500 years old. See alligators, turtles, heron, osprey, and other wildlife basking and feeding in their natural habitat.

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Silver Springs is located near Ocala, Florida just 75 miles north of Orlando. Silver Springs is the site of one of the largest artesian spring formations in the world, producing nearly 550 million gallons of crystal-clear water daily. Silver Springs forms the headwaters of the Silver River, the largest tributary on the Ocklawaha River, a part of the St. Johns River system. The waters of Silver Springs and the nearby Silver River are so transparent that this has become a favorite location for the filming of underwater scenes in many movies and television shows.
Once a staple vacation spot for Floridian nature lovers, Silver springs has fallen on hard times. It has gone from being owned by ABC to private ownership and is now about to be taken over by the state of Florida. Almost nothing remains of the original park, except for the glass bottom boats. The jungle cruise, the reptile institute and even most of the wild monkeys are just a part of history now. We are hoping new things are in Silver Springs future.
Silver Springs
Date published: 10/23/2013
2 / 5 stars