Rock Springs at Kelly Park: Beautiful Spring and Park

Rock Springs is one of the most beautiful springs in Florida, and one of my favorite springs to visit.

Kelly Park is less than 30 miles away from Orlando, but to me, it feels like I’m in a different world.

The spring and park is surrounded by beautiful, peaceful nature and lots of Florida Wildlife. I think the county does a great job at balancing the natural spring experience with an appropriate level of infrastrucutre and park amenities.

The main attraction at Kelly Park is a gorgeous natural spring and spring run, which is great for tubing. I usually tell people to imagine a “natural lazy river” to set expectations.

Rock Springs starts flowing from its spring vent, located inside Dr. Howard A. Kelly Park. After rising from the spring vent, it forms a small, clear river known as Rock Springs Run.

Rock Springs Run flows downstream for 8 miles. There, it merges with another spring run to form the Wekiva River.

Florida Springs Guides

We created a guide to the best springs in Florida, along with an interactive springs map.

If you want to find new springs you might not know about, we also suggest this guide, “Touring the Springs of Florida“. It lists most of the major springs in Florida, including lesser-known springs. It’s very well organized, and easy to use.

Tubing

Most people who visit Rock Springs do so for the amazing tubing. This is our favorite activity.

Kelly Park/Rock Springs is a natural lazy river near Orlando
Tubing at Kelly Park/Rock Springs Run, a natural lazy river

The process for tubing Rock Springs is that you float from the top of the spring run, to the bottom, then repeat as much or as little as you want.

Tubes are available for rent outside the park, but they aren’t available from inside Kelly Park. The concessionaire does have other stuff for sale, but they don’t rent tubes.

You’re allowed to bring your own tubes and pool noodles. I suggest bringing your own tube to avoid the hassle of dealing with an outside rental.

Tubes are surprisingly inexpensive. They’re almost the same price as a rental, plus you get to have your own forever, and avoid the cost of renting in the future. We like these tubes and always see a lot of other people with them.

Continue Reading:   Bok Tower and Gardens

Note: If you bring your own tubes, remember that tubes can’t be more than 5 feet long or wide!

This video shows the entire process for tubing Rock Springs, from entering the park to exiting the spring run.

To tube Rock Springs, you launch your tube at the top of the spring run, near the spring’s vent.

This is where all of the water flows out of, into Rock Springs Run. There are wooden stairs which go down toward the river, and it’s very easy.

Some people launch their tubes a bit further upstream, above the bridge, and closer to the spring vent. This requires navigating through rocks, though. It’s best to launch from the tube launching point downstream from the bridge.

You’ll float through a beautiful natural lazy river, and under a beautiful canopy of trees. It almost feels like a jungle.

Some areas will have shallow spots, and there are rocks in some areas that you need to dodge. You’ll often see wildlife on the sides of the spring run.

About 15-20 minutes after launching you’ll get to a bridge, which is the end of the tubing run. There is a long, easy ramp out of the river.

After you float the river you can walk back up along a paved path to float down again, or take a break. Many people float the spring run over and over, spending all day on the river.

Note: Kayaking is allowed in the spring run below the bridge, but swimming and tubing are prohibited past the wooden bridge and exit.

Alligators: What to Know

Note: Alligators do live in the wilderness around Rock Springs, and sometimes enter Kelly Park. There are warning signs all around the park.

If an alligator is seen near swimming areas the park staff may close the area, and may remove the alligator.

Alligator activity can sometimes require temporary closures, although they do not usually cause problems.

I have never personally seen a gator while visiting Kelly Park, although it does happen, and I’ve seen gators in other springs before.

In my experience, alligators do not like to be around people, and rarely cause problems at springs.

Continue Reading:   Blue Springs State Park
Official signs are posted warning of alligators in Kelly Park/Rock Springs
Many official signs are posted warning of snakes and alligators in Kelly Park/Rock Springs

The following video shows a 5 ft. alligator being removed from Rock Springs.

Many signs in Kelly Park/Rock Springs warn alligators, snakes and dangerous wildlife. Alligators can live in nearly every large body of water in Florida.

There’s at least one recorded incident of a serious alligator attack in the region. In the past the spring and river have been closed to swimming, tubing and water entry due to alligator danger. It is always a good idea to check the park status before visiting, and be sure to notify park personnel if you see a gator.

Wildlife

Rock Springs is located inside the city of Apopka, but it doesn’t feel like the city at all.

It’s surrounded by environmentally protected land, and feels like a true natural adventure. For being inside a city, there’s a surprising amount of Florida wildlife.

Deer in Kelly Park/Rock Springs Run

One reason wildlife is so abundant around Rock Springs is because of the huge amount of protected land; they have a much larger habitat to roam through.

If you look at a google map you’ll see a huge area of green protected areas.

Almost all of these natural areas are continuously connected to each other. This lets wildlife roam freely, and expands their natural habitat.

  • Kelly park/Rock Springs
  • Wekiwa Springs State Park
  • Rock Springs Run
  • Lower Wekiva River
  • Rock Springs Run State Preserve
  • Wekiva River Buffer Conservation Area
  • Seminole State Forest
  • Black Bear Wilderness Area
  • Blue Springs State Park
Wildlife found in Kelly Park/Rock Springs
Wildlife found in Kelly Park/Rock Springs

Visitors to Rock Springs Kelly Park, and the surrounding areas, often see local Florida wildlife:

  • Birds
  • Squirrels
  • Raccoons
  • Turkeys
  • Deer
  • Snakes
  • Fish
  • Turtle

If you’re lucky you might even see rare Florida animals:

  • Bald eagle
  • Otters
  • Black bear
  • Alligators
  • Snakes
A list of snakes found in Kelly Park/Rock Springs
A list of snakes you might see in Kelly Park/Rock Springs, and how to identify them

Water Temperature

The water in Kelly Park Rock Springs is 68 degrees all the time. That makes it a year-round destination.

In the summer the water is refreshingly cold on a hot, sweaty summer day. On a warm winter day it’s still fine for swimming or floating.

Swimming

There are shallow, sandy areas perfect for children, and also larger, deeper areas for older kids.

Tubing Rock Springs
Swimming at Kelly Park/Rock Springs

The largest swimming area is in the main pool section.

The main swimming area in Kelly Park/Rock Springs
The main swimming area in Kelly Park/Rock Springs

There is also a very small swimming area near the Rock Springs head spring, although most of the spring run in the upper section is blocked by rocks in the water.

Rocks in Rock Spring/Kelly Park
Much of the upper section of Rock Springs Run is filled with large rocks in shallow water

There is a very small area near the head spring vent with water which is a bit deeper. Jumping or diving into the water in this area is extremely dangerous due to shallow depths and rocks, which can cause serious injury.

Head spring at Rock Springs Kelly Park
Head spring at Rock Springs Kelly Park

Canoeing and Kayaking

Kayaking Rock Springs/Kelly Park

Excellent Canoeing and kayaking is available further downstream at King’s Landing, but is not allowed within Kelly Park.

Canoe and kayak launch at Rock Springs/Kelly Park

Canoe and kayak launching is usually available at Camp Joy. It was closed for quite a long time, but it now appears to be open, at least partially. More information can be found at the Camp Joy webpage.

Continue Reading:   Seven Sisters Spring

Important Visiting Tip: Get there early!

Kelly Park/Rock Springs has strict visitor limits to preserve the environment and prevent overcrowding.

It’s best to try to go on weekdays. If you must go on a weekend try to arrive as early as possible to have a better chance of getting in!

Park Amenities

  • Full-service on-site food and concession: Snacks and some river gear
  • Picnic pavilions and BBQ grills
  • Children’s playground
  • Volleyball courts
  • Beautiful, crystal clear water
  • Swimming
  • Tubing (Tube rentals are available outside the park or bring your own)
  • Pristine nature and hiking trails
  • Cool limestone caves, boulders and rock formations
  • Great chances to see wildlife
  • Very family-friendly
  • 30 miles from Orlando!

Campground

There is a nice campground in Kelly Park for on-site camping, including sites for tents and RVs.

There are also other options for camping nearby. One of my favorite places to camp is Wekiwa Springs State Park, which also has its own springs and paddling.

A nearby campground, Camp Joy, is available for group camping by reservation only.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

One Comment

  1. We live nearby in Apopka, this is a good guide and great photos of Rock Springs! If there’s one tip I always give people, get there early during the summer! You wouldn’t BELIEVE the lines of cars we see waiting some weekends. The campground in Kelly Park is also a good tip if you want to be first ones in the park.