Rock Springs Kelly Park 

What to expect: A gorgeous natural Florida spring and a relaxing natural lazy river. A convenient location, close to Orlando, but surrounded by serene nature and lots of Florida Wildlife. 

The beautiful Rock Springs starts flowing in Kelly Park. It runs downstream for 8 miles before merging with another spring from Wekiwa Springs State Park to form the Wekiva River.

Orlando’s Natural Lazy River: Adventure and Florida Wildlife

Rock Springs is inside the city of Apopka, but it doesn’t feel like the city at all because it’s surrounded by protected land. It feels like a true natural adventure. For being inside a city, there’s a surprising amount of Florida wildlife.

I think the wildlife is so abundant at 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.

From the map it appears as if all of these natural areas are continuously connected. This is great because it expands natural ecosystem and lets wildlife roam around safely.

  • Kelly park
  • Rock springs kelly park
  • Wekiwa springs state park
  • Rock springs run
  • Rock springs run state preserve
  • Wekiva river buffer conservation area
  • Seminole state forest
  • Black Bear Wilderness Area
  • Blue Springs State Park

Very high chances to see some form of local Florida wildlife:

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

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

  • Bald eagle
  • Otters
  • Black bear
  • Alligator
  • Snakes

Uh… Did You Say There Are Alligators?

Yes, alligators are sometimes found at Kelly Park/Rock Springs.

This is from the Orange County website:

Question: Are there really alligators and snakes in the water?

Answer: It is not a common occurrence but from time to time we do see wildlife such as alligators and snakes in the water. If you see an alligator, notify any staff on site; they will then verify the sighting and activate the protocols that are in place for such instances.

Alligators lurk in nearly every large body of water in Orange, Seminole, Lake and Osceola counties.

Source: https://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/breaking-news/os-alligators-central-florida-swimming-holes-20150814-story.html

There’s at least one recorded incident of an alligator attack in the region. This article describes an attack on a woman swimming in the Wekiva River. Tragically, she had part of her arm bitten off.

Source: https://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/breaking-news/os-alligators-central-florida-swimming-holes-20150814-story.html

Kelly Park and Rock Springs swimming and tubing

The water in Kelly Park Rock Springs is 68 degrees all the time, which makes it a year-round destination. In the summer the water is refreshing and cool 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

Tubes are available for rent outside the park, but aren’t available from the inside-park concessionaire. You’re allowed to bring your own tubes and pool noodles, but they can’t be more than 5 feet long or wide.

Canoeing and Kayaking

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

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! 

Highlights:

  • Beautiful water
  • Swimming
  • Tubing (Rent from outside the park or bring your own)
  • Pristine nature
  • Hiking trails
  • Cool limestone boulders and rock formations
  • Limestone caves
  • Camping
  • Great chances to see wildlife
  • Unbelievably clear water
  • Family-friendly adventure
  • Full-service concession: Snacks and some river gear
  • Picnic pavilions
  • Playground
  • On-site camping and other options close by
  • 30 miles from Orlando!

Extra fun: Hunting for Shark Teeth

A really fun and unique feature of Rock Springs is the chance to find shark teeth. They’re left over from Florida’s fascinating geologic past, when oceans covered all of Florida. The shark teeth are trapped in layers of ancient limestone, and get blasted out by the flowing spring water.