By Cheri Sicard
The team from CampTravelExplore is counting down their top 5 springs in Florida that have a campground attached!
The team says these crystal-clear springs are some of the Sunshine State’s finest attractions and should be on the bucket list of any RVer visiting.
Even if you don’t have a Florida trip planned, the extraordinarily beautiful eye candy in this video might have you rethinking your plans.
So what are the best Florida springs with campgrounds?
#5 Wekiwa Springs State Park: About 45 minutes from Orlando, this park features a large swimming area set in a beautiful, pristine forest setting. Hiking is big here and there are even some boardwalk trails. Kayaking is also popular, but be prepared to see some alligators. Most campsites are woody and shaded.
#4 Blue Spring State Park: This park is about 45 minutes from Daytona. In the winter months, the manatees tend to huddle around the headspring here, so you could get lucky and see some of these gentle marine giants. The extensive boardwalk trails follow the spring itself.
#3 Gilchrist Blue Springs: About 45 minutes from Gainesville, this is one of Florida’s newest state parks. This one has a large headspring and swimming area with incredible crystal-clear blue waters that have to be seen to be appreciated. Gilchrist Springs feeds into the Santa Fe River, and the kayaking here is outstanding. Kayak rentals and services are available on-site. You’ll also find some nice wooded hiking trails that follow the river.
#2 Rock Springs at Kelly Park: A popular park that’s about 20 minutes from Mt. Dora, Rock Springs is part of the Orange County parks system. The spectacularly scenic park fills up fast on the weekends, so plan ahead on this one. Reservations are only accepted 45 days out. Kayaking is great here. There’s also a large area for swimming with a big man-made sand beach.
#1 Rainbow Springs State Park: About 45 minutes outside of Ocala in the heart of Central Florida, Rainbow Springs State Park is known for its exceptionally clear and large swimming area. On the downside, the campground is a few miles away from the swimming section, but you can use the swimming area when camping at the park.
The scenic kayaking on the Rainbow River here is outstanding with visibility down into the water of 25 feet or more. The boardwalk hiking trails offer vistas of areas of the park you might otherwise miss. You can even arrange to rent tubes, float down the Rainbow River, and someone will come and pick you up and shuttle you back to camp. How fun is that?
Be sure to watch the video to get a look at all these parks. They even offer recommendations for the best campsites in the parks.
Camp Travel/Explore apparently failed to visit Manatee Springs State Park in Chiefland. The spring is a first magnitude spring and dumps into the Suwannee River, a short stroll down a boardwalk. Swimming in the spring is exquisite and the campground is as nice as any mentioned in their Top 5. And as a long time Florida resident, I have visited/camped at all five listed.
They also skipped my favorite place, which shall remain unnamed. And that’s a good thing! These springs are under pressure from overuse.