Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Silver Springs State Park...

The first attraction that we took our visiting grandsons was to the glass-bottom boats at Silver Springs State Park. The park is directly across State Road 40 from our RV park. Since the 1870's the Silver River, fed by a series of natural springs, has been a growing tourist attraction. The abundance of wildlife includes manatees, alligators, armadillos, wild boars, and gopher tortoises. Originally, they used pole barges and then steam boats to shuttle tourists through Florida's first tourist attraction. After the turn of the century, entrepreneurs acquired this privately owned land and developed the glass-bottom boat.

The 1930's brought some interesting events to the area. A number of movies
were filmed in the Silver Springs area including several Tarzan movies, Rebel Without a Cause, and some episodes of the Sea Hunt TV show. And in 1938 a small colony of rhesus macaque monkeys were released by a tour boat operator for his Jungle Cruise ride. The glass-bottom boats are used to exhibit several of the springs that feed the river, show some of the movie props left behind, and try to show some of the wildlife.

Because of the current pandemic, a number of the most interesting exhibits are not currently open. They do have hiking and horseback trails, kayaking, and camping. The staff that we met were friendly and very professional. The boat excursion is available in both 30 and 90 minutes versions. We highly recommend the 90 minute ride. On our visit we did see the monkeys, several alligators, lots of turtles, and many bird species. Unfortunately, we did not see any manatees on our 90 minute ride. This is a wonderful resource that is well worth the $8 per carload entrance fee.

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