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As you may have already heard, I spent a little time exploring Orlando and the surrounding areas recently. One of the most notable stops along the way was Kelly Park Rock Springs Run State Preserve, or as it's better known, Kelly Park Rock Spring. Undoubtedly it was the highlight of my mini-vacation, but how does it compare to some of the other springs I've been to?
I'm glad you asked!
First and foremost, I have to say that the geography around this particular spring has trumped the majority of the other springs I've had the pleasure of visiting including Rainbow River, Weeki Wachee, Crystal River, and Wall Springs. It's not a huge list by any means, but I do believe those are some of the most popular springs people visit in this area anyways. (You can read about each of them by clicking on their names above.)
I think it perhaps would only have fallen short to Devil's Den, but can you really expect any place to compare? And even at that, it was similarly beautiful - boasting large rock formations and a cave headspring (but you couldn't go into the cave). Oh - but for full disclosure, as enchanting as the rocks are they come at a price. This is one spring that you should definitely be wearing water shoes at.
On the flip side, Kelly Park is cheap! Much cheaper than Devil's Den, which is around $13+ per person and you have to wear specific swimming gear. Kelly Park was only $3 for two people to get in, plus you can bring your own tubes and float down the river unlimited times or just hang out and swim in the main area, pictured on the cover on the left.
Another thing that I really enjoyed about this particular spring is that the park is actually set up like a typical nature park with plenty of green space, trails, picnic tables, and pavilions for rent. The park is very remote and one of the few spring parks I've come across that appears to be less commercial and more about actually enjoying nature -- and let's be honest, enjoying nature is easy when you're surrounded by it.
During my day-visit I witnessed several family of deer, freshwater fish, and many of Florida's tropical birds. It kind of felt like I was a character in a Disney movie.
Now let's talk about how crowded (or how not crowded) it was.
I know that most, if not all of the springs fill up fast during the summer, however, I have to admit I was impressed to see so many parking spots open during my visit in October. Of course, that's not peak season but it was nice to know that the park has a large capacity limit so even if you try to make it out on a summer day, I'd say there's still hope of getting in.
I went during a week day and when the outside temperature was in the high 70s, which isn't exactly the best time to go swimming for most people -- thus, the park was ideally calm and quiet with a surge of people coming and going only occasionally.
Perhaps the best part of all though, is that no boaters were allowed in the park's spring! That's right, no worrying about getting your head chopped off by a boat propeller here. The same thing can be said only for the designated swimming areas of Weeki Wachee and Rainbow River -- and we already know how crowded those can get.
Though it doesn't have mermaids, a waterfall or manatees, overall, I have to say up to this point Kelly Park Rock Springs is easily my favorite spring to date. There are plenty of areas to get into the water, the park is very nature-y and outstandingly beautiful, and, best of all, it was super cheap!
Some notable things I wish I would have known before I went: