One of our favorite springs day trips is to Rock Springs. Rock Springs and Kelly Park is located 2 hours from Jacksonville, just north of Orlando. Kelly Park is a county park, where you can swim, tube, and camp. The swimming and tubing at Kelly Park was closed due to COVID when we visited. Because of that, we started our day at King’s Landing, a few miles away from the park. If you’re looking for an amazing summer day trip from Jacksonville, Rock Springs and Kelly Park does not disappoint.
Launch Kayaks from King’s Landing for Rock Springs
King’s Landing is a launch site on the Wekiva River where you can rent kayaks and canoes. There are two options when you get on the river. You can go left out of King’s Landing and drift downstream 8.5 miles to the Wekiva Island Marina. There you can catch a shuttle back to your car at King’s Landing. Your other option (and what we recommends) is that you go right out of King’s Landing and paddle upstream towards Kelly Park. After that you’ll drift back downstream to finish at King’s Landing. Going right will take you through what’s called the Emerald Cut, which is a simply stunning area of the spring.
Paddle Rock Springs to the Emerald Cut
One of our favorite parts about paddling upstream towards Kelly Park was the crystal clear water and sandy bottoms of Rock Springs. The cool, inviting waters had tons of spots along the way where you could get out and swim, looking for fish or even a turtle.
Much of the river is shaded along the way. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled because there are lots of birds to spot.
Take Lunch and Spend the Day on the River
The paddle upstream towards Kelly Park took us a little over 1.5 hours. That time includes a few swim stops along the way. When you reach Kelly Park, you can’t dock and get out, but there are sandy areas near the turn around point where you can stop for a snack before heading back downstream.
It took us 3 hours for us to go round trip up to Kelly Park and then back down to King’s Landing. Paddling upstream can be a workout, but coming back you glide down effortlessly with the current. Just be sure to keep and eye out for low lying branches.
If you’re interested in learning more about springs in Florida, we recommend Touring the Springs of Florida: A Guide to the State’s Best Springs. It’s a great resource for day trips that your family is sure to love!
Shannon is a former Special Education teacher, turned stay at home mom that doesn’t spend a lot of time staying at home. Mom to Cole & Kiley, she loves cheering on the Gators, early morning visits to the beach and traveling with her family. She blogs about her family travel adventures at The Beckham Project and hosts the podcast, Jacksonville Momcast, where she chats with Jacksonville moms about motherhood and more in the 904.