It’s still rainy in Summerdale, AL so I am working on catching up with my blog. I stayed at Silver Springs State Park in late January and early February.
The campground part of this state park used to be called Silver River State park, then in 1993 the state acquired Silver Springs (the touristy part), but it was operated privately until 2013 when the concessionaire gave it up. Apparently the old Silver Springs had some zoo animals, a reptile farm, rides , vendors and anything to draw in tourist. Also, the river now has a lot of algae on the bottom where it used to be white sand on the bottom. Different groups (we saw some from a university) are working on the issue. The state is working on cleaning everything up, bringing it back to a natural state. I saw some reviews where people don’t like the new plan, but most appreciate what the state is doing.
While here, I took the Glass bottom boat tour twice. I took the longer tour that is only offered 3 times a week. For me, the beauty was not thru the glass bottom of the boat, but the scenery and the wildlife.
Many of the old Tarzan movies, the old TV show Sea Hunt, a Bond movie and many more TV shows and movies were filmed here. We learned how Sea Hunt (with Lloyd Bridges and sons) was filmed on the river and made to look like the sea.
We saw many turtles -- The Boat captain decided that I was a Bird expert (because I identified a few birds before he did) and I pointed out the Black Crowned Night Heron to him. (pictured below). Unfortunately he tried to get a bit closer and he hit a Cypress knee which damaged the boat motor. Luckily it was just some type of pin that he had spares for and had us back underway in about 10 minutes.
In 1938 6 Rhesus monkeys were released for tourist reasons and have gone wild. There are estimates of 500 – 2000 (depending on who you listen to) of these monkeys now in Florida. A couple of different times they started capturing these monkeys due to concerns over diseases that they carry and the fact they are not native, but due to many complaints they quit doing that. In 2013 there was an article in the New York Post with a heading “ Herpes infected monkies terrorize Florida”! While I understand both sides of the controversy, it was fun seeing a few on one of my boat rides. Scenery from the boat --
I also hiked most of the trails in the State Park. One of my favorite was Swamp Trail. The first part of it was thru typical Florida foliage but near the end is a boardwalk over a swampy area and then a dock at the Silver River.
The view from the end of the trail --
On my first visit, I saw a snake in the swampy area and after watching him several minutes a ranger came up. He was there snake expert and had heard a large snake was hanging out in the area. The lighting wasn’t very good and at first the ranger was very excited because he thought it was some type of Indigo snake that was rare for this area. But after looking at my pictures he realized it was a Water Moccasin – a large one! I ended up seeing him each of the 3 times I hiked this trail, he liked wrapping around a tree.
Yes, I was on the boardwalk when I took these photos. He was probably 15 – 25 feet away from me.
I enjoyed this park as it had major shopping nearby in Ocala, places to bike and hike in the park, a paved bike trail about 15 minutes away and a nice quiet campground.
Next I headed to Beverly Hills!! That’s Beverly Hills, Florida not California!!