Did you know that the most abundant concentrations of freshwater springs in the world are located in northern and central Florida? I didn’t either until I visited the Silver Springs. Geologists estimate that there are over 600 springs in Flordia producing more than 8 billion gallons of water a day. Yes, a day! 33 of the springs are first-magnitude springs with a flow of over 65 million gallons water a day.
Silver Springs consists of 30 springs with 61 vents and with a flow of 500 million gallons per day makes this spring one of the largest first magnitude spring in the United States and even the world. The water exiting this springs is about 20 years old and started as rainfall in a 750 square mile radius. The rainwater entering the ground is dissolving the limestone bedrock, forming sinkholes, caverns, and springs. The underground river, running under cities, lawns, and businesses, in the porous limestone, is called the Floridian Aquifer, the source of 90% of the state’s drinking water. The water temperature is 72 degrees Fahrenheit year-round.
The biggest opening of the springs, called mammoth or main spring, is located right in front of the boardwalk. It measures 5 feet by 135 feet and a depth of 30 feet. This vent is estimated to discharge 45% of the water flow from all the springs that make up Silver Springs. The water of Silver Springs runs down the 4.5 miles long Silver River and runs into the Ocklawaha River.
Silver Springs was one of the first of Florida’s tourist attractions long before Orlando became one of the main tourist spots in Florida.
The park quickly became renowned for the Glass Bottom Boat tours. The glass bottom allows visitors of the guided boat tours to have an amazing view of the underwater world and a great view down mammoth spring when the boat drives over it.
Besides the glass bottom boat tours, you can rent kayaks and canoes or bring even your own boat and launch it close by.
There are shops, restaurants and gift shops along the boardwalk. Close to the boardwalk is the “Sun Deck“. Sit down here on rocker chairs to relax and enjoy the view.
There is an extensive trail system and I recommend you to follow it down to the “Sea Hunt Deck“. From the deck, you can see another spring vent. Along the trail is the “Rock Garden” and a playground for kids.
Near the main entrance of Silver Springs is another trail, the Ross Allen Island Boardwalk. This boardwalk loops around the island and back and offers some great views of one of the side channels of Silver Springs.