Going to Orlando for a break? One of Florida's best-kept summer secrets is located just 17 miles northwest of Orlando. Head on over to Kelly Park and see a park inhabited by alligators and famous for tubing. A fun family day out to Kelly Park's lazy Rock Springs Run is one of the many fun activities one can enjoy while having an affordable time in Orlando.
Orlando is so much more than just the famous Disney and Universal Studios theme parks. It is located in the middle of some of Florida's most stunning scenery. One of the popular outdoor activities around Orlando is to explore the swamps and search for alligators with an airboat tour.
Kelly Park's Lazy Rock Springs Run
Kelly Park's official name is "Dr. Howard A. Kelly Park, and it is located in Orange County in Florida. It also borders Wekiwa Springs State Park and Rock Springs Run State Reserve. Key Park/Rock Springs is one of the most beautiful springs in Florida.
- Location: 17 Miles or 30 Minutes Drive From Orlando
- Size: 355 Acres
Rock Springs originates just out of Kelly Park from its spring vent. It forms a small, clear river called the Rock Springs Run. For 8 miles, the Rock Springs Run slow flows until it merges with another spring and forms the Wekiva River.
Tubing In Kelly Park On The Rock Springs Run
The main attraction here is the natural Florida spring and spring run - it is famous for tubing. Rock Springs is something of Orlando's natural lazy river (don't expect many cascades - this is famously flat Florida, after all). Tubing on the river is relaxing; see some of Florida's most stunning vegetation and forests as one leisurely drifts by.
Float from top to bottom and if one is feeling it, repeat. The water temperature is a steady 68 degrees year-round.
- Temperature: 68 Degrees Year Round
- Tubes: Available For Rent Outside The Park
Keep an eye or two open for wildlife - there are alligators, deer, and possibly black bears around here. Alligators usually leave people alone and very rarely ever attack people. Alligators live in most larger bodies of water in Florida, and there are thought to be 1.3 million or even as much as 2 million of them there. One woman was attacked by an alligator on the Wekiva River in 2015,
The tubes are available for rent just outside of Kelly Park - the concessionaire within the park doesn't rent them out. Alternatively, just bring one's own tube (after all, buying one isn't all that much more expensive than renting one). One regulation is that the floatation joys can not be over five feet in length or width.
Other activities to enjoy on the Rock Springs Run include kayaking, canoeing, and paddle boarding from Kelly Park's Camp Joy.
Note that the waterfront closes one hour before the park itself closes. Swimming can also be closed due to inclement weather.
Planning Your Visit To Kelly Park
Kelly Park is open year-round and is a great place to visit at any time of the year. Other than service animals, no pets are permitted in Kelly Park - so one will need to leave a pouch behind.
The park has picnic facilities but does not have much by way of nature trails, although there are boardwalks. The main draws are the Rock Springs Run and enjoying a day out of the city with a picnic. Facilities include a playground, a basketball court, restrooms, a drinking fountain, pavilions, and grills.
- Summer Hours: 8.00 am to 8.00 pm
- Winter Hours: 8.00 am to 6.00 pm
- Note: The Waterfront and Nature Trails Close One Hour Before Park Closing
- Address: 400 E Kelly Park RD, Apopka, FL
- Admission Fee: $5 Per Vehicle
Another option is to camp in the park. There are tent and RV camping available, and to reserve a spot, visit Camping & Environmental Education and click "Online Camping Reservations."
To have a memorable Orlando experience, spare a day or two to explore Florida outdoors, away from the big city. Fortunately, one doesn't need to go far to be immersed in some of Florida's famous swamps and forests.