After falling in love with Florida springs when we visited Rainbow Springs State Park and swam with manatees in the Crystal River, we decided to check out Kelly Park Rock Springs.
We missed out on tubing in Rainbow Springs because the summer season had ended, so we went to Kelly Park Rock Springs Tubing instead.
To cut a long tale short, it did not let me down.
Note: If you enjoy tubing after this, you should go to Blue Springs State Park Tubing, which is close.
Rock Springs Kelly Park Tubing
Kelly Park in Rock Springs One of the nicest things we did in Florida was tubing down the lazy river.
It was both calming and enjoyable! It helps that Kelly Park, often known as Rock Springs, is breathtakingly lovely.
Where Is Kelly Park Located In Florida?
Kelly Park, located in Northwest Orange County, is one of Florida’s most popular springs.
Kelly Park is around 40 minutes away from Orlando. It is one of the most popular weekend activities for residents of Orlando. It is also a favorite spring destination for visitors from Tampa, which is around 1.5 hours away.
The GPS address is 400 East Kelly Park Rd, Apopka, FL 32712.
About Kelly Park Rock Springs
Howard Kelly, a doctor, used to own Kelly Park. He gave the park to the state for public use and wildlife preservation in 1927.
Inside Kelly Park, you’ll find the enchanting Rock Springs Florida — a spring that extends nine miles to the Wekiva River.
The spring is ideal for tubing because it flows at a rate of 26,000 gallons per minute on average.
That sounds absurdly fast, but once on the tube, it is a nice 30-minute ride from start to end.
Kelly Springs is a popular site for hiking, picnicking, and camping in addition to tubing in Rock Springs.
Rock Springs Kelly Park Hours (Opening And Closing)
Kelly Park has varying hours of operation depending on the season.
In summer, the park is open from 8.00 am – 8.00 pm in the evening.
In winter, the park is open from 8.00 am Until 6.00 pm in the evening.
It is definitely essential to arrive before 9 am in the morning if you desire to actually tour the park.
We came at 8 am and the park was already half full. Once the park reaches capacity, rangers seal the doors and do not let any automobiles in.
Only 280 automobiles are allowed in each morning. If the park is not at capacity, an additional 50 cars are granted admission after 1.00 pm.
We left the park at around 3 pm and observed signs declaring that the park was full and the gates were closed for the day.
If you wake up late, you can contact (407) 253-1902 to determine if the park is full. Note: you cannot reserve entrance in advance.
Note: Access to Rock Springs and tubing closes one hour before the park closes for the evening.
How Much Does It Cost To Enter In The Park?
One thing that astonished us is how affordable Kelly Rock Springs is to visit.
For our automobile of 2 persons, it only cost $3 total! For 5-8 passenger automobiles it costs $5.
Due to the affordability, you will observe many families making the most of the cheap cost activity.
Kelly Park Tubing
Probably the main drawcard to Kelly Park is the excellent tube run.
Unlike other places like Rainbow State Park, you cannot hire tubes from inside the State Park.
Do NOT enter Kelly Park without your tube. There are signs warning that if the park is full if you left the park you cannot re-enter.
For tube hire, you have 2 possibilities.
There is a tube rental office roughly 3 minutes down the road which hires tubes for $7 for the day or you may bring your own tube with you.
As we intended to use the tubes again at another State Park we elected to bring our own tube. In summer, tubes are accessible for purchase from the closet Walmart.
In low season (October onwards) publix was the only business we could discover close that sold tubes.
You have to be careful as you cannot bring any tube with you. Tubes need to conform with a height restriction of 5 ft.
There is no air pump at the State Park. We stopped at a fuel station before entering to fill up our tubes.
The Tube Run
The Kelly Park tube run is one of the shorter tube courses in Florida being 3/4 of a mile in length.
We timed the tube run and it took about 20-30 minutes to complete from start to finish just by floating along.
The tube run is slow and serene. We observed parents even taking newborns on the tube run so it is really suited for all age groups.
You can touch the bottom at most places along the course.
While it does get a little slow in the center of the springs, the current never totally stops and it is feasible to float the entire route from start to finish.
We did the tube run 4 times before we got bored of it.
We loved that it had a narrow tube run that was well shaded from the blazing Florida heat and really attractive.
Kelly Park Picnic
Another favorite pastime in Kelly Park is picnics.
When we arrived at 8 am in the morning, folks had already claimed their picnic tables for the day and were setting up.
There are several covered picnic tables in Kelly Park complete with BBQs & water.
Most people brought with them a full BBQ lunch. If you don’t want to carry food with you there is a canteen where you may buy food.
Kelly Park Sports
Inside the park, there is abundant opportunity to enjoy ball sports.
Due to the big green, grassy space, it is feasible to conduct a game of soccer on the grass. Alternatively, there is a volleyball court in the park that was getting good usage.
If you wish to enjoy sports in Kelly park remember to BYO your own ball.
Kelly Park Kayaking
Directly inside Kelly Park, it is not possible to kayak as it would get in the route of the person’s tubing.
You can however hire a kayak just outside the park at Kings Landing where you can take a leisurely river run to Kelly Park (in an area cordoned off from the tubers) (in an area blocked off from the tubers)
The kayak excursion is 8.5 miles long and takes 4.5 hours to accomplish at a leisurely pace. Due to the length of the voyage, you have to be on the water no later than 11 am.
The cost is $50 for a 2 or 3 seater canoe, $50 for a one-person kayak, or $60 for a 2 person kayak.
It is possible to launch your own kayak, canoe, or stand-up paddleboard for $10 for a launch or $20 for a launch and transfer service.
They also provide a longer fishing expedition.
Kelly Park Snorkeling
Another activity that attracts visitors to Kelly Park is snorkeling.
Not only will you have the opportunity to witness many fish and possibly a turtle in Kelly Park, due to hurricanes in the area, but you can also find other cool stuff in Kelly Springs such as shark teeth.
We spotted several kids in the park delighting seeing what they could find. You would periodically hear someone rise out from the water exclaiming “I found an X”.
Usually, it wasn’t anything spectacular. One kid found a fragment of a goggle. One lucky kid found a shark tooth.
Kelly Park Camping
Camping in Kelly Park is VERY popular.
Campsites in the State Park include a grill, water, electricity, and a picnic table.
If you intend to camp, we urge you to reserve in advance, especially if it is a weekend. We came on a Friday afternoon and the ranger told us that camping was sold out all weekend already.
Camping in Kelly Park is very inexpensive. It costs $18 for Orange County Residents or $23 for tourists for a single camp spot. A family site will cost $36 for Orange County Residents or $46 for visitors.
A single site sleeps up to 6 people with 2 sleeping items (eg 2 tents) (eg 2 tents). A family site accommodates up to 12 people with 4 sleeping units. There is also an opportunity to rent cabins.
There is discounted pricing available for seniors (55+).
Kelly Park Wildlife
Other than alligators it is possible to spot other amazing species in the State Park including bobcats and black bears (although their sightings are very rare) (although their sightings are very rare).
We saw several enormous fish as we completed our tube run which was cool. The water is incredibly transparent so it is simple to identify any animal that is lurking beneath.
Are There Alligators In Kelly Park?
Technically, there are alligators in the park. I overheard a local mention that she sees one regularly.
We didn’t see an alligator and I doubt you would if the park is at capacity as interestingly enough they are just as terrified of us as we are of them!
If you are interested in seeing an alligator in Florida, I would highly recommend a visit to Everglades National Park. The Anhinga Trail or Shark Valley Trail if you like to bike is great for alligator spotting.
Are There Manatees In Kelly Park?
There are no manatees in the Kelly Park tubing area at least. There may be manatees sighted in the kayak run from Kings Landing but I am not positive about this.
If you want to watch manatees in Florida the finest site to see them in our opinion is crystal river. For all areas, you can see manatees in Florida.
Are Dogs Allowed At Kelly Park?
I don’t know the official answer to this but I was startled to see a cute small poodle floating around the main springs on his own little tube.
While dogs *may* be allowed in the State Park, they are absolutely not allowed in the campgrounds which leads me to suspect that this dog was a sneaky stowaway.
UPDATE: I have read afterward that dogs are not allowed in the State Park. Definitely a stowaway.
Kelly Park Tips
If you decide to visit Kelly Park here are our top tips:
- Don’t bother taking alcohol with you as it is not allowed in the park. The only spring we are aware that alcohol is allowed is Ginnie Springs.
- If you plan on going tubing, bring a tube with you prior to entering the park. There are no tubes for rent inside Kelly Park.
- Arrive early if you want to assure entrance to Rock Springs. We arrived at 8 am and already 100 cars were lined up along the road. Only 280 automobiles are allowed in Kelly Park in one day.
- You are NOT allowed re-entry to the park so bring with you everything you would like to eat and drink during the day. A BBQ picnic lunch was a popular option.
- Cover your picnic food as you take a bath. If you fail to do so, hungry squirrels and vultures will take advantage of your charity.
- Fill your tube up PRIOR to entering Kelly Park. There is no air within the park to fill your tubes with after you arrive.
What You Can Carry With You?
Here is what we would recommend bringing with you for a day out in Kelly Park:
- a lovely beach towel
- Oversized beach blanket
- Full face snorkel & flippers
- An Instagram appealing picnic basket
- Tongs for BBQing
- Waterproof dry bag
- Tube. Lots of individuals had this one.
- A Volleyball (To playing)
- An Instagram worthy boho picnic rug
- Beach chairs
- Air compressor for tubes.
- Loads of treats to nibble on during the day!
We would recommend getting a tube before you come into the area. We were lucky enough to pick up a tube in publix close however the personnel was startled tubes were still in-store in October.
That’s all on Kelly Park tubing from us folks.
We hope you absolutely enjoy Kelly Park as much as we did. It certainly is one of the nicest things to do on a Florida vacation or as a weekender. Share your experience with us through the comment box provided below.