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O’Leno State Park and River Rise Preserve

May 15, 2020 by Corey A Edwards

O'Leno State Park River Sink

The Santa Fe River Sink at O’Leno State Park

Looking to get out, away from the crowds, and soak up some of Florida’s natural beauty? O’Leno State Park and the nearby River Rise Preserve offer hiking, biking, paddling, fishing, sinkholes, and even an underground river!

O’Leno State Park has the distinction of being one of Florida’s first state parks, developed in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The park is located along the banks of the Santa Fe River, about 45 minutes west of our north Florida inn, Hampton Lake Bed and Breakfast.

Interestingly, the Santa Fe River disappears underground into the Bellamy Cave system as it passes through the park. The river flows through limestone passages, some 140 feet below ground, before reemerging three miles away in River Rise Preserve State Park.

The River Sink, where the Santa Fe disappears below ground, is located about a half mile downstream from O’Leno State Park’s main parking area. When river levels are low, the sink resembles a simple pond. When water levels are high, however, the sink swirls down and around in a counter clockwise direction.

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Silver Springs State Park – Glass Bottom Boat Tours

April 11, 2020 by Corey A Edwards

Alligator basking at Silver Springs State ParkSilver Springs State Park is well known for its natural springs, copious wildlife, glass-bottomed boats, and more. This popular and famous outdoor destination has been attracting visitors since the 1820’s and is only an hour’s drive of our North Florida inn, Hampton Lake Bed and Breakfast.

Silver Springs State Park, previously Silver River State Park, opened to the public in 1987 but has been a tourist attraction, some say Florida’s first, since the 1800’s. Even the park’s most famous feature – glass bottomed boat tours – is over 100 years old, having first been offered in 1870! In fact, Silver Springs is the birthplace of glass bottomed boats.

Silver Springs State Park is located on the Silver River, just west of Ocala National Forest. The 4,000-acre park includes the entire 5-mile Silver River and the sandhill forest that surrounds it.

The park now promotes its vast collection of natural habitats and eco-tourism activities showcasing Silver Springs. Springsfest, one of its biggest annual events, celebrates the efforts to protect and restore all Florida springs and waterways.

Lots of things have changed since those early days but one thing remains a constant: Silver Springs’ popularity.

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