Orlando Florida’s Wekiwa Springs State Park

Family Paddling and Camping Close to Disney World, Universal Studios

Just North of Disney World and Universal Studios, Wekiwa Springs State Park offers low-budget paddling and camping for the whole family.

Less than 45 minutes North of the Orlando, Florida theme parks, Wekiwa Springs State Park features family-friendly horseback riding, biking, hiking, paddling, and camping. More than 13 miles of forest trail, guided tours, and family camping make Wekiwa Springs an ideal natural getaway from Orlando and the Disney theme park scene.

Orlando Camping and Wekiwa Spring-fed Swimming

Family camping lovers who venture away from the Orlando theme parks can enjoy covered picnic areas, a large children’s playground, and 13 miles of carefully maintained tropical forest trails for biking, hiking, and horseback riding. The park is a hidden, protected, and natural wilderness full of Central Florida wildlife and plants. But the best feature of the park is Wekiwa (often spelled, “Wekiva”) Springs itself. The cool, constant 72-degree temperature of Wekiwa Springs is perfect for a mid-summer dip in the protected swimming hole, or scuba diving under the surface to explore the prehistoric underwater caves of the Springs.

Family camping requires reservations well in advance for the comfortably cool, dry high season that begins in September and lasts throughout the campfire-friendly months of January and February. These are also the months with the fewest mosquitoes, so the best camping sites are often booked months in advance. Most family campers are from the local Central Florida area, and they come to this beautiful state park with their mountain bikes, hiking boots, kayaks, and tents to enjoy a hidden treasure that is so close to the theme park destinations.

Easy Paddling on the Wekiwa River

Paddlers can rent a canoe ($15 for two hours) or kayak ($15 single, $20 double for two hours) from the park’s concessionaire, and paddle the eight different paddling trails of Wekiwa that include both the Wekiva River and the adjacent Rock Springs Run.

Paddling times range from a full day of eight hours to shorter paddling trips that last only two hours. The water trails also take paddlers to the two primitive camping sites (without electricity, toilets, or freshwater), which can be accessed only by paddling a canoe or kayak and must be reserved well in advance.

The paddling experience is one of the most pristine in all of Central Florida. Paddlers move slowly beneath the cool, dense canopy of native wild oaks, and float on winding, clear waters of the Wekiva River, whose depths range from inches during the winter dry season, to almost 13 feet in some deeper pools. Along the wild, tropical shores, deer, box turtles, alligators, blue heron, bald eagles, cranes, and other wildlife are still plentiful in this hidden tropical oasis so close to Orlando.

Wekiwa Springs State Park Access

Wekiwa Springs State Park is managed by the Florida State Park Service. The cost to access the park is $2-6 per car for the day, and camping sites are available for $24 per night ($4 for primitive campsites). For more information, check out the Wekiwa Springs website, and make sure to reserve paddling and horseback riding adventures well in advance.

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