Orlando is the home to multiple theme parks and attractions that draw people in from all over the world. However, there are plenty of other things to do in central Florida that don’t require standing in long lines or pushing through crowds. Consider taking a short drive out of town and enjoying one of the many natural springs scattered across the state. One of my favorites and closest springs can be accessed by kayaking from King’s Landing along Rock Springs Run.
Location of King’s Landing
King’s Landing is located in Apopka just off the Kelly Park Road exit of 429. Heading east off the toll road for a few miles will land you at an intersection with tube rentals (more on that later). Turn down Kelly Park Road and you’ll eventually pass Kelly Park on your right. At the end of the road will be King’s Landing. Use this address to help you navigate to the entrance.
King’s Landing versus Rock Springs Run versus Wekiva River
It’s important to know the difference between all of these locations because they are easily confused. King’s Landing is a place to rent or launch kayaks, canoes and paddle boards that is about 2 miles from the mouth of Rock Spring. Kelly Park is where you can go to enjoy swimming and tubing closer to the mouth of Rock Spring. For both locations, you will be floating along what is called Rock Springs Run which eventually meets up with the Wekiwa Springs run. Both of these springs then make up the Wekiwa River.
Visiting the Wekiva River
Honestly, there is no wrong time to kayak from King’s Landing. Summer will obviously be more crowded with both Florida locals and tourists looking for a great way to cool off. Winter in central Florida can be cooler, but you’ll have the water mostly to yourself. I’d say the only thing to be conscious of is that in the summer, thunderstorms typically roll through in the afternoon. Get out on the water early and be prepared to hustle if the weather catches you off guard.
Arriving at King’s Landing
Arriving at the gate of King’s Landing you can park in their driveway to unload your personal vessel or any other gear you have. Once unloaded, you will need to park outside the gates along the road. King’s Landing is open 7 days a week from 8 am to 5 pm. Check in at the office and make sure to grab a free beer from the cooler!
Routes to take from King’s Landing
A skinny canal from the launch leads out to Rock Springs Run. Turning to the left will lead you down Rock Springs Run towards Wekiva Island. This route is with the current and is approximately 8.5 miles. This part of the run is beautiful and considered wild Florida. The water is still clear, but more of a brownish color because of the tannins. Keep your eyes peeled for a plethora of native wildlife like alligators, deer, and birds of prey. This journey will take you about 4.5 hours to reach Wekiva Island and a good portion of it is not shaded so plan accordingly!
Going back to when you exit the canal, I recommend turning RIGHT regardless of if you intend to kayak from King’s Landing to Wekiva Island. If you paddle to the right you will be against the current, though not terribly difficult to handle. It’s about 2 miles to the “bridge” which usually takes me about 1 hour. This portion of Rock Springs Run is called the Emerald Cut which is ABSOLUTELY STUNNING and SHOULDN’T BE MISSED! The water is shallow in some parts so it’s safe to pull over and cool off.
Kayaking from King’s Landing
*King’s Landing only accepts CASH and no reservations are needed so arrive early*
King’s Landing rents both kayaks and canoes as well as offer private tours. Boats can be rented for the entire run from King’s Landing to Wekiva Island. Prices start at $50 for a single kayak or double canoe and $60 for a double kayak. This price includes the kayak’s equipment as well as the return shuttle back to King’s Landing. This is a point to point paddle starting at King’s Landing and ending at Wekiva Island. You must be on the water by 11:00 am in order to make it to the pick-up point by 4:00 pm. In the summer, another pick-up time is added at 2:30 pm. I would suggest starting as early as possible. If you begin at 11:00 am you will not have enough time to do the Emerald Cut and make it to Wekiva Island in time.
Once you arrive at Wekiva Island, paddle past the beach area and make the first right. You’ll paddle just a bit longer and see a dock where you can pull your boats out of the water. This is the spot where you will catch the shuttle back to King’s Landing.
Exploring just the Emerald Cut.
Another choice is to simply rent a kayak or canoe for a few hours and spend the entire time exploring the Emerald Cut. For this option, canoes are $30, single kayaks are $40 and doubles are $50 for the entire day.
Launching your personal kayak or paddle board.
If you’d like to launch your own vessel at King’s Landing, it’s $10. If you’d like to utilize their return shuttle for the point to point paddle it’ll cost $20. The shuttle service will also transport personal kayaks and boards on their trailer. This is a huge perk if you plan to paddle alone! Drive time from Wekiva Island back to King’s Landing is about 20 minutes.
Rock Springs Run activities
Aside from kayaking from King’s Landing, you can also float along Rock Springs Run in an inner tube. As I mentioned before, you can rent tubes just before the entrance to Kelly Park at Rock Springs Bar and Grill. The tubes are already inflated and cost $7 to rent for the day. Arrive early to grab a tube and a place to park. Kelly Park typically reaches capacity on weekends and holidays.
It is possible to bring your own tube as long as it is less than 5 feet in length. The price to get into Kelly Park is $3 per vehicle for 1-2 passengers or $5 per vehicle for 3-8 passengers. *I have not tubed from Kelly Park yet so none of my photos are from that portion of the run.*
Points of interest near King’s Landing
I feel like it is worth mentioning again: make sure to start early enough and take that RIGHT out of the canal to explore the Emerald Cut. Most of my photos are from this area because it is so gorgeous.
Hungry after your paddle?
Another highlight is grabbing some food and drinks at Wekiva Island. Whether you paddle the entire 8.5 miles kayaking from King’s Landing or only paddle around the Emerald Cut make sure to stop by! Wekiva Island is a perfect mix between Florida locals and tourists. There