Orlando, FL: Enjoy Nature’s Theme Park at the Beautiful Natural Springs at Kings Landing

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If you’re heading to Disney and all the sights of Central Florida for your family trip, don’t miss the opportunity to trade out the crowds for the natural beauty of the Rock Springs Run at Kings Landing just outside the Magic Kingdom. 

I love the outdoors and enjoying all that nature has in store for us because it’s almost always better than I could have imagined. And with hot days and crowds around Orlando, escaping to Kings Landing is an awesome idea if you’re in the area. I was completely blown away by these gorgeous springs.

You’ll feel like you’re in another world here – nature’s very own theme park – and never want to leave. 

Rock Springs Run FL
Paddleboarding at the springs

About Kings Landing and Rock Springs Run 

Kings Landing is in Apopka, Florida, a suburb of Orlando and only about 40 minutes from Disney World. It feels a lot further away. Kings Landing is a privately owned entrance point into Rock Springs, where you can access the incredible Emerald Cut or the Wekiva River. 

This area of water is a designated National Wild and Scenic River and once you’re out there, it’s easy to see why. The calm, crystal clear water under the shade of huge jungle-like trees is stunning and peaceful. 

This is the Florida a lot of people overlook. I grew up going to Florida often to visit my family that lived there and somehow we never took in these natural springs. I only discovered them as an adult and was swept away by their beauty. The natural springs are just amazing because their crystal clear water is filtered through limestone caves and is a constant 70 or so degrees year round.

Manatees congregate at many of these springs during the cooler months. One we visited, Blue Spring State Park, allows swimming during the summer when the manatees are gone. Another one, Ichetucknee Springs and Blue Hole Spring, is an easy day trip from St. Augustine and even Orlando. 

Most of the Florida springs allow swimming but you need to be watchful because alligators are common. More on that in a bit. 

At Kings Landing, they allow you to rent clear canoes, paddleboards, and kayaks. You can also bring your own and drop in at their site. They also offer camping on their property or you can paddle to a boat-in campsite that you have to reserve through Wekiwa State Park. Group camping is also available next to Kings Landing at Kelly Park’s Camp Joy.

Stay Near Kings Landing

Paddle Trips at Kings Landing, FL 

There are a few options for paddling from Kings Landing, from an hour or two to an all day adventure. 

We did the paddling trip out to Emerald Cut, which is just a stunningly beautiful paddle through the clear water upstream for a mile. The water isn’t deep in most spots and the bottom is sandy and soft. There are spots to stop and swim and of course, take photos. There is a really cool tree that you can climb and jump from into a small swimming hole. The river is fairly narrow so you have to pay attention to the other paddlers and watch for wildlife. 

Paddling at Kings Landing FL
Paddleboarding at the springs

You’ll go upstream the way out and then downstream on the way back. My daughters and I are fairly experienced paddlers as we have our own paddleboards and go out often during the summer but we had never paddled on a river, which was a little harder due to the current. It took us less than half the time downstream as it did to go upstream. I wish we would have stayed and swam a little more though because the trip back was too fast. 

We were told to watch for wildlife and not to approach any animals. We only saw a really cool bird up close but kept our distance. We were just about to the end of the run when a family coming downstream told us a gator was just ahead. We made a prudent decision and turned back. Typically, the staff told us, the gators hang out more on the darker water side, but they absolutely can show up on Rock Springs. 

That trip took us a little over two hours. 

If you go the other way on the river, you can go as far as 8.5 miles downstream and be picked up and taken back to your car by the Kings Landing shuttle. You have a much higher chance of seeing wildlife there, which we really didn’t want to see. To do the shuttle run, Kings Landing asks that paddlers be experienced since it is about a 4.5 hour trip. 

Making Your Paddling Reservation 

You don’t need any paddling experience to do the run we did. Paddling a kayak or canoe isn’t hard and you’ll get instruction from the staff. They also offer guided tours if you want to be sure you’re in good hands. 

If you choose to rent a vessel, you’ll have four hours total, which is enough time to paddle both the river (not the 8.5 mile trip) and Emerald Cut. Rentals are priced from $49 up to $69. The canoe can fit three people max. You can also select a kayak, double kayak or paddleboard.

If you have your own kayak or paddleboard, the cost is $10/adult and $5/kids. No children ages 2 and under are permitted. 

Kings Landing FL
Paddleboarding at the springs

Know Before You Go 

Here are a few tips on your trip to Kings Landing:

  • No pets allowed. 
  • No children under 2 years old allowed. 
  • Pay attention to your surroundings. This isn’t a controlled environment and wildlife exist. 
  • If you’re bringing your own paddleboard or kayak, you must have a life vest and whistle. If you don’t have one, you can rent one. 
  • The crystal clear emerald water will often turn a tea-colored brown after heavy rains due to the tannins in the fallen leaves. We went in April and the water was just like you see in photos. 
  • You must make a reservation. Weekdays are less busy than weekends but reservations are required at any time. 
  • Bring sunscreen, water, and bug spray. 
  • All Leave No Trace principles must be followed. 
  • No glass, styrofoam, or alcohol is permitted. 
Rock Springs Run kings Landing
Just hanging out at the springs

Ready to Paddle?

If you’re ready to get away to a jungle oasis and see the wild part of Florida, make your reservation at King’s Landing online

Kings Landing is open daily 8 am – 5 pm. All boats must be back to the dock by 4:30 pm. 

Looking for other adventures in Florida? Check out our Florida Travel Guide.

Kings Landing
5722 Baptist Camp Road, Apopka, FL 32712
King’s Landing Website | King’s Landing Facebook

About the Author
Kristina Hernandez is a mom of two girls, freelance writer and photographer. Originally from New Jersey, she is in love with the Upstate and could not imagine raising her kids anywhere else. She enjoys hiking to waterfalls, kayaking, camping, cooking, and exploring all that Greenville has to offer. And she really loves baby goats. Follow her on Instagram at @scadventurer.

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