For Fourth of July this year we decided to make a trip to Kelly Park just outside of Orlando. It’s a small county park with only 26 campsites. My dad and I were debating if the family had visited there when we were kids. We seem to remember floating in a spring where we found shark’s teeth … though the memories were very vague.
Non-county residents pay $23 a night for the campsite which we reserved by phone. Within the campground loop there was one main bathroom with three shower stalls and everything was kept pretty clean. There is a camp host if you have issues / concerns after hours. The park doesn’t allow pets and no alcohol (but that’s what Tervis is for, right?).
With over five miles of trails there is lots of opportunity to see wildlife; we saw two deer on our first night. Food needs to be kept inside a vehicle or camper because there are bear at the park.
Frank and I arrived on Thursday the 3rd and set up camp around 2pm at site #19. After having sammichs we headed down to the spring with our floats.
Natural springs in Florida are a constant 68 degrees year round. In the summer heat they feel amazing. Every minute 26,000 gallons of water are pumped out of Rock Springs providing a nice current along the 30 minute run.
On the weekends the park closes to outsiders at 10am because it gets so full and then they reopen around 3pm in the afternoon. They have lifeguards throughout the spring run for safety. There is a concession stand for lunch and loads of picnic tables underneath shady trees. You can rent tubes from a nearby outfitter before you come in to the park or from a van inside the park. We brought our own.
After about five minutes, just as I was getting used to the chilly water, the alarm went off denoting there was electricity in the area. We floated to the next take-out point and had to call it quits. The park cleared out fast as it was towards the end of the day and no one wanted to sit around and wait for the weather to blow over. We walked back to our campsite to settle in for the evening.
I was pleased with how much tree cover there is at all of the sites. Pine and oak trees abound. Frank got the campfire going and I set up shop at the picnic table outside to cook ratatouille over the Coleman propane stove. And of course that’s when it started to drizzle.
Thank goodness we packed the beach umbrella. I don’t know if it was because of the rain but the bugs haven’t been that bad.
My parents came the morning of the 4th. They set up across the street from us at site #20. Mom immediately asked if I’d like a brownie?!?! (My mom pushes brownies like drugs.) After they were unpacked we hit the spring, came back for lunch, and then made a second trip. Second time around Dad brought the GoPro.
Burgers and sides for our 4th of July dinner celebration with a berries and angel food cake dessert.
It drizzled in the afternoon but let up when the sun went down. We had a great campfire, s’mores, and used one of our magical lighting packs to turn the campfire shades of blue, green, and purple while we listened to fireworks in the distance.
The next morning Dad was the pancake-master and I talked him in to making bacon pancakes (a la Pinterest).
We had to head out on Saturday – but not before taking another trip down the spring! The weather was great and the cold water felt divine. Dad let Frank borrow his goggles and Frank quickly got absorbed in finding treasures in the swimming area where there was less current. He’d bring up handfuls of gravel and rocks and sift through them on the ledge where I basked in the sun. After I found the first tooth – shark’s tooth?? – we became engrossed at that point. We think we found bits of fossil along with 4 other small black teeth.
We liked Kelly Park because it wasn’t too bad of a drive from home. Because there were so few campsites the park was quiet and not at all crowded in the camping loop.
Dad made a video with his GoPro:
Things forgotten this trip:
- French press and coffee fixin’s