We missed out on tubing in Rainbow Springs due to the summer season being over so we decided to hit up Kelly Park Rock Springs Tubing instead.
Long story short, it did not disappoint.
Note: If you love tubing after this, you might like to check out Blue Springs State Park Tubing which is nearby.
Kelly Park Rock Springs Florida Tubing
Rock Springs Kelly Park Tubing down Florida’s lazy river was one of the coolest activities we did in Florida.
It was sooo relaxing and super fun! It is helpful that Kelly Park, otherwise known as Rock Springs is epically beautiful.
Here’s a great kayak tour if you want to venture out beyond the tube run.
Where is Kelly Park in Florida?
Kelly Park is one of the most popular springs in Florida due to its location in Northwest Orange County.
Kelly Park is located just 40 minutes outside of Orlando. It is one of the most popular weekend activities among Orlando locals. It is also a popular spring to visit from Tampa being around 1.5 hours away.
The address for your GPS is 400 East Kelly Park Rd Apopka Florida 32712.
About Kelly Park Rock Springs
Kelly Park was once owned by a doctor named Howard Kelly. In 1927 he donated the park to the State for public use and wildlife preservation.
Inside Kelly Park you will find the absolutely picturesque Rock Springs Florida – a spring which runs nine miles to the Wekiva River.
The spring is perfect for tubing in Florida as the spring flows an average of 26,000 gallons per minute.
That sounds ridiculously quick but once you are on the tube it is a very leisurely 30 minute tube right from start to finish.
Aside from tubing in Rock Springs, Kelly Springs is a popular spot to go hiking, picnicking and camping.
Rock Springs Kelly Park Hours
Kelly Park has different hours of operation depending on the season.
In summer, the park is open from 8.00am – 8.00pm in the evening.
In winter, the park is open from 8.00am – 6.00pm in the evening.
It is highly advisable to arrive before 9am in the morning if you wish to actually visit the park.
We arrived at 8am and the park was already half full. Once the park reaches capacity, rangers close the doors and do not let additional cars in.
Only 280 cars are allowed in each morning. If the park is not at capacity, an additional 50 cars are permitted entry after 1.00pm.
We left the park at around 3pm and saw signs stating that the park was full and the gates were closed for the day.
If you wake up late, you can call (407) 253-1902 to see if the park is full. Note: you cannot reserve entry in advance.
*** Access to Rock Springs and tubing closes one hour before park closes for the evening.
How much does it cost to enter?
One thing that stunned us is how affordable Kelly Rock Springs is to visit.
For our car of 2 people it only cost $3 total! For 5-8 passenger vehicles it costs $5.
Due to the affordability, you will see many families making the most of the low cost activity.
Kelly Park Tubing
Probably the biggest draw card to Kelly Park is the awesome tube run.
Unlike other parks like Rainbow State Park, you cannot rent tubes from inside the State Park.
Do NOT enter Kelly Park without your tube. There are signs stating that if the park is full if you exit the park you cannot re-enter.
For tube hire, you have 2 choices.
There is a tube rental office around 3 minutes down the road which hires tubes for $7 for the day or you can bring your own tube with you. Many people were using this one.
As we wanted to use the tubes again at another State Park we opted to bring our own tube. In summer, tubes are available for purchase from the closet Walmart.
In low season (October onwards) publix was the only place we could find nearby that sold tubes.
You have to be careful as you cannot bring any tube with you. Tubes need to comply with a height limit of 5 ft.
There is no air pump in the State Park. We stopped at a service station before entering to fill up our tubes.
The Tube Run
The Kelly Park tube run is one of the shorter tube runs in Florida being 3/4 of a mile in length.
We timed the tube run and it took between 20-30 minutes to complete from start to finish just by floating along.
The tube run is slow and peaceful. We saw parents even taking babies on the tube run so it is really suitable for all age groups.
You can touch the bottom at most points along the run.
While, it does get a little slow in the middle of the springs, the current never completely stops and it is possible to float the entire journey from start to finish.
We completed the tube run 4 times before we got sick of it.
We liked that it was a narrow tube run that was well shaded from the hot Florida heat and very picturesque.
Kelly Park Picnic
Another popular activity in Kelly Park is picnicking.
When we arrived at 8am in the morning, people had already claimed their picnic tables for the day and were setting up.
There are many shaded picnic tables in Kelly Park complete with BBQs & water.
Most people brought with them a full BBQ lunch. If you don’t want to bring food with you there is a canteen where you can buy food.
Kelly Park Sports
Inside the park, there is ample opportunity to enjoy ball sports.
Due to the large green, grassy area, it is possible to have a game of soccer on the grass. Alternatively, there is a volleyball court in the park that was getting good use.
If you want to enjoy sports in Kelly park remember to BYO your own ball.
Kelly Park Kayaking
Directly inside Kelly Park it is not possible to kayak as it would get in the road of the people tubing.
You can however rent a kayak just outside the park at Kings Landing where you can complete a leisurely river run to Kelly Park (in an area blocked off from the tubers)
The kayak trip is 8.5 miles long and takes 4.5 hours to complete at a leisurely pace. Due to the length of the trip, you have to be on the water no later than 11am.
The cost is $50 for a 2 or 3 seater canoe, $50 for a one person kayak or $60 for a 2 person kayak.
It is possible to launch your own kayak, canoe or stand up paddle board for $10 for a launch or $20 for a launch and transfer service.
They also offer a longer fishing trip.
Kelly Park Snorkeling
Another activity that attracts people to Kelly Park is the snorkeling.
Not only will you have the opportunity to see many fish and possibly a turtle in Kelly Park, due to hurricanes in the area, you can find other cool things in Kelly Springs including shark teeth.
We noticed many kids in the park loving seeing what they could find. You would occasionally hear them pop up from the water exclaiming “I found a X”.
Usually, it wasn’t anything special. One kid found a part of a goggle. One lucky kid found a shark tooth.
Are there alligators in Kelly Park?
Technically, there are alligators in the park. I overheard a local say that she sees one regularly.
We didn’t see an alligator and I doubt you would if the park is at capacity as funnily enough they are just as scared of us as we are of them!
If you are interested in seeing an alligator in Florida, I would highly recommend a visit to Everglades National Park. The Anhinga Trail or Shark Valley Trail if you like to bike is best for alligator spotting.
Are there manatees in Kelly Park?
There are no manatees in the Kelly Park tubing area at least. There may be manatees seen in the kayak run from Kings Landing but I am not sure about this.
If you want to see manatees in Florida the best place to see them in our opinion is crystal river. For all places you can see manatees in Florida see our Florida manatee guide.
Kelly Park Wildlife
Other than alligators it is possible to spot other cool animals in the State Park including bobcats and black bears (although their sightings are very rare).
We saw some large fish as we completed our tube run which was cool. The water is crystal clear so it is easy to spot any wildlife that is lurking beneath.
Are dogs allowed at Kelly Park?
I don’t know the official answer to this but I was surprised to see a cute little poodle floating around the main springs on his own little tube.
While dogs *may* be allowed in the State Park, they are definitely not allowed in the campgrounds which leads me to believe that this dog was a secret stowaway.
UPDATE: I have read subsequently that dogs are not allowed in the State Park. Definitely a stowaway.
Kelly Park Camping
Camping in Kelly Park is VERY popular.
Camp sites in the State Park include a grill, water, electricity and a picnic table.
If you wish to camp, we recommend you book in advance, especially if it is a weekend. We arrived on a Friday afternoon and the ranger told us that camping was sold out all weekend already.
Camping in Kelly Park is very affordable. It costs $18 for Orange County Residents or $23 for visitors for a single camp site. A family site will cost $36 for Orange County Residents or $46 for visitors.
A single site sleeps up to 6 people with 2 sleeping units (eg 2 tents). A family site sleeps up to 12 people with 4 sleeping units. There is also a possibility to rent cabins.
There are discounted rates available for seniors (55+).
Kelly Park Tips
If you decide to visit Kelly Park here are our best tips:
- Don’t bother bringing alcohol with you as it is not allowed in the park. The only springs we are aware that alcohol is allowed is Ginnie Springs.
- If you plan on going tubing, bring a tube with you prior to entering the park. There are no tubes for rent inside Kelly Park.
- Arrive early if you want to ensure entry to Rock Springs. We arrived at 8am and already 100 cars were lined up down the road. Only 280 cars are allowed in Kelly Park in one day.
- You are NOT allowed re-entry to the park so bring with you anything you would like to eat and drink during the day. A BBQ picnic lunch was a popular option.
- Cover your picnic lunch while you take a dip. If you fail to do so, hungry squirrels and vultures will take advantage of your generosity.
- Fill your tube up PRIOR to entering Kelly Park. There is no air inside the park to fill your tubes with once you enter.
What to bring with you?
Here is what we would recommend bringing with you for a day out in Kelly Park:
- a cute beach towel
- Oversized beach blanket
- a full face snorkel & flippers
- a Instagram worthy picnic basket
- Tongs for BBQing
- a waterproof dry bag
- a tube. Lots of people had this one.
- a ball (for volleyball)
- a Instagram worthy boho picnic rug
- beach chairs
- air compressor for tubes.
- lots of goodies to munch on during the day!
We would recommend buying a tube before you arrive in the area. We were lucky enough to pick up a tube in publix nearby but the staff were shocked tubes were still in store in October.
Kelly Park Summary
That’s all on Kelly Park from us folks.
We hope you absolutely love Kelly Park as much as we did. It truly is one of the best things to do on a Florida vacation or as a weekender.