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Silver Springs State Park near Ocala opens


Published:   |   Updated: October 1, 2013 at 12:25 PM

Visitors will find a mixture of old and new at Silver Springs State Park, which opened Tuesday near Ocala.

The popular glass-bottomed boats that were a mainstay of the Silver Springs attraction will likely be a popular feature for park visitors.

The Ocala Star-Banner reports the boats will run three times a day, piloted by the same veteran captains who’ve ferried visitors up and down the Silver River for years.

“I’m excited to introduce Silver Springs State Park to the people and visitors of Florida,” said Donald Forgione, director of the Florida Park Service. “Silver Springs is special and represents ‘old Florida.’ I look forward to protecting it and helping people enjoy and appreciate all that it offers.

State and local officials have spent millions of dollars on anti-pollution projects to preserve the springs, curtailing the flow of nitrates that have robbed the water of clarity. State officials say efforts to help Silver Springs will receive $20 million of the $37 million in springs-restoration Gov. Rick Scott announced in September.

The park will be open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to sunset. The cost is $5 for a single occupant vehicle and $8 per vehicle with up to eight people.

Admission is good at Silver River portions of the park.

In fact, visitors will have access to the Silver River for hiking, horseback riding and off-road bicycling. Cactus Jack’s Trail Rides will offer horses and guided tours.

Additional programs will be offered in the near future, including a concert schedule. And the Wild Waters Water Park is expected to open in the spring.

The main entrance to Silver Springs State Park is east of Ocala, one mile south of State Road 40 on State Road 35.

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