Kelly Park, located in Orange County, Apopka, Florida, is one of the Orlando area’s (maybe not-so) hidden treasures.  Late last year, I kayaked Rock Springs Run from Wekiva River State Park, but not all the way to the beggining of the river at the actual Rock Springs (located within Kelly Park).  Crystal clear, 68 degree year round water was wonderful to swim in during the summer heat.

Rock springs gushes at a rapid speed out of a cleft in a rock outcropping (see photo below), creating a natural ‘lazy river’, which takes 20-30 minutes to float down on an inner-tube.  The rock formations that continue, especially at the beginning, are quite striking and beautiful compared to scenery I’m used to seeing in the greater Orlando area.

 

Rock Springs Outcropping at Kelly Park in Orange County, Florida. Horseman SW-612, 35mm Rodenstock Apo-Grandagon. F11, 4s, ISO 100. Kodak TMAX100, TMAX Developer. Schneider #3C Center ND. Photo by Richard Auger.

 

The moving stream begins to slow down into a snaking meander.  Below, large rocks create a small obstacle course in the beginning of the 3/4 mile stretch to the end.

 

Rock Springs meander at Kelly Park in Orange County, Florida. Horseman SW-612, 35mm Rodenstock Apo-Grandagon. f11, 4s, iso100. Kodak TMAX100, TMAX Dev. Schneider #3C Center ND. Photo by Richard Auger.

 

Eventually, the stream arrives at the main swimming hole.  Within Kelly Park’s access, the river finishes at a series of boardwalks exits.  The ‘lazy river’ swimming area ends at a bridge that connects the trails.  The stream can be seen continuing on from the small bridge at the end, with a large opening between the trees.

 

Rock Springs Landing at Kelly Park in Orange County, Florida. Horseman SW-612, 35mm Rodenstock Apo-Grandagon. f11, 2s, iso100. Kodak TMAX100, TMAX Dev. Schneider #3C Center ND. Photo by Richard Auger.

 

Kelly Park:  No Respect

My trip to Kelly Park had mixed feelings.  The clean and clear water, unique rock formations, and lush green foliage were a great experience, but the park was overcrowded, and I needed to wait at least 10 minutes for a mob of people to clear out to take each shot (on a weekday, no less).  Concrete seawalls encase the swimming holes so that people don’t get there feet dirty, just like at Wekiva Springs.  Concrete walls are one of my biggest pet peeves about Orlando swimming holes.  There is nothing more sacrilegious you can do to a natural wonder (besides dumping and bouldozing).

Further, paved sidewalks followed in parallel to the river for easy entrance/exit, and dozens of acres of land were plowed over for building of outdoor pavilions.  It all just seemed unnecessarily intrusive on such a pristine and special river.  Do people really need all this construction to enjoy nature?

Final Photographs

Scroll below to see some additional photos of Kelly Park.

 

Boardwalk toward the end of Rock Springs. Mamiya 7ii, 43mm f/4.5. Ilford SFX200, Ilford DDX. B+W Infrared 092. Photo by Richard Auger.

 

A meander after the outcropping. One of many bridges can be seen in the back. Mamiya 7ii, 43mm f/4.5. Ilford PanF 50, Ilford DDX. Hoya X1 HMC green filter. Photo by Richard Auger.

 

Water flows over large rocks at Rock Springs, Kelly Park, Orange County, Florida. One of many bridges can be seen in the back. Mamiya 7ii, 43mm f/4.5. Ilford PanF 50, Ilford DDX. Hoya X1 HMC green filter. Photo by Richard Auger.

 

 

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