On Wednesday, we drove about 55 miles north to the Weeki Wachee River State Park.
Weeki Wachee Springs is one of the oldest tourist attractions in Florida. It’s a water park with a swimming area and water slides. They also have mermaid shows. It was one of the first Florida theme parks, and was here even before Disney. After Disney World came to Florida, they have struggled to stay afloat. There were some developers drooling over the property, but the locals fought them and a few years ago it was finally bought by the State of Florida. Thank goodness…it’s too nice of a place to be in the hands of private developers.
They have a nice kayak and canoe launch. You can rent kayaks, and they will even pick you up several miles down stream and bring you back to your car.
It you have your own kayak, it cost $15 for the livery service. I’m not sure what the cost of renting their kayaks are.
We paid $5.00 each just to launch. We chose not to use the livery service.
You are paddling down stream with a 5 mph current, so it’s an easy paddle downstream. Not so easy coming back up though.
Most people use their livery service, but we really don’t like the area down on the bottom part of the river. The upper part of the river is mostly all natural with just one building along the river. When you get further down river, there are tons of cabins and houses….people and boats. In the summer there are tons of people swimming and swinging from the ropes over the river. There are boats along every beachy area and way too many people. On the upper portion of the river it is peaceful and calm. Much nicer.
We chose to just putz around on the upper portion of the river and paddle back upstream to get our vehicle.
The theme park is separate from the kayaking area. You don’t have to pay admission to the theme park to kayak the river. The park offers a free (with price of admission) river boat tour. You can get into the park for free with a Florida State Park annual pass, or it’s $13.95 to enter. They have mermaid shows, riverboat tours, a swimming area and a waterpark (not open now)
After our kayak trip, we decided to walk around the park…since it was free with our state parks pass. In all the years we have lived in this area, we had never been to the park.
It was a wonderful place in it’s day, but after Disney came to Florida, it really just couldn’t compete. It was a nice way to spend an hour or so after our paddle though. We missed the mermaid show.
Friendly Peacocks came to see us.
Look at his pretty “hat.”
The river is fed by the springs at Weeki Wachee. The water is 74 degrees, and crystal clear.
Okay…back to the purpose of our trip…the river!
Here is Al paddling….notice the open bag of potato chips in his lap? Those were supposed to be for our lunch later during the day!
We hadn’t gotten too far when we noticed something very unusual.
No, not a deer….but a swimming deer.
There was a family of deer that were determined to swim across the river.
It was the coolest thing! The first one crossed, then spotted us and the other ones appeared to be afraid to cross with us watching.
They ended up walking down stream a little and crossing behind us. I had to turn around in the boat and become a contortionist to get the shots. I wasn’t going to miss a photo of a swimming deer though!
We saw a pair of nesting Great Blue Heron’s.
One would search for just the right twig and he would bring it to the female (I assumed it was the female). She would then take the twig and arrange it just right in the nest. I had to laugh. Women never are happy with how the man makes the bed!
We paddled downstream pretty quickly with the strong current. The water was clear and the scenery was beautiful every where we went.
The color changed depending on what was on the bottom.
It was so clear that you could see all the fish swimming along. There were a lot of mullet and Sheepshead.
Al heard what he thought was an eagle, so he looked around to see if he could find an eagle nest. He pointed a large nest out to me and we were pretty sure it was an eagle nest. I took a quick picture of the nest by zooming way in with the camera.
I didn’t even see the eagle when we were on the water. It wasn’t until I looked closer at the picture after we got back to shore that I saw the little white head sticking up! Can you see the Bald Eagle?
Here it is zoomed a bit closer.
Okay…this was shaping up to be a very good day!
Had I known their was a bird in that nest, I would have gotten more shots.
We saw a raccoon washing his food in the river.
Beautiful scenery around every bend.
Al nearly had a collision with this little Blue Heron. Evidently he came flying up right towards Al and didn’t see him until the last minute. Wish I could have gotten that on film.
This is a Limpkin. We saw him when we took the boat ride at the park.
It was one of those perfect days. Beautiful weather, beautiful water, and lots of interesting wildlife.
We are enjoying the unusually warm Florida winter.