Tourists have been traveling to Silver Springs to see the crystal clear water since the early 1800’s. One of Florida’s first tourist attractions, the first glass bottom boat tours began in the late 1870’s. During the 1900’s the attraction grew to include a jungle cruise and animal exhibits.
Silver Springs was a popular filming location for Hollywood during the 1900’s. Some of the films shot there include several Tarzan movies with Johnny Weissmuller, the 1954 version of Creature from the Black Lagoon, and Moonraker (a James Bond movie). It was also a location for the TV series Sea Hunt. Some of the sets still exist around the property.
In 1971, Silver Springs was named a National Natural Landmark. Today, Silver Springs State Park is owned and operated by the state of Florida. The state operates the famous glass bottom boats now but there are no more jungle cruises. Visitors can walk beside the springs or sit in one of the rocking chairs to enjoy the view. There are boardwalks and trails as well as a boat launch area with canoe and kayak rentals.
This is one of our favorite Florida state parks and we wanted to spend a few days there to unwind after the excitement of the Daytona 500. We were able to reserve our favorite campsite and I was glad to see it hadn’t change much. There was gopher tortoise hole right next to the campsite just like I remembered and the resident tortoise paid us a visit our first night.
One day we drove over to the main entrance of the park for a ride on one of the famous glass bottom boats. Captain Oscar has been working at Silver Springs since the early 1960’s and had lots of interesting stories about the park.
A look through the glass bottom boat
These statues were featured in a tv show and a movie
After the boat tour we wandered around the path next to the springs before taking a walk on the boardwalk trail.
Boardwalk trail at Silver Spriings
The trunk of this palm tree looks like a corkscrew
An unusual looking palm tree in the Silver River
Another day we rented a kayak for a beautiful paddle on the Silver River.
I felt like I was in one of the old Tarzan movies as I walked along the river trail near the campground.
Back in the 1930s during the day of the Jungle Cruise boat ride, the operator of the ride brought in a group of wild rhesus monkeys to use as part of the attraction. Not knowing they could swim, he left them on one of the islands beside the Silver River. When he later returned to the island he was surprised to see they were gone. The monkeys are still living in the area and are often seen by visitors.
Although we didn’t see any of the monkeys on this visit, we saw many of them when we kayaked down the Silver River in 2009.
The monkeys can be very aggressive at times. All around the park are signs warning about the danger of feeding the monkeys. Now where else in the United States would you see a sign like this?
What better way to begin our winter southern adventure than a stop in one of our favorite state parks, Stephen C. Foster State Park in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.
Much of the swamp is covered with thick peat deposits. The early Native Americans named the area Okefenokee which means “land of trembling earth” because they felt the movement of the peat beneath their feet as they walked.
There were deer in the campground every day. One day we took a walk on the boardwalk nature trail near the marina and watched an egret searching for food.
We always enjoy going out in a boat to explore the swamp. On our last visit we enjoyed our ranger guided boat tour so much we decided to go on another tour. While waiting for the tour to begin we wandered around the boat ramp and discovered Mama gator Sophie lounging by the ramp with some of her babies hanging out nearby.
Mama Sophie by the boat ramp with her babies nearby
As we rode through the man made canal into the swamp we spied more young gators on the bank enjoying the warm day.
A large gator checked us out as we exited the canal into the swamp.
After a few days of cloudy skies and chilly days the sun was starting to warm things up. The warmer weather brought out plenty of wildlife.
Cormorant in the Okefenokee
Alligator in the Okefenokee
Alligators enjoying some warm weather
Turtle in the swamp
Hanging out in the Okefenokee
The water winds through ancient cypress trees and water lilies.
Welcome to the last post in my series highlighting states we have visited throughout the years. I have only featured 45 of our beautiful United States because our wandering has never taken us to Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, Rhode Island or Vermont.
I will be featuring the states alphabetically. The next and final state of my series is
Wyoming became the 44th state on July 10, 1890. The Capital is Cheyenne.
The Wyoming welcome signs feature the copyrighted symbol of a Bucking Horse and Rider that has been used on Wyoming license plates since 1936. According to legend the Bucking Horse and Rider is based on the early 1900’s horse Steamboat, “the horse that couldn’t be ridden”.
My husband and I are huge fans of the Longmire mysteries by Craig Johnson. I’ve read all of them except his latest The Western Star (I’m on the waiting list at the library). Set in the small fictional town of Durant in Absaroka County somewhere near Sheridan and the Montana border, the stories feature Sheriff Walt Longmire and a wonderful cast of characters. With beautiful descriptions of Wyoming and the Bighorn Mountains, page turning mysteries, and great dialog Johnson’s books are hard to put down. Boy Howdy!
Yellowstone National Park is the world’s first national park and is one of the most popular national parks in the U. S. The national park covers over 3,000 square miles. We spent several days exploring and as we drove through the park we stopped to explore the geysers, natural formations, hot springs, rivers, waterfalls, lakes and so much more.
Geysers, Yellowstone National Park
Hot Spring, Yellowstone National Park
Along Yellowstone Lower Loop Road
Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park
Old Faithful Geyser, Yellowstone National Park
Mud geyser, Yellowstone National Park
Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone is famous for it’s wildlife. Huge bison herds roam freely through the park and often stop traffic. Elk and many other animals are frequently seen.
Bison in Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming)
Elk in Yellowstone National Park (Woming)
Elk, Yellowstone National Park
Bison along Yellowstone Lower Loop Road
Elk beside a river on the Yellowstone Upper Loop
If you love waterfalls you won’t be disappointed in Yellowstone.
Moose Falls, Yellowstone National Park
Lower Yellowstone Falls in Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming)
Waterfall along Yellowstone Lower Loop Road
Waterfall along the Yellowstone Upper Loop Road
Waterfall along the Yellowstone Upper Loop Road
Our time was limited in Grand Teton National Park but we were able to take in the majesty of the spectacular landscape.
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Grand Teton National Park
On one of our trips we left the Black Hills of South Dakota and traveled into Wyoming to see the Devils Tower. As we drove along we could see the tower jutting up from the prairie. Our campsite at Devils Tower KOA had a great view of the tower.
As we took a hike around the base of the tower images from the movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” popped into my head. There were climbers on the tower and some had made it all the way to the top.
We stopped in Alladin, Wyoming on the way to the Devils Tower
The Devils Tower can be seen from the highway
We loved seeing the Devils Tower from our campsite
There was a car show going on just out side the Devils Tower National Monument when we arrived
Devils Tower National Monument
We watched climbers making their way up the tower
We passed a prairie dog town on the way to the tower
Devils Tower at sunset
Devils Tower at sunrise
We enjoyed our stay at Peter D’s RV Park in Sheridan on our way to Alaska in 2013 so much that we stopped there again on our return trip. With a view of the Bighorn mountains, a historic town to explore, and dinner at the Wyoming Rib and Chop House it was a worth a return visit.
Buffalo Bill Cody stayed here when he was in Cody
Beautiful Sculpture in front of the Sheridan Inn
Mule deer walking through the campground in Sheridan, Wyoming
View of Bighorn Mountains from Peter D’s RV Park in Sheridan, WY
On our return trip from Alaska, we drove south from Sheridan through the high plains where we saw ranches, several herds of pronghorn antelope, and prairie dogs beside the road. We spent a night in Casper, Wyoming at Ft. Caspar RV Park where we visited Fort Caspar on the North Platte River.
Welcome to the next post in my series highlighting states we have visited throughout the years. I hope you will enjoy coming along for the ride!
I will be featuring the states alphabetically. The next state in my series is
Washington became the 42nd state on November 11, 1889. The Capital is Olympia.
Our first journey through the state of Washington began when we crossed the state line from Idaho heading west. After a quick night in Spokane we drove across the plains of south east and central Washington. On both sides of the highway were fields of sweet corn, alfalfa, potatoes and spearmint. Later in the day the flat land changed to rolling hills. We stopped at the Columbia River Gorge for a look before crossing the river.
After another quick stay at a campground outside of Seattle, we drove through Olympia and began our journey on Hwy 101 to the Olympic Peninsula. For many miles we traveled along the Hood Canal before arriving in Port Angeles to explore Olympic National Park.
A drive to the top of Hurricane Ridge was the first thing on our agenda. It was sunny when we started the ascent up the winding road but it wasn’t long before the snow started coming down. When we arrived at the top the snow was deep and there were snow boarders and cross country skiiers enjoying the snow. The view of the mountains was spectacular.
Another day we drove by Crescent Lake on the way to the Hoh Rain Forest. When we arrived at the National Park entrance we were disappointed to find it closed. After making a few purchases at a small store a few miles from the entrance we found out there was a trail head just outside the park so off we went to explore the trail. There had been a big storm the previous year and there were many trees down.
After our hike, we passed by a field with Roosevelt Elk on the drive back to the campground.
Dungeness Harbor was nearby so one night we went for dinner at the Three Crabs (the restaurant is now closed). There was a great view of the New Dungeness Lighthouse and were able to watch the sun go down.
Leaving Port Angeles in our rear view mirror we continued our journey through Washington on Hwy 101. As we drove south along the coast we caught our first glimpses of the Pacific Ocean. Hoping to find a parking space big enough for our truck and fifth wheel, we turned off the highway into a parking area at Ruby Beach in Olympic National Park. Success! It was a little tight but there was space to park and turn around to get back to the highway. After going down a short path to the beach we enjoyed our first walk beside the Pacific Ocean.
We continued down the coast to our next stop, Cape Disappointment Sate Park on the Long Beach Peninsula. It quickly became one of our all time favorite state park campgrounds. Our site was spacious with with a path behind the site. Inside the state park there were trails to explore, beautiful beaches, two lighthouses, magnificent views of the Pacific Ocean from high atop cliffs, and a Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. The first order of business to walk down the path and we were thrilled to step out onto a beautiful beach with a view of the North Head Lighthouse.
Lewis and Clark first spotted the Pacific Ocean while is the area and there is evidence of the their presence in and out of the state park. We learned a lot about their journey at the excellent Interpretive Center in the state park.
Lewis and Clark monument on the McKenzie Trail
Lewis and Clark first sighted the Pacific Ocean near here and camped in the area
We explored some of the nearby towns and beaches on the Long Beach Peninsula. We ate our fill of local seafood at some of the restaurants in the area. Blondie loved running on the dog friendly beaches.
We loved the two lighthouses at Cape Disappointment State Park.
Our first Washington adventure ended when we crossed the Columbia River into Oregon. Several years later we returned to Washington on our return trip from Alaska. After a couple of nights in Orroville just south of the border from British Columbia our route took us past more beautiful scenery and the Grand Coulee Dam.
Claytor Lake State Park has been a frequent camping destination since we have been RV’ing and is one of our favorite state parks with a beautiful lake, trails, and wildlife.
Seeing the Natural Bridge requires either a walk down many steps to a paved path or taking a shuttle drive down the hill to the beginning of the path. Either way it is worth it to see this amazing natural formation.