Salt Springs Recreation Area is one the recreational jewels of the Ocala National Forest, with a spectacular natural mineral spring that gives the area its name. Plenty of outdoor activities keep campers and day-use visitors busy, including swimming in the springs, fishing, snorkeling, hiking and boating. Salt Springs is located between the St. Johns and Ocklawaha Rivers, 35 miles east of Ocala, Florida.
The national forest spans four counties and 383,000 acres. It is the southernmost and oldest national forest east of the Mississippi River, and protects the world's largest, contiguous sand pine scrub forest.
The natural springs, nearby Lake George and many surrounding rivers and streams provide ample opportunity for water recreation. Anglers can try a good fishing spot on Salt Springs Run, downstream of the swimming area, boat ramp and marina. Boat rentals are nearby.
For those who wish to explore on land, the facility has basketball courts and a horseshoe pit. Hikers have easy access to the Bear Swamp Trail and a segment of the 1,400-mile Florida National Scenic Trail.
Salt Springs is the largest campground in the Ocala National Forest and the only one with full hookups for RVs. The facility offers spacious campsites for RVs and trailers, as well as a designated tent-only area, which is a short walk from the parking area. Sites are nicely shaded and well away from the busy day-use area.
The recreation area and campground are located in the community of Salt Springs, which has a gas station, grocery store, several restaurants, bait and tackle shops, a post office, laundromat and visitor center.
The semi-tropical region gives the campground a mixture of pines and palms, with lush greenery and warm temperatures. Within the recreation area, a natural spring rises from cracks deep within the earth. The presence of potassium, magnesium and sodium salts give the waters a slight salinity - hence the name Salt Springs.
Salt Springs is very close to Lake George, a great fishing destination.
ADA Access: N
Located in the Ocala National Forest in Central Florida
Campground- with 2 large camping areas with over 150 sites overall this is one of the better campgrounds we have ever visited. One campground has complete hookups, meaning 50amp, water and sewer. The cherry on top is that all the sites are paved! Wifi is ok with our booster and using our verizon jetpacks. There are two bathhouses with 3 showers.
The second campground area also has an equally large camping area that is primitive with only water and bear lockers and one bath house. This area is closer to the kayak boat launch. This area does not have paved roads and can be very sandy causing some bigger vehicles to get stuck apparently.
Your campground fee does include entry into the springs, but know that on high attendance weekends you cannot drive your car to the springs parking lot and the springs can be up to 3/4 mile walk depending on your campsite. There are no laundry facilities but if you exit park and drive left there is a laundromat, local food, dollar store, bait tackle. If you exit park and go left there will be a marathon gas station on your left- the unmarked building behind that is a small grocery store. Across the street from this unmarked grocery story is a charming veggie/fruit stand and a food truck that serves mexican inspired food with a local flair.
Note- be aware the road that leads to the boat ramp occasionally is forced to close due soft sand . (This happens when there is a drought) This means you will have to go to the Salt Springs Marina around the corner about 2 miles if you need a vehicle to drop off your boat.
Hiking-In the park there is a dedicated 1.5 mile trail called Bear Swamp Trail and there is a .5 mile trail to the springs. This park also has its own connector to the trail to the Florida Trail.
Nearby short biking/hiking distance from the park connector trail is also the Salt spring observation loop Hike. There are soo many hiking opportunities in the area because of the Ocala Forrest, Florida Trail and the connectors. Two of my favorite resources for this area are the websites Florida Hikes and the Florida Rambler.
Biking- the roads in and around the park are very bike friendly. If you are into mountain biking you will enjoy the hundreds of miles of ATV/multi use trails in the area.
Water Activities/Kayaking- Swimming in the Salt Springs-This is a natural spring area that due to the composition of minerals in the water there is a slightly salty tinge to the water. The water in the springs are generally crystal clear and having googles and/or mask would make this more fun. Water temperature is 72-74 degrees year around. (We are currently here in June and our last visit was in January of this same year.) Also- in the colder months - Chances increase of seeing manatees the salt springs run.
Just outside the swimming area is the "Salt Springs Run" which flows slowly for 4.5 miles into Lake George. This means paddling up and down the salt run is enjoyable both ways.
Other Activities outside the park- 1.5 miles away there are 4 pickle ball courts available by exiting right from the park.
Amrit Yoga institute is about 10 miles away and offers wellness weekends, yoga, pilates. There is also yoga on Tuesday nights at the Salt Springs Recreation center (next to the pickleball courts)
We hope you enjoy this park as much as we do. Enjoy the video we made for YouTube- it is below.
Happy Camping! Pamela and Keith
Nice area and staff. Site 142 is big and slightly more separated than the rest of the tent sites. Also closest to the kayak launch. The other sites holy crap no privacy or separation between most of them. Wouldn't want to camp here when they are busy.
Beautiful campground in Ocala forest! I camped here for 2 nights and enjoyed everything about it! Campsite 160 is my absolute favorite because it's the only private tent ground. Everything else is an open layout with the neighbors. Salt springs is a short walk about 3-5 minutes. Great for swimming and snorkeling! Crabs, turtles and manatees swim nearby as well! Campsite includes entrance to springs, fire pit, bench, water hook up with your own supplies though. Shower house and sink house centrally located. All of the hosts and rangers were so nice they genuinely care for the property which is so wonderful to see!! Brings tubes/rafts or buy one at the springs shop. Only thing close by at 5minutes is subway, dollar general, and gas stations so be prepared.
We decided to change the primitive camping to an easier drive in and loved it. The spot and people were perfect. The natural springs and area was amazing. I loved the feel of nature there.
The campsites are clean and well taken care of. The staff are very friendly. The bathrooms are pretty clean. Also, clean water is available around the campsite. The springs are beautiful and a great place to spend the day.
The springs in Ocala are breathtaking. If you enjoy hiking, bird watching, photography or simply being outdoors this is the place to do it. The only downfall to this park is that the RV sites aren’t private at all, not many trees separating the sites. If you want to travel to the other springs you do have to pay for each location, would be great if the local parks would offer a pass to get into all parks for campers. Also, if you like to hike make sure you spray down, ticks may get on you. Overall our visit was very nice.
We have camped here two times and I’ve enjoyed it both times. The camp sites have no privacy though. The springs are amazing and are highly recommended. The fish swim all around and aren’t scared of swimmers. The springs have several deep caverns. We saw a blue crab crawling up from one of them.
The bathrooms were a mess on our second visit, but still was due to one of the large groups.
We have camped here twice. Once with kids and once without. The spaces are close together without much vegetation. The bathrooms leave much to be desired. There is a ROBUST raccoon population as well. The springs are refreshing to swim in and the kids loved swimming there.
This is a great campground. The bath houses are spaced out well and nicely maintained . Very quiet. I do recommend reservations since the walk up spots fill up fast. We’ll be back!
Grew up camping here as a kid, I would recommend the primitive over the RV spots. The people are more friendly on that side! Other than that it’s clean nicely laid out and the staff is friendly.