Why King’s Landing Florida Should Be on Your Radar
Kings Landing Florida is one of those places not yet fully discovered. It’s a secret for many in the paddling community.
Florida is famous for its great outdoors–from its parks to its dive spots, the Sunshine State offers outdoor adventures unlike any other in the country.
That said, while the majority of tourists will most likely flock to Florida’s stunning beaches, nothing beats paddling down the state’s rivers and natural springs if you want to truly appreciate the state’s natural beauty (or as some locals would call it, the “real” Florida).
On that note, if you’re looking for a beginner-friendly paddling destination that showcases Florida’s scenery and vibrant wildlife (think Amazon rainforest-esque), there’s nothing better than King’s Landing in Apopka, Florida.
Just a short drive from Orlando, King’s Landing features arguably the most picturesque section of Rock Springs Run, a private paddling route that feeds the Wekiva River Basin.
The facility at King’s Landing rents out canoes and kayaks, and offers guests a variety of guided tours.
While King’s Landing has a bunch of moderately challenging twists and turns, the current along this section of Rock Springs Run is never too strong (on normal days where there’s little to no rainfall), and its waters are never too deep–which basically means it’s a perfect getaway for experienced and newbie paddlers alike!
Read the rest of this guide to know why King’s Landing should be on your next Florida itinerary!
Where exactly is King’s Landing?
King’s Landing is located at in the Rock Springs Run State Reserve in Florida–less than 45 minutes from Orlando. The area is forested around the Rock Springs Run river.
We highly recommend bringing your own car to King’s Landing as, while it’s not necessarily too far from the city, it might be a bit difficult to find a ride from King’s Landing.
If you don’t have one, just rent a car for a day! It’s worth it (we promise).
There’s limited parking space, so make sure to get there early!
What to do here
So you’ve got your trusty paddle board ready, packed all your essentials, and you’re all set for your trip. What exactly do you do at King’s Landing? Where do you even start?
First, check-in, sign the appropriate waivers, and get your King’s Landing wristband.
There are basically two paddling routes here once you exit the narrow canal at King’s Landing’s launch–one that takes you to a scenic, more popular stretch of Rock Springs Run, and one that takes you to a longer, more untamed, jungle-like stretch.
The more scenic route is definitely the one that leads to the Emerald Cut and further up to Rock Springs. It’s an upstream paddle, but it shouldn’t present too much of a challenge for even the greenest of newbies. This route takes about an hour upstream, and obviously, even quicker on the way back.
Take a right turn after you exit the canal, and you should be on your way to Emerald Cut.
Emerald Cut features pristine, teal blue water that’s only around 2-4 feet deep. There’s heaps of sandbars along this stretch and mini islands where you can stop and take pictures, or just appreciate the view. Most guests consider this stretch to be King’s Landing’s main attraction, and spend a bulk of their time here.
While paddling upstream to the Emerald Cut should definitely take priority, the experience, in our opinion, wouldn’t be complete without paddling through the other route–the one that leads to Wekiwa Springs State Park and further down to Wekiva Island.
To get on this route, turn left after you exit the launch canal.
This route also boasts clear waters, although not as blue as in Emerald Cut.
Although this route is longer (8.5 miles downstream) and, probably to some of the younger guests, much less ‘gram-worthy, it does offer a rawer, much more rustic experience.
Since this is a longer, less popular route, there’s more chances of spotting some of the native wildlife in the area, such as alligators, black bears, otters, turtles, deer, and a variety of birds! Make sure to bring a camera (and a pair of binoculars, too, if you’re keen on observing the wildlife here) with you!
Even though you’re no longer paddling against the current, the journey downstream takes roughly 4.5 hours, and most of it isn’t shaded, so prepare accordingly.
At the midway point of this journey to Wekiva Island, there are three primitive campsites where you can have some lunch, have a light snack, spend a few hours to rest, or spend the night (provided you’ve made reservations): Big Buck, Indian Mound, and Otter Camp.
Once you get to the dock at Wekiva Island, there’s a shuttle that takes you back to the launch site at King’s Landing (you’ll have to get the correct wristband to board the shuttle, though).
If you’re not keen on discovering Rock Springs Run by yourself, guests also have the option of going on guided tours.
If you’re an experienced paddler, King’s Landing’s VIP Wild Florida Kayak Adventure takes guests to secret passageways where the Timucuan Indians used to roam. Expect to see a more rugged side of Rock Springs Run on this tour.
If you want a little bit of everything, you can also try King’s Landing’s Hike + Kayak Jungle Adventure, where guests get to explore the surrounding Florida jungle’s trails and kayak and swim through certain parts of Rock Springs Run! This tour is for guests that are confident swimmers and in good physical shape only.
..what if you’re not into paddling?
If you just want to enjoy the area’s raw beauty and its vibrant wildlife, you can do some primitive camping at the Eagle Boy Scout Retreat Campground and watch the stars as you burn your marshmallows and retell your favorite horror story for the thousandth time.
If you’re bringing your family with you and want your accommodations to be a bit more plush than a tent and fire pit, you can also opt to stay at one of King’s Landing’s cabins!
What you need to bring
You’re going to be in the water a lot, and you can’t bring glass or styrofoam, so here’s what you should bring (you can bring more, obviously, but these are vital):
- some snacks and drinks (no alcoholic beverages)
- an insulated container to drink from
- a dry bag to put all your small essentials in
- your own PFD (if you’re not renting one)
- a camera
- a nice pair of water shoes (unless you’re fine and dandy going barefoot)
If you’re bringing your own watercraft, we’d recommend:
Inflatable kayaks and paddle boards are ideal here. You want something that’s light and doesn’t take up much space when it comes to these out of town adventures.
King’s Landing is generally beginner-friendly, but since this section of Rock Springs Run has a lot of narrow twists and turns, you want something that’s easy to maneuver, such as these:
- Oru Kayak Inlet
- Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Inflatable
- Driftsun 2-Person
- Advanced Elements Firefly
Rental rates per vessel (up to 4 hours, equipment and safety gear included):
- Canoe – 59 USD (seats up to 3 people, with a maximum weight capacity of 600 lbs.)
- Double Kayak – 69 USD (seats 2 people, with a maximum weight capacity of 450 lbs.)
- Single Kayak – 49 USD (good for 1 person, with a maximum weight capacity of 300 lbs.)
If you’re bringing your own vessel, rates per person are:
- For guests 13 years of age and older – 10 USD
- For guests 12 years of age and under – 5 USD
If you don’t have your own PFD and whistle, you may rent one at check-in for 5 USD each.
- Eagle Boy Scout Retreat Campground – 30 USD per night (one tent per site)
- For River Camping at the primitive campsites at the midway point of the 8.5 mile shuttle run – 5 USD per person, per night (reservations are required and must be made through Wekiwa Springs State Park)
- Studio Waterfront Bungalow – 153 USD per night (sleeps 4)
- 2 Bedroom Waterfront Cabin – 281.20 USD per night (sleeps 6)
- Bear Cabin (Waterfront) – 146 USD per night (sleeps 4)
- Turtle Cabin – 142 USD per night (sleeps 4)
- Otter Cabin – 217 USD per night (sleeps 4)
- Emerald Cut Kayak Adventure (beginner) – 59 USD per person
- VIP Wild Florida Kayak Adventure (intermediate) – 89 USD per person
- Eco River Adventure Shuttle Run (experienced) – 99 USD per person
- Hike + Kayak Jungle Adventure (beginner) – 79 USD per person
- Summer Nites Kayak Adventure (beginner) – 59 USD per person
Wildlife (what to watch out for)
Well, this is Florida. While there hasn’t been any record of alligator attacks within King’s Landing, there have been some incidents in other areas near King’s Landing, and within the Wekiva River.
Stay vigilant and keep an eye out for gators when paddling down Rock Springs Run.
Moreover, while there are black bears in the area, they’re generally not typically aggressive and react only if you invade their space and/or provoke them. If you’re doing some primitive camping, it’s best to set up camp away from trails!
When to visit
The best time to visit King’s Landing is during Central Florida’s dry season, which typically occurs between the months of January and February.
Since there’s little to no rainfall, the waters are generally crystal clear this time of the year, and you can enjoy Rock Springs Run (especially the Emerald Cut) at its scenic best!
Other attractions near King’s Landing
King’s Landing lies along Rock Springs Run, so it’s near Kelly Park, Wekiwa Springs State Park, Wekiva River, and Wekiva Springs.
That said, you don’t have to limit yourself to these natural attractions. Other tourist spots in Central Florida include the Kissimee Lakefront Park, the Lake Apopka Wildlife Trail, and Disney and Universal Studios in Orlando (if you’re stopping by Orlando, make sure to check out this list)!
If you are looking for inspiration before your trip read these Travel Quotes!
Frequently asked questions
Yes, there are alligators in King’s Landing as well as in other parts of Rock Springs Run. While there hasn’t been any recorded attacks within King’s Landing, it’s best to stay vigilant and keep a safe distance from an alligator if you see one.
Yes, you can definitely swim at King’s Landing. There are a number of swimming areas within King’s Landing and its neighboring Kelly Park. That said, there are no lifeguards on-site, so swim at your own risk.
King’s Landing is primarily a paddling destination. That said, you can also do some swimming, hiking, birdwatching, primitive camping, and fishing here.
The water at Rock Springs generally fluctuates between 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit, regardless of the season!