Kayaking From King’s Landing

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Orlando is the home to multiple theme parks and attractions that draw people in from all over the world. However, there are plenty of other things to do in central Florida that don’t require standing in long lines or pushing through crowds. Consider taking a short drive out of town and enjoying one of the many natural springs scattered across the state. One of my favorites and closest springs can be accessed by kayaking from King’s Landing along Rock Springs Run.


Location of King’s Landing

King’s Landing is located in Apopka just off the Kelly Park Road exit of 429. Heading east off the toll road for a few miles will land you at an intersection with tube rentals (more on that later). Turn down Kelly Park Road and you’ll eventually pass Kelly Park on your right. At the end of the road will be King’s Landing. Use this address to help you navigate to the entrance.

Looking for a place to stay near King’s Landing? Check out Hampton Inn & Suites for a comfortable and affordable hotel only a short drive from your outdoor adventures!

A view of Rock Springs Run taking a sharp turn through the lily pads.
One of the sections of Rock Springs Run that isn’t as shaded as the rest.

King’s Landing versus Rock Springs Run versus Wekiva River

It’s important to know the difference between all of these locations because they are easily confused. King’s Landing is a place to rent or launch kayaks, canoes and paddle boards that is about 2 miles from the mouth of Rock Spring. Kelly Park is where you can go to enjoy swimming and tubing closer to the mouth of Rock Spring. For both locations, you will be floating along what is called Rock Springs Run which eventually meets up with the Wekiwa Springs run. Both of these springs then make up the Wekiwa River.

A map showing the route from King's Landing to Wekiva Island.
An easy to read map that will guide you from King’s Landing to Wekiva Island. You will be provided this map when you pay for your rental.

Visiting the Wekiva River

Honestly, there is no wrong time to kayak from King’s Landing. Summer will obviously be more crowded with both Florida locals and tourists looking for a great way to cool off. Winter in central Florida can be cooler, but you’ll have the water mostly to yourself. I’d say the only thing to be conscious of is that in the summer, thunderstorms typically roll through in the afternoon. Get out on the water early and be prepared to hustle if the weather catches you off guard.

A low hanging oak tree juts out of the spring run.
One of my favorite spots along the run. If you are paddling with a SUP then make sure to duck!

Arriving at King’s Landing

Arriving at the gate of King’s Landing you can park in their driveway to unload your personal vessel or any other gear you have. Once unloaded, you will need to park outside the gates along the road. King’s Landing is open 7 days a week from 8 am to 5 pm. Check in at the office and make sure to grab a free beer from the cooler!

The gate to enter King's Landing from the main road.
The gate to King’s Landing. Drive in to unload any gear and then park along the road just outside of the gate.

Routes to take from King’s Landing

A skinny canal from the launch leads out to Rock Springs Run. Turning to the left will lead you down Rock Springs Run towards Wekiva Island. This route is with the current and is approximately 8.5 miles. This part of the run is beautiful and considered wild Florida. The water is still clear, but more of a brownish color because of the tannins. Keep your eyes peeled for a plethora of native wildlife like alligators, deer, and birds of prey. This journey will take you about 4.5 hours to reach Wekiva Island and a good portion of it is not shaded so plan accordingly!

The brownish water towards the end of the paddle due to the tannins.
The water remains clear, but more of a brownish color because of the tannins.

Going back to when you exit the canal, I recommend turning RIGHT regardless of if you intend to kayak from King’s Landing to Wekiva Island. If you paddle to the right you will be against the current, though not terribly difficult to handle. It’s about 2 miles to the “bridge” which usually takes me about 1 hour. This portion of Rock Springs Run is called the Emerald Cut which is ABSOLUTELY STUNNING and SHOULDN’T BE MISSED! The water is shallow in some parts so it’s safe to pull over and cool off.

Looking upstream at the a small lush island which is probably the most iconic part of Rock Springs Run.
The most picturesque spot along Rock Springs Run. Stop here to relax and enjoy the cool shallow water.

Kayaking from King’s Landing

*King’s Landing only accepts CASH and
no reservations are needed so arrive early*

**UPDATE-KING’S LANDING NOW ACCEPTS
CREDIT CARDS AS WELL AS CASH!**

King’s Landing rents both kayaks and canoes as well as offer private tours. Boats can be rented for the entire run from King’s Landing to Wekiva Island. Prices start at $50 for a single kayak or double canoe and $60 for a double kayak. This price includes the kayak’s equipment as well as the return shuttle back to King’s Landing. This is a point to point paddle starting at King’s Landing and ending at Wekiva Island. You must be on the water by 11:00 am in order to make it to the pick-up point by 4:00 pm. In the summer, another pick-up time is added at 2:30 pm. I would suggest starting as early as possible. If you begin at 11:00 am you will not have enough time to do the Emerald Cut and make it to Wekiva Island in time.

A view of the skinny canal that leads from King's Landing towards Rock Springs Run.
The canal that leads from King’s Landing out onto Rock Springs Run. Make a RIGHT out of the canal to enjoy the crystal clear water before contuing down towards Wekiva Island.

Once you arrive at Wekiva Island, paddle past the beach area and make the first right. You’ll paddle just a bit longer and see a dock where you can pull your boats out of the water. This is the spot where you will catch the shuttle back to King’s Landing.

The ramp and pavilion which marks the pick up point at Wekiva Island.
The exit point after the paddle from King’s Landing to Wekiva Island.

Exploring just the Emerald Cut.

Another choice is to simply rent a kayak or canoe for a few hours and spend the entire time exploring the Emerald Cut. For this option, canoes are $30, single kayaks are $40 and doubles are $50 for the entire day.

A yellow kayak is an example of one of the vessels available to rent at King's Landing.
A shot of one of the kayaks that are available to rent at King’s Landing.

Launching your personal kayak or paddle board.

If you’d like to launch your own vessel at King’s Landing, it’s $10. If you’d like to utilize their return shuttle for the point to point paddle it’ll cost $20. The shuttle service will also transport personal kayaks and boards on their trailer. This is a huge perk if you plan to paddle alone! Drive time from Wekiva Island back to King’s Landing is about 20 minutes.

A view of a paddle board from above showing just how clear the water of Rock Springs Run is.
A stark contrast between the crystal clear water of Rock Springs Run and my gear packed stand up paddle board.

Rock Springs Run activities

Aside from kayaking from King’s Landing, you can also float along Rock Springs Run in an inner tube. As I mentioned before, you can rent tubes just before the entrance to Kelly Park at Rock Springs Bar and Grill. The tubes are already inflated and cost $7 to rent for the day. Arrive early to grab a tube and a place to park. Kelly Park typically reaches capacity on weekends and holidays.

A view from between two palm trees looking downstream.
Just another slice of paradise. Can you believe this is less than an hours drive from Orlando?

It is possible to bring your own tube as long as it is less than 5 feet in length. The price to get into Kelly Park is $3 per vehicle for 1-2 passengers or $5 per vehicle for 3-8 passengers. *I have not tubed from Kelly Park yet so none of my photos are from that portion of the run.*


Points of Interest near King’s Landing

I feel like it is worth mentioning again: make sure to start early enough and take that RIGHT out of the canal to explore the Emerald Cut. Most of my photos are from this area because it is so gorgeous.

Looking down Rock Springs Run surrounded by a lush green forest.
Arrive early for a chance to enjoy the spring run all to yourself.

Hungry after your paddle?

Another highlight is grabbing some food and drinks at Wekiva Island. Whether you paddle the entire 8.5 miles kayaking from King’s Landing or only paddle around the Emerald Cut make sure to stop by! Wekiva Island is a perfect mix between Florida locals and tourists. There is a beach bar and a food truck as well as spots to hang out by the water.

People line the banks of Wekiva Island while they enjoy drinks and food.
Wekiva Island is a great place to grab a drink after a fun day kayaking from King’s Landing.

I hope you enjoy kayaking from King’s Landing! Check out some of my other favorite places to paddle in Florida or where to swim with manatees in the sunshine state!

I want to remind everyone that plans to paddle any of the springs in Florida to remember to NEVER discard anything (trash, plastic bottles, etc.) while enjoying these natural places and NEVER harass the wildlife. Let’s keep Florida WILD!

Check out my video below of paddling through the Emerald Cut of Rock Springs Run! If you have any questions or comments, feel free to drop those below or reach out to me on my Facebook Page!

24 thoughts on “Kayaking From King’s Landing”

  1. Such a helpful post! Do you happen to know of any camping or inexpensive places to stay very close to this? I am traveling down FL from Atlanta and don’t know much about the area. Thanks!!

    1. I believe there is a campground at Kelly Park (where you can tube down Rock Springs Run). I’ll have to check it out the next time I’m there and get back to you! But Rock Springs is in Wekiwa Springs State Park so check out the Florida State Park website! 🙂

  2. Love your last tip to keep our Florida clean & protect wildlife! I’ve never kayaked, but my sons have. I’ll have to try it at least once and this place looks like the perfect place to do so.

    1. 🙂 Thank you! I want to make sure I keep driving that point home. I want to share all these wonderful places, but I want them to remain natural and wild for everyone to enjoy!

  3. I love this! You included such detailed information! And Apopka is somewhere we have not been! Central Florida has so much more than Disney!

  4. Thank you for such a detailed post! I think you answered every possible question I might have had as I was reading through it. I just got a paddle board and I cannot wait to take it out. Thanks again!

  5. Hello,
    Is there any other way to access the emerald cut than by renting a canoë ? By renting a tube or on foot, can we access the emerald cut ? How to access it ?
    Thanks for these informations.
    Séverine

    1. Hi! To access the Emerald Cut you’ll have to rent or launch a kayak, paddleboard or canoe from King’s Landing (the closest launch point). Tubing is possible at Kelly Park which is just down the road, but there is a bridge that separates the two (tubing from the Emerald Cut). Let me know if you have any more questions! 🙂

  6. If you launch from Wekiva state park, how difficult would the paddle be going to King’s landing? We would be going against current, correct?

    1. Hi!! It is against the current if you launch from Wekiva going towards King’s Landing. I haven’t done it yet, but I would plan to be on the water the entire day. It’s an 8-mile paddle one way and takes about 4 hours to go with the current. It would definitely be an adventure and I think would be pretty difficult!! If you do it, you’ll have to let me know what you think! 🙂

  7. Hi Bridgette!

    My Family and I just moved to Orlando. We are so excited to get out and explore this gorgeous state and all the springs! What kind of gear do you recommend bringing with you for SUP? We are hoping to purchase our own gear so we can take it everywhere. Do you have any recommendations on where to purchase SUPs and gear? Brands, inflatable vs. epoxy, etc? Also, are dogs welcome to join in on the paddle from King’s Landing?

    Cheers!

    1. Hi Ashley!! Florida is amazing and I’m so glad you’re here! Welcome!!! 🙂 I’ll start with the SUP! I have an inflatable and it does great in open water as well as all the springs. I’ve done a few mangrove areas, but it’s important to stay away from those spots during low tides because oysters can really scratch up and ruin a board! I have the Nautical iSUP from iRocker. https://irockersup.com/?acc=cfcd208495d565ef66e7dff9f98764da <-Here's the link to their site (Just copy and paste to your browser). It's one of the more affordable brands out there and is super durable and all around just awesome! *Disclaimer* I am an affiliate for them so if you use my link, I'll get a small kickback! 🙂 As for other gear. I have a huge wide-brimmed sun hat that I always have with me! Also, water bottle, tons of sunscreen/bugspray, a waterproof bag (for your phone, keys or camera), and I always take my GoPro! I will also say if you plan to swim at King's Landing or any of the other springs, grab a snorkel set! Dogs are welcome at King's Landing. Even on the rental kayaks. You'll see tons of dogs out there! And there's also plenty of spots to stop and let them out to swim. Just be aware, this is Florida, so gators are everywhere. I've never seen them along this run, but I have heard them and obviously have seen them in other places. Just be vigilant and you'll be fine. Let me know if you have any other questions! And thank you so much for reading!!! 🙂

  8. Hi I am planning a trip for next weekend possibly and would like to tube down! Will the shuttle be available to me as well? How would I go about getting a ride from the shuttle if I am tubing? Also if I tube, will it let me out where the restaurants and such are? Sorry I am a little confused. But you have WONDERFUL info!

    1. Hi Ashlee!!! Thank you so much! Tubing currently is not available at Kelly Park, unfortunately!! I think it is due to COVID! You can either rent a kayak from King’s Landing to do this run or bring your own vessel! If you are set on tubing, check out either Blue Spring or Rainbow River. Let me know if you have any other questions!!! 🙂 I’m happy to help!

  9. Hi Bridget

    We plan on camping at Kelly Park and putting in at Kings Landing. If we stay to the right after launching we can see emerald cut and then continue to paddle down to wakiva island right?
    So we could park one vehicle at kings landing and the other at wakiva?
    (We will have our own kayak/sups)
    The entire paddle would be with the current?
    Is the water clear that route? (I know a couple of post said it depends on which route you take, some said it’s more brown on some routes)

    1. Hi!!! Thank you so much for reaching out! 🙂 Once you leave the canal from King’s Landing to the RIGHT is the Emerald Cut. It’s about a 2-mile paddle to the bridge which is then Kelly Park, all crystal clear water (unless we’ve had a lot of rain)! When you leave the canal and turn LEFT it’ll take you to Wekiva Island. That’s a longer paddle (4-5 hours) with the current. The current isn’t very strong though so you’ll be doing a lot of paddling. The route to Wekiva Island is very much wild Florida. The water is clear, but it’s not like the Emerald Cut because the bottom is muddier so it appears more brown/dark water. There are tons of gators this route so be vigilant! And yes! If you park a car at Wekiva Island and launch from King’s Landing that will work! I hope all this helps! Please let me know if you have any other questions!!! I’m happy to help! 🙂 Have so much fun!!!

  10. Hi Bridget! Thanks for all this information. My understanding is that Kong’s Lansing is not providing a shuttle due to Covid. They are renting kayaks for out and back only. Would it be possible to kayak the emerald cut this way? How long would that take?

    1. Hi Jennifer! Correct. No shuttles (at least since I was last there which was a few weeks ago). They are renting kayaks! You can access the Emerald Cut from Kings Landing by turning right after leaving the canal from the launch. If you take your time during your paddle and stop to swim, you’d probably spend 2-3 hours out there. But it’s only about a 2 mile run. It’s not far at all but the current is pretty strong! You paddle against the current first and then you’ll float back to the launch with the current! I hope this helps!!! Let me know if you have any other questions and have so much fun!!!

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