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Monday, January 21, 2008

Ocala National Forest

Published MotorHome Magazine January 2008
Made up of almost a half-million acres in north-central Florida, an hour west of Daytona Beach and two hours north of Orlando, Ocala is a veritable wonderland for those who enjoy nature in its pristine beauty. Ocala has 19 campgrounds, three of which offer large spring-fed swimming holes that stay 72 degrees F year-round and provide a great stop on the way to better-known attractions in the Sunshine State -- or a destination of its own for those who like to hike, canoe and swim.

The waters at the three springs each have their own distinct personalities. The pleasant swim basin at Juniper Spring was a mere seep until the 1930s when it was dug out and enclosed in a concrete ring. Alexander Springs, on the other hand, gushes, blowing out a large caldron of sand and then produces a river rushing a dozen miles through the forest until its clear waters merge into the tannic-laden, coffee-colored waters of the St. Johns River. In years gone by, Salt Spring was known for jetting up -- fountain-like -- above the level of the waters, but modern demands on the water table have reduced it to a modest flow. Silver Glen Spring is another beautiful spring and provides a picnic and day-use area but no overnight camping.
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