Florida Scenics Blog- The art of Sharon Osterholt

The Florida State Park Plein Air Painting Tour – Painting each of Florida's State Parks on location

Park #128 – Hillsborough River State Park

Want to see some river rapids in Florida?

A good place to see a wild river is at Hillsborough River State Park between Zepherhills and Tampa. The river is known for its rapids! The Hillsborough River runs through the park and there are easy trails all along it’s bank with great views of the rapids.

The main road is a one-way circle through the middle of the park, and we stopped at the first trail head to see the Rapids Overlook.  Here the river rushes over the rocks. I looked  down below the observation deck and there was a photographer taking some shots of the rapids. I looked up and saw some Green Fly Orchids blooming on the branches above us!

We then drove over to the next stop and visited the park store for a drink. There is also a large swimming pool here, so this is the place to swim! I decided to paint the view of the river from the canoe launch area across from the store. This is an easy place to get down to the water level, otherwise the bank is 4-8 feet above the river.

As I painted a few people went out for a ride on the canoes. I could hear them before I could see them coming around the bend – usually they were yelling “ALLIGATOR!” One large alligator just slowly floated silently by me like a log. I guess that is why they built the pool, as the river certainly is not a place to go swimming!

Before leaving the park, we had to stop and take some photos of the wildflowers blooming. The flowers were in full fall glory along the park road. I even saw some more orchids! Several Toothpetal False Rein Orchids were in bloom along the edges of sunflower field.

I wonder what types of flowers bloom here in the spring? I guess that is a good excuse to come back in a few months!

For more information about this park, visit their website


Hillsborough River Palms – 8×10″ oil on linen panel

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