Spring Hunting at Rainbow Springs State Park
I think we got lucky on our recent trip to Rainbow Springs State Park. We just went for the spring hunting- honest, but were rewarded by the blossoming azaleas that lined the paths. So much color that it was impossible to capture it on film. I love azaleas- and all other bright and beautiful flowers- check out my instagram pics here for the proof!
The Florida weather was cool, but the sun was bright during our expedition at Rainbow Springs State Park near the small town of Dunnellon, but that did not stop the brave hearted from swimming in the 72F springhead. Brrr. Okay, so they were from Quebec, so they probably thought it was downright hot! I overheard another one of the swimmers, a girl from south Florida tell them: “I come up from South Florida every year just to swim here. It’s the cleanest spring I have ever swam!” So a clean bill of health to Rainbow Springs!
The State Park was once a famous Florida Attraction, much like Silver Springs, drawing visitors from everywhere, but much like the other parks, it fell on hard times and was rescued by the State Park service. The man-made waterfalls from the original attraction are still maintained and running, but the zoo and stables are mere ghosts, ruins and curious remnants in the natural surroundings. The hilly trails are a challenge, and the nature paths (beyond the Butterfly Garden) lead off into the wild, around the old phosphate pits and to the river beyond.
But we were here for the springs. According to Floridasprings.org, Rainbow Springs is the fourth largest spring in Florida. The main head spring of the Rainbow River is, well, the start of the Rainbow River! But there are several, more hidden springs along the river and around the park, like the boils on the path by the waterfalls and the springs under the palm on the way to the canoe launch.
Though we did not go swimming on this chilly day, we did this past summer, and even in the 90F weather, the kids’ lips were turning blue because the water was so cold! Be warned though, besides chilly water, the swim area is NOT for little kids or inexperienced swimmers. It is DEEP! (Though they do allow you to bring those foam swim noodles.) This popular park packs out early on the warm weekends and summer days. They will close the gate when they are full, so come early and consider a weekday trip. Bring a picnic lunch. (They have grills!) and eat on the sloping lawn with a view of the pristine Rainbow River.
THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:
- Park fee is $2 per person.
- Canoe/kayak rentals are available in the park.
- There is NO tubing from this park.
- Rainbow River Tubing (4 hour trip) is available from the city-run KP Hole (sign by Winn Dixie) or Rainbow Springs State Park Campground- (entrance is near the High School.) Seasonal only.
- There are concessions here.
- Boaters: be warned, like Juniper Run, this is a strict, patrolled river. No disposables.
Spring Hunting? Try these: