Rainbow Springs State Park

Southwest 81st Place Road, Dunnellon, Florida, US, 34432 | Directions
(352) 465-8550 Reservations
Archaeological evidence indicates that people have been using this spring for nearly 10,000 years. Rainbow Springs is Florida's fourth largest spring and, from the 1930s through the 1970s, was the site of a popular, privately-owned attraction. The Rainbow River is popular for swimming, snorkeling, canoeing, and kayaking. Canoes and kayaks can be rented at the headsprings. A picnic area at the spring includes tables, grills, and pavilions. For large gatherings, private pavilions can be reserved. Tubing is not allowed in the headsprings area of the park. Tubers can launch at the Tube Entrance on SW 180th Avenue Road. The Campground Entrance with a full-facility campground is about nine miles from the day use area. The Headsprings Entrance is located three miles north of Dunnellon on the east side of U.S. 41. The campground is located on S.W. 180th Avenue Road about two miles north of County Road 484 and two miles south of State Road 40. The Tube Entrance is located 1.4 miles south of the campground Entrance on SW 180th Avenue Road.

Throughout the park, on all of the Nature Trails and along the river exist many wonderful birding opportunities. A brand new park birding list has been created and a guided bird walk is offered the second Saturday of every month except June, July and August. Please call the park for more details.

The crystalline waters of Rainbow Springs and Rainbow River have undergone many name changes throughout its history. Wekiwa Creek, Blue Spring, and Blue Run are just some of the names we have assigned this magical body of water. Since this place has attracted and sustained human inhabitants for over 15,000 years, it is very likely that many other names we will never know once described these waters in terms equally attractive. The crystal clear water, abundant fish, wildlife and vegetation has attracted a number of activities.

The springs became popular in the late 1880's when hard rock phosphate was discovered in the area. A small community called Juliette flourished near the springs during this "boomtown" era. In the 1930s the spring was developed as a tourist attraction. Sea walls, a lodge, gift shop, the waterfalls, and a reptile exhibit were developed. It was during this time that the name was changed to Rainbow Springs and Rainbow River because of the prism of colors visible when the sun's rays shot through the sparkling water. It was also due to the fact that there were some 30 different "Blue Holes" in Florida and this would help visitors find their way!

Under new ownership, the real heyday for the attraction occurred in the 1960s. During that time, activity greatly increased with glass-bottomed boat rides, riverboat rides, a log raft ride, a gift shop and cafe, an aviary, a leaf-shaped gondola/ monorail system, a rodeo, and submarine boat tours. When I-75 was built however, traffic was diverted away from this area and tourists began heading to a new attraction called Disney World. Rainbow Springs Attraction closed in 1974.

The entire Rainbow River was designated as a Registered Natural Landmark in 1972, an Aquatic Preserve in 1986, and an "Outstanding Florida Waterway" in 1987. The state purchased the original area that was the Rainbow Springs Attraction in 1990. Volunteers cleared the overgrown park and opened the park on weekends to the public in 1993. The Florida Park Service officially opened Rainbow Springs State Park on a full time basis on March 9, 1995.

The Rainbow Springs State Park campground is located on the river about a mile and a half downstream from the main headspring and day use area, a driving distance of approximately 6 miles. All sites have water and electric (20, 30, and 50 amp), and are equipped with sewer hook-ups. Most sites will accommodate a 40-foot RV with slide out. A dump station is located between the upper and lower campgrounds. A campground store, recreation hall, showers & restrooms, laundry, pool, and playground complete the amenities offered.


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The cool, clear waters of the headsprings attract swimmers from late spring through fall. Swimming and snorkeling are restricted to the buoyed swimming area. The average depth in the swimming area runs from 5 to 18 feet; the water temperature averaging 72 degrees year round. Swimming hours are from 8 am to one hour before sunset. The swimming area is closed during thunderstorms. All inflatables, including rafts, tubes and balls are not allowed in the park. Swimmers may wear life preservers or use the popular " swim noodles."

During the busier summer season lifeguards may be on duty. Other than a small wading area for toddlers, the water is over 5 feet deep. Please be prepared to carefully monitor your own children and non-swimmers.

Starting at the state park and flowing into the Withlacoochee River at Dunnellon, the 5.6 mile long Rainbow River is truly an outstanding waterway. The crystal clear water flowing past moss-draped cypress trees competes for your attention with the river otters and large numbers of wading birds. Launching access to the river is somewhat limited. Many boaters launch at the popular KP Hole County Park, approximately 1-? miles downstream from the park. Privately owned boats launched at the headsprings must be carried from the parking area approximately 1000 feet to the canoe launch. Campers may rent or launch their own canoes or kayaks at the state park campground. Canoes and kayaks, including paddles and all safety equipment, are available for rent from our Visitor Service Provider, Dragonfly Watersports. A number of special regulations apply to the Rainbow River, so be sure to review the river rules prior to any boating activities.

Snorkeling the headsprings of the Rainbow River is a favorite activity but is only allowed in the buoyed swimming area. However, it is allowed from the campground or from boats once you are outside of the headsprings. Please be aware that state law requires dive flags for all snorkelers. Another way to enjoy snorkeling is to sign up during the summer for a ranger-guided tour. You will learn what you are looking at and be allowed access to the otherwise protected headsprings area.

Picnickers may enjoy a view overlooking the main spring basin and swimming area. Picnic tables, grills, and three covered picnic pavilions (one may be reserved, special fees apply) surround the " bowl" area, a grassy basin sloping down to the headsprings itself. Picnic items must be carried up the long entrance walkway and through the tollbooth in order to reach the picnic area. Larger groups may wish to rent the more private Felburn Pavilion, ideal for those wanting a special location for a family reunion, wedding reception or other gathering. Contact the park for details.

Rainbow Springs State Park offers leisurely strolls through shady gardens laced with azaleas, oaks and magnolias. The walkways pass by three man-made waterfalls and a native plant garden. Benches located along the paths offer the visitor an opportunity to rest while enjoying the sounds of birds and flowing water. While every season has much to offer, the February and March bloom of azaleas is a popular time to visit the park. The walkways are a mixture of brick, concrete and asphalt surfaces. While historically unique and offering great views of both river and gardens, the pathways were constructed prior to ADA guidelines and are steep and uneven in places. A native garden, which is a special attraction to butterflies and hummingbirds, lies behind the cultural gardens.

A nature trail winds back behind the gardens through natural oak hammock and sandhill communities. This trail offers both river and phosphate pit overlooks and is approximately 2.5 miles long from the Visitors' Center.

Tubing the Rainbow River is a wonderful experience, but, tubing is not allowed within the headsprings area of the park. The park?s Tube Entrance is located on SW 180th Avenue Road 1.4 miles south of the Campground Entrance. The trip takes about two hours to complete and is a loop system; you start and end your float from the same location. Tube rentals and a shuttle service that takes you upstream two miles are available from our Visitor Service Provider Dragonfly Watersports. For those wanting a longer tube float there is a four hour trip that starts at the K.P. Hole county park. For information about K.P. Hole County Park call the park at 1-352-489-3055. NOTE: K.P. Hole is not associated with Rainbow Springs State Park. The trip that originates at K.P. Hole starts and terminates outside the state park.

Well-behaved dogs are welcome at Rainbow Springs State Park. They must be kept on a 6-foot leash at all times and they are not allowed to enter the water, including headsprings, swim areas, river and ponds. Doggie pot bags are provided in order to keep the park beautiful and safe for everyone.

Pet camping is available in our campground. Florida law requires that pets be vaccinated against rabies. Pets must be confined, leashed, or otherwise under the physical control of a person at all times. Leashes must be hand-held and may not exceed six feet in length. Pets must be well-behaved at all times and must be confined in the owner's camping unit during designated quiet hours (11:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m.). Unconfined pets must be leashed and cannot be left unattended for more than thirty minutes. Pet owners are required to pick up after their pets and properly dispose of all pet droppings in trash receptacles. Pets considered a nuisance are not allowed to remain in the park.

From I-75, exit at the second Ocala exit onto State Road 40. Take State Road 40, west. Drive until it dead-ends at U.S. 41. Turn left, the park entrance is on the left-hand side of the road. From Tampa, take U.S. 41, north. Drive through the town of Dunnellon. The Headsprings Entrance is located on the right-hand side of the road, approximately 2.5 miles north of Dunnellon. From areas in the northwest, take U.S. 41 to the town of Williston. After passing through Williston, you will come to a traffic light where State Road 40 has come to a dead-end. Go through this light; the Headsprings Entrance is on the left-hand side of the road. The Campground Entrance is separate from the headsprings day use area and is located 2.5 miles north of C.R. 484 off of S.W. 180th Avenue Road or 2.5 miles south of Highway 40 off of S.W. 180th Avenue Road.