A place of beauty that morphed from phosphate pits to botanical attraction over the course of a century, Rainbow Springs State Park is a park with many facets.
It cradles one of Florida’s most beautiful first-magnitude springs and the river it creates in a wrap of shady forests and gardens.
Resources for exploring the area
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Trailheads: 29.103296,-82.449937 (main entrance), 29.066457,-82.4195 (tubing entrance), 29.086758,-82.41712 (campground)
Fees: $2 per person. $5 per vehicle plus $10.60 per person at tubing entrance.
Open: 8 AM until sunset daily
Leashed pets welcome, but not in swimming areas. Canoe rentals available.
Campground and tubing entrances are downriver from the park and there is no direct connection on foot between the main portion of the park and the campground or tubing entrance.
The main entrance is on the west side of the Rainbow River north of Dunnellon along US 41, while the campground and tubing entrance are on the east side of the river along SW 180th Ave Rd, north of Dunnellon High School.
About the Park
Sandra’s first visit to Rainbow Springs was in the early 1960s, when it was a popular roadside attraction with submarine-style boats where you could look fish in the face.
Planted and designed in the 1930s, the gardens and dramatic waterfalls made use of rugged terrain left behind from mine tailings from the first open-pit phosphate mines in Florida, circa 1900-1920.
Tourists sought out this magical place until Walt Disney World opened. Abandoned for many years, the park was declared a National Natural Scenic Landmark.
After being threatened by development, it was finally bought by the citizens of Marion County and turned over to the state to become Rainbow Springs State Park.
Today, it’s a paddlers’ and snorkelers’ delight, thanks to its many bubbling springs, and the site of guided dive tours.
This first-magnitude spring creates one of Florida’s loveliest and clearest rivers, which tubers can also enjoy from a put-in at the campground, downstream from the headspring.
In the main part of the park, paved trails ramble up and down the hillsides. Natural surface trails meander out to old phosphate pits and riverside views.
Learn more about Rainbow Springs State Park
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
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The sweep of salt marshes and the salt breeze surround you on a walk through the trail system at Withlacoochee Gulf Preserve, a 413-acre preserve in Yankeetown
Reserve Campsite Official Website