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.
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.
Hiking trails meander out to old phosphate pits and riverside views.
Explore the park
Between New Port Richey and Crystal River, explore a variety of springs along the Nature Coast that provide splashing fun in summer and manatee watching in winter.
The Sandhill Trail at Rainbow Springs State Park leads hikers into rolling terrain punctuated with ravines created by mining and restored by nature, and offers a new perspective on the Rainbow River
Reserve Campsite Official Website