Rainbow Springs is the fourth largest spring in Florida and has existed for more than 10,000 years. My family and I make frequent trips to this park. It is located in Dunnellon of Marion County, right outside the border of Citrus County. Rainbow Springs is lush in gardens and takes you through the park on a shaded, paved trail that is accommodating to people of any age. Snorkeling, swimming, canoeing, hiking, and even parties can be accomplished within Rainbow Springs.
With a measly $2 entry fee to the headsprings, the whole family can enjoy a stroll along beautiful landscaping or a deep soak in the clear and ancient spring.
Rainbow Springs State Park is divided into three basic sections in a 10 mile stretch: the headsprings (which is most often visited), the campground, and the Rainbow River itself.
The Headsprings contains a large swimming area, trails, gardens, waterfalls, and pavilions.
Snorkeling and Swimming is permitted within the designated area at the headsprings. Dive flags are required for snorkelers; however, I’ve never personally seen this reinforced. Unfortunately, you are supposed to stay within the designated area but can swim wherever you want if you leave the headsprings and go down the river elsewhere.
This water is so clear you can easily see to the bottom. And of course, being a spring it’s consistently 72 degrees. The depth ranges from 5′-18′ feet. Most of the water is too deep to stand in. Feel free to bring noodles, flippers, and tubes to keep the little one’s a float.
Three Waterfalls will be discovered along your stroll through the park. These are man-made, but nonetheless, gorgeous sites to see. Surrounding the waterfalls you will find azaleas, magnolias, and oak trees. The gardens feature native plants of Florida that attract beautiful wildlife like butterflies and humming birds.
A Nature Trail, 2.5 miles long, will take you out of the main park for a loop through more natural Florida landscape like oaks, sandhills, phosphate pits, and the river. If you’re planning on walking the trail, bring insect repellent.
Camping is fully hooked up with water and electric. Showers, restrooms, laundry, and a pool are available here. Reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance, which is a great convenience for a planned visit. Many Florida springs and state parks have a policy of first come, first serve. Spaces fill quickly in the busy season.
Canoeing, kayaking, and tubing are accessible from the campground and additional boat ramp areas. You may bring your own or rent.
Swimming, snorkeling, camping, and other exciting outdoor activities can be done with the whole family with a reasonable price at Rainbow Springs State Park.