It is a common fact that Florida is hot in the summer but this summer so far the heat to John and I has been almost unbearable. The temperatures have been in the mid to upper 90’s and figure in the high humidity the feels like temperatures have been well into the triple digits. When the summer heats up so does the ocean waters and even a trip to the beach is not very refreshing as the water temperatures at the beach can rise to the upper 80’s to sometimes 90 degrees. The beach water can feel like getting into a warm bathtub and is not much relief from the hot Florida sun. Luckily Florida has a naturally beautiful and refreshing solution allowing us to get outdoors and play even in this steamy environment and that solution is the many natural springs located throughout the state, in fact Florida has more springs than anywhere on the planet.
John and I, looking for relief from the heat and not wanting to be cooped up indoors, jumped in our trusty Subaru and headed to Dunellon to visit Rainbow Springs State Park where the springs keep the water temperature of the Rainbow river at a cool 72 degrees.
A spring is a natural occurring phenomenon and happens when the underground aquifer fills with rain water creating pressure and the pressure of the overflow moves the water upward through the cracks in the earth. These springs create beautiful rivers and great places to swim, canoe, kayak and experience wildlife.
The water at Rainbow Springs is the clearest water I have ever seen and standing on the banks of the Rainbow River I could see fish and other water creatures swimming around on the bottom.
Kayak rentals are available and are a very favorite past time at Rainbow River State park as when we were there all the kayaks had been rented and there was a wait time for new rentals.
The park itself is in a beautiful setting with walking paths that take you through areas of man made waterfalls, a butterfly garden and Florida’s own natural forest beauty. Because it is a spring fed river running through a forest you have the chance to encounter wildlife. Something of note on the subject of wildlife is that you may encounter snakes and alligators as this is a nature attraction and both are common in Florida waters. The general rule is that if you don’t bother them, they won’t bother you.
Rainbow Springs State Park is a great place to spend the day so bring a blanket and a picnic lunch and park yourself under a shady tree but you better go early because as the day heats up the crowds start to build as it is a very popular destination. Swimming in the springs is in a designated area only and there is no life guard on duty so swimming is at your own risk. I should also tell you that the dock at the roped off swimming area can get pretty crowded with people ready to take the cool refreshing plunge and the only floating devices allowed are those colorful noodles.
If you don’t feel like lugging a picnic lunch from the parking lot into the park, there is a concession area where you can purchase drinks and food. Don’t forget to visit the gift shop at the main entrance where you can find some interesting and unique souvenirs to take back home.
Rainbow Springs is located in Dunnellon, Florida, which is 103 miles north of Tampa and 84.8 miles northwest of Orlando. The exact address is 19158 SW 81st Place Road Dunellon, Fl 34432. Rainbow Springs is a state park so admission is very reasonable at only $2.00 per person.
There are also two other facilities at Rainbow Springs state park, one being the campground which is located down the road at 18185 southwest 94th street. The campground has 60 sites and they are set up for RV’s and tent campers. The second facility is the Rainbow River State Park Tube Rentals and the entrance to that is on the east side of the river at 10830 Southwest 180th Avenue Road. Once you have signed in and signed your waiver you will be shuttled 2 1/2 miles upstream where you will start your approximately 2 1/2 hour inter tube journey back to your car. Tubing is not allowed in the main park.
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