Rainbow Springs State Park - Dunnellon, Florida
Rainbow Springs State Park
The crystal clear Florida spring pours out 490 million
gallons of water each day. Once the center of an
amusement park, it is now a Florida state park.
Waterfall at Rainbow Springs
Among the unexpected sights at
Rainbow Springs is a series of
waterfalls left over from amusement
park days.
Rainbow Springs State Park
The head spring feeds the stunning
Rainbow River. A major tributary of
Florida's Withlacoochee River.
Canoe at Rainbow Springs
The spring and its beautiful clear
water are popular for canoing,
kayaking and swimming. It is a
major Florida natural landmark.
Dunnellon, Florida
Head of the Rainbow River
Rainbow Springs, located on U.S. Highway
41 three miles north of Dunnellon, is a first
Florida spring that pours out 490
million gallons of water each day.

The fourth largest such spring in Florida,
Rainbow Springs forms the headwaters of
the short but stunningly beautiful Rainbow
River, a major tributary of the state's historic
Withlacoochee River. A scenic sanctuary,
Rainbow Springs has a history just as
remarkable as its appearance.

Archaeologists believe that humans began
using the spring thousands of years before
Christ. The fresh, clear water was ideal for
fishing and the surrounding forests teemed
with wildlife, making the springs a popular
area for early Native American hunters.

The area around Rainbow Springs played a
major role in the Second Seminole War
(1835-1842). Large groups of Seminole
Indians retreated into an area known as the
Cove of the Withlacoochee, a vast region of
swamps and forests that offered them good
security from enemy attacks. The Cove is
only three miles from the springs. In 1836,
the Battle of Camp Izard took place just a
couple of miles away and both military
patrols and Seminole war parties moved
back and forth through the area for the rest of
the war.

By the early 20th century, the area around the
spring became a major source of phosphate,
often called "white gold." Phosphate mines
sprung up across the vicinity, with miners
using picks and shovels to extract the natural
deposits. Processed phosphate is a very
good fertilizer.

The development of U.S. Highway 41 during
the same years helped bring about a unique
twist in the history of Rainbow Springs. With
tourism becoming a booming industry in
Florida, the springs opened to the public
during the 1930s as a family owned amuse-
ment park. Over time the park grew to offer
"submarine" tours of the main spring,
gardens, waterfalls, a monorail, aviary, zoo
and even a rodeo area.

The amusement park thrived for many years
and at one point was even co-owned by
Holiday Inn. In the end, though, Florida's
interstate highway system doomed Rainbow
Springs and many similar private attractions.
Interstate 75 diverted traffic away from U.S.
41 to other places and the amusement park
closed for good in 1974.

The history of Rainbow Springs, however,
was far from over. Concerned citizens of the
area launched a drive to save the springs
and their voices reached Tallahassee, where
the Governor and Cabinet agreed to buy the
closed amusement park. Redesigned as a
state park, with a commitment to return the
springs to their natural condition, Rainbow
Springs once again opened to the public in

Rainbow Springs State Park now preserves
more than 1,470 acres of beautiful Florida
land. But while much of the area around the
head spring was returned to its natural state,
the park service also preserved some of the
old amusement park because of its role in
interpreting the history of 20th century Florida.
Visitors can still walk through the gardens
and enjoy the waterfalls, all of which survive
from the original attraction. The Friends of
Rainbow Springs do an outstanding job in
their restoration and preservation efforts at
the gardens, which are an easy walk from the
entrance to the springs area.

Although tubing is not allowed at the head
spring, visitors can swim, canoe and kayak in
the crystal clear water. A special tubing
launch area has been established on the
Rainbow River below the springs on SW
180th Avenue Road, near the campgrounds

Rainbow Springs State Park is open 365
days a year from 8 a.m. until sunset. The
tubing entrance is open only from April to
September and closes at 5 each day. Tubers
must be in the park no later than 2:15 p.m. to
give them enough time to complete their float.

The entrance to the head spring is at 19158
SW 81st Place Road, Dunnellon, Florida. The
cost to enter is $2 per person or $5 per
vehicle carrying up to 8 people. Kids under 6
are admitted for free. The tubing fee is $11
per person.

The campground entrance is at 18185 SW
94th Street and the tubing entrance is at
10830 SW 180th Avenue Road.
Please click
here to visit Nature Quest. They are the
concession operator for canoe, kayak and
tube rentals and shuttle services.

Please click here to visit the official state park
site for information on Rainbow Springs
State Park.
Azaleas at Rainbow Springs
The stunning azalea garden is
tended with great care. The
blooms appear each March and
are among the most beautiful in
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Copyright 2010 & 2014 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.

Last Update: July 17, 2014