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Trip report: November 2011

Rainbow River...

Paddling a Popular Spring Run

Rainbow Springs, a first magnitude spring (the fourth-largest in Florida), forms the Rainbow River which winds with an easy current for almost 6 miles to the Withlacoochee River. A designated Outstanding Florida Waterway, the entire river was named as a Registered National Landmark in 1972. (Detailed map and photos below.)

paddle Rainbow River, kayak, canoe

Distance: 6 miles
Location: Marion County (Dunnellon)
Difficulty: Easy
Tidal: No
Launch points: Rainbow Springs State Park (bring wheels!), K.P. Hole County Park, boat ramp at US 41/CR 484 (Dunnellon) (See map)
Nearby points of interest: Ocala, Ocala National Forest

Rainbow River... Comments and Photos

Several other springs feed the river with no runoff tributaries, so the water is crystal clear for viewing the underwater world. Ideal for kayak, canoe, or paddleboard. The popularity of the springs makes for a busy river, especially on warm weekends (watch for tubers). Devil's Elbow, the deepest point, is a popular scuba/diving area.

Paddling on Rainbow River

The launch at the park is 1800 feet from the parking area, requiring portage. A good alternative we used is to launch at KP Hole County Park, about a 1.5 mile paddle to the springs. The park also has restrooms, picnicking, swimming, boat ramp, and rentals.


The abundant wildlife includes alligators, otters, raccoons, deer, and birds such as hawks, owls and water birds.

Rainbow Springs State Park

Rainbow Springs State Park has camping, diving, boating, fishing, picnicking, and nature trails. The Visitor Center has restrooms, snack bar, and gift shop. Originally developed as a tourist attraction, the area around the spring has largely been returned to a natural state though the gardens and waterfalls of the original attraction have been preserved.


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