Rainbow Springs State Park
|The walking trail at the campsite|
After breaking out the shrimp and the cocktail sauce, which served as a great appetizer, we had our traditional first dinner, spaghetti. Then we took a stroll to one of the prettiest, clear rivers in Florida, the Rainbow River, just a few hundred yards beyond the office/gift-shop. The evening air was cool, clear and mosquito free. A pleasant, Florida stroll.
There is a small swimming area here, and an aluminum ramp used to launch both paddlers and tubers who flow downstream two miles to the takeout point at the first park entrance. The park runs a tram for tubers between the two locations downstream from the head-spring. The main area at the head-spring has a much bigger swimming area and many more canoes and kayaks for rent.
You are given two windshield passes when you check in. The one is for your windshield at the campground and the other is for the main park entrance at the head-spring which normally costs two dollars.
|An otter climbs up a tree branch while a cormorant watches warily|
The walk from the parking lot to the entrance is a taste of the beauty of the park. Once inside the park you have two choices: To the right leads downhill to the swimming and paddling area, the other side to the once commercially-maintained gardens and forest. The head-spring area for swimmers and paddlers who flock to the 72 degree spring, especially on weekends, is very popular. I highly recommend visiting during the week, if at all possible. The forest trail has a low, wide paved path to the waterfalls, and a higher return path back to the gift shop. The gift shop, incidentally, doesn't open until 11:30am, and closes again at 4:30pm, so don't count on buying batteries if you get there too early.
|Swimming area at the Main park|
Next Up: Oleno State Park at:
More information about the Rainbow Springs State Park can be found at the official web site at:
3 The $18,000 required for repairs was stricken from the State Park Budget by the 2011 Florida legislature.