Rainbow River... Crystal Clear Paddling
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.)
Several other springs feed the river with no runoff tributaries, so the water is crystal clear for viewing the underwater world; abundant wildlife including alligators, otters, raccoons, deer, and birds such as hawks, owls and water birds. The popularity of the springs makes this a busy area, especially on weekends (watch for tubers). Devil's Elbow, the deepest point, is a popular scuba/diving area.
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 preserved0.
The launch at the park is 1800 feet from the parking area, requiring portage. No motor boats or tubing are allowed within 1800 feet of the headspring. KP Hole County Park has restrooms, picnicking, swimming, boat ramp, and rentals.
More information on paddling at Rainbow River (opens in a new window):
Paddling in Florida - Kayak, Canoe
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