The Rainbow River

Dunnellon, FL

The Rainbow River is the nicest river I’ve ever visited.  Its’ beautiful water, unspoiled surrounding and swimming appeal make it a top spot in Florida.  I’ve been wanting to explore the Rainbow River for years.  I’m so glad I finally did!

THE SPRING HEAD

The water that flows down the Rainbow River begins at the spring head of Rainbow Springs.  Rainbow Springs is a 1st magnitude spring that has the fourth highest flow of all Florida springs.  Consequently, it produces a water flow of 493 million gallons of water per day!  Water produced by the spring originates from natural rainwater collected from underground caves throughout a 770 square mile area.  The water temperature is 72 degrees, year-round.

THE RIVER

The Rainbow River is roughly five miles long and starts at the spring head and flows south until it meets with the tannic Withlacoochee.  Its’ best characteristic is its’ crystal-clear water combined with an “Old Florida” feel.  As you travel up the river towards the spring head, the water gets clearer and clearer.  The water temperature is 72 degrees year-round and the depth of the river varies from two feet to 20 feet.  Beautiful homes, tucked among the majestic oak trees and cypress trees, line the shoreline. The Rainbow River is one of the most beautiful rivers I’ve ever seen!

RULES ON THE RIVER

For safety and environmental purposes the river has some rules. First, the entire river is designated an “idle speed/no wake” zone.  Second, it’s important to know that all food and beverages must be stored in non-disposable containers (i.e. Tupperware, Yeti, etc.).  Finally, alcohol is not allowed, however, if you’d like a drink you can check out Swampy’s Bar & Grill.  It is a great place and has dockage directly on the river.  For more info about the river rules click HERE.

NAVIGATING THE RIVER

After launching at the Dunnellon Public Boat Ramp, you’ll head up-river.  Initially, you’ll see that the water color is tannic and looks like coffee.  That is because it’s mostly water from the Withlacoochee River.  About a mile into the journey you’ll notice that the river splits. Stay to the left to enter the Rainbow River.  Immediately upon entering the river the water will change and it gets clearer as you travel up-river.  The entire river is an “idle speed” zone so sit back and enjoy the scenery.  It took me roughly two hours to get to the northern most part of the river and a little over half of that to get back.  The biggest thing to watch out for is others enjoying the river.  You’ll share the water with numerous kayakers, SUPs’, tubers and swimmers so stay alert.

ANOTHER AMAZING SPRING TO VISIT BY BOAT

CROWDED DURING SUMMER WEEKENDS

 During the warmer months the river can get crowded — especially, during the weekends.  As a result, it’s best to try and visit the river during the weekdays, if possible.

THESE WATER FLOATS ARE PERFECT FOR THE RAINBOW RIVER

DUNNELLON BOAT RAMP

The Dunnellon Public Boat Ramp is a great ramp to use when accessing the river.  It’s a nice ramp with approximately 20 parking spaces and is free of charge.  I imagine it gets crowded during the weekends but when I visited on a Friday in late September there were only five other trucks there.  In addition, the ramp has nice restrooms and an equally, nice dock for staging. You can only launch one boat at a time and you have to park up the hill.  As a result, it can take a bit longer to launch.

KP HOLE BOAT RAMP

Another boat ramp is the one located at “KP Hole”.  KP Hole is located close to the spring head and is the best place to launch a canoe, kayak or SUP in my opinion. It’s also a great place to launch a small boat.  Even though I didn’t use it, I found out that any boat on a single-axle trailer can launch there.  As a result, KP Hole is ideal for small boats like a Carolina Skiff, Boston Whaler Sport or Montauk, or a skiff like a Maverick or Hewes.  There aren’t a lot of parking spaces but they’ll “accommodate everyone” according to them.  The cost is $20 to use the ramp.

WATCH THE FULL VIDEO OF MY DAY ON THE RAINBOW RIVER

CANOES, KAYAKS AND PONTOON BOAT RENTALS

The Rainbow River is great for paddle sports. The ideal way to do it is to launch at the spring head or KP Hole and paddle down-stream.  The current is strong and would make for a challenging kayak or SUP paddle if rowing against it.  There are numerous places that offer rentals or you can bring your own.

I utilize the service and benefits of Boat U.S.  They are a great organization that every boater should consider. You should too.  Click HERE to learn more. 

 

BOAT INFO

LAT/LONG:
29.09’74”N 82.43’57”W

SETTING:
Freshwater Spring, Unspoiled, “Old Florida”

SPRING BOTTOM:
Sandy Pockets & Lot’s of Grass Beds 

ANCHORING:
Only in Sandy Areas

BOAT RAMP:

City of Dunnellon Boat Ramp

KP Hole Park

SHOWERS:
No

BATHROOMS:
Yes (at both ramps)

COST TO ENTER RIVER

No Cost for Boaters Launching at City Ramp/ $20 to Launch at KP Hole

ANCHORING

Use Bow Anchor and Powerpole if Necessary

WAVES:
None/Protected

LIFEGUARDS:
No

WATER CLARITY:
Epic

RESTAURANTS NEARBY:
Swampy’s Bar & Grill (with dockage)

NEARBY BOAT-FRIENDLY HOTELS:

Comfort Suites Dunnellon

The Rainbow Rivers Club

Click on the 360 Video below for an immersive look at this location

If using a mobile device use the YouTube app for the optimal experience

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Waterfront Homes & Boats for Rent

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