Passing by a state park without stopping in for a quick look-around is something that I've just never been able to do. Like a moth to a flame, my vehicle turns in the direction of the park entrance, and in I go. I've been late for a lot of appointments, thanks to the magnetic draw of a state park sign. Maybe there is a support group for people like myself...
Such was the occasion as I traveled through Dunnellon. I crossed the County Road 484 bridge and noticed that the Rainbow River was packed with folks enjoying a beautiful summer day tubing and paddling down its crystal clear waters. I pulled over, got out of my vehicle, and watched in envy as scores of blissful tubers made their way past.
I'll admit that I seriously contemplated offering a sum of money to a passerby in exchange for their tube and taking off down the river with the jeans and buttoned shirt that I was wearing. Not wanting to scare the children with my odd behavior, I decided against the tube trip, got back in my vehicle, and went on my way.
At this point, the damage had been done. I had no choice but to drive out to nearby Rainbow Springs State Park and take a walk around. If you have never been out to Rainbow Springs State Park, take my advice and make it a stop on your way through this part of Florida. You won't be disappointed.
Rainbow Springs State Park is Florida's fourth largest spring, churning out over 450 million gallons of water per day. The park is filled with history and there is evidence that the springs have been used by people for 10,000 years. Now, if that doesn't impress you, I don't know what will!
There's a two-mile nature trail, snack bar, and awesome man-made waterfalls that were built when the area was a privately-owned attraction.
Again, make sure to head out to Dunnellon and spend some time exploring. Rent some tubes (at the Tube Entrance on SW 180TH Ave. Rd.), take a trip down the river, then come back to the day use area by the headsprings and enjoy all that Rainbow Springs State Park has to offer.