Complete Guide to Rainbow Springs Camping

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We’ve heard the folklore of the healing powers of natural springs. Native American tribes especially give testament to this miracle. Arkansas proudly boasts some of the most-visited hot springs in the United States. But have you heard about Rainbow Springs? 

This area in western Florida welcomes visitors worldwide to its lush gardens and natural swimming hole. There’s also Rainbow Springs camping available, where you can easily access all of the activities at Rainbow Springs State Park. Let’s dive in and take a look at this beautiful location.

About Rainbow Springs State Park

Rainbow Springs State Park, located near Dunnellon, Florida, less than two hours north of Tampa,  has a rich history. In 1889, the discovery of phosphate created a mining boom. In the 1960s, long after the mining boom had ended, the area was purchased and turned into a tourist attraction.

The large piles of dirt where the miners had dug for phosphate were perfect places to build waterfalls and create a tropical oasis. However, in 1973 the area closed due to competition with Disney World and the construction of Interstate 75. In 1990, the state of Florida acquired the land to manage as a state park, protecting this jungle-like oasis.

When you visit today, you’ll notice the clear water, which means a paradise for snorkeling. Kayaking, paddleboarding, and tubers also enjoy these beautiful blue waters at Rainbow Springs State Park. 

Pottery and ancient artifacts in the area date back ten thousand years. Some have even discovered mastodon and mammoth fossils. So although the park itself has only been operating for three decades, the land itself dates back to prehistoric times and ancient Native American people.

According to legend, the waters of Rainbow Springs possess healing powers. The water remains 72-degrees year-round. The pool depth reaches 18 ft in some areas. Wildlife enthusiasts, campers, hikers, and paddlers enjoy visiting the 1,470 acres of beautiful gardens and waterfalls while going Rainbow Springs camping.

A drone shot of Rainbow Springs from above showing the clear blue water and green lush trees.

How Much Does It Cost to Visit Rainbow Springs?

The cost to visit the headsprings is $2 per person, but children under six get in free. You may also have additional fees for tubing and shuttle services.

If you visit during the week, you’ll experience less traffic and fewer crowds. It opens at 8:00 a.m. and closes at sunset. However, the entrance will close when the park reaches full capacity. 

Where to Park Your RV Near Rainbow Springs

Rainbow Springs State Park campground accepts reservations. It’s a few miles from the entrance at a separate facility. If you’re interested in Rainbow Springs camping, you’ll want to make reservations far in advance. They begin taking reservations 11 months before arrival.

Man hiking in Florida State Park

Rainbow Springs State Park Campground


About: All sites have full hookups with 20/30/50 amp service. They can accommodate rigs of all sizes. Pets are welcome but can’t visit the swimming area or go inside the buildings. 

You can also find tent-only sites offering water and 110 electric services. It does require a short hike with your gear. You can’t park any cars at tent sites.

Cost: You can make reservations by phone or on the Florida State Parks website. It costs $30/night for a tent or an RV spot.

Pro Tip: Looking for a more budget friendly camping option? Discover What Are The Best Free Camping Spots in Florida.

What Amenities Are Available at the Rainbow Springs Campground?

You can participate in many activities other than going down to the headsprings day-use area. Guests have access to a campground store, bathhouse, laundry facility, picnic shelters, a dump station, and a playground. 

One of the best features of Rainbow Springs camping is the direct access to the river. You can rent canoes and kayaks from the store or swim or fish in the river. You can only fish in the river as the day-use area is an aquatic preserve.

Woman snorkeling in Florida

What Is There to Do in Rainbow Springs?

Although you may enjoy Rainbow Springs camping, you’ll find numerous things to do here. People of all ages and interests can enjoy their visit. Let’s take a closer look at what Rainbow Springs offers outdoor enthusiasts.

Go Swimming

The main attraction is the swimming hole. These beautiful, clear waters remain warm enough to swim all year. And according to folklore, you might just feel better and healthier. 

This natural swimming area is between 10 to 18 ft deep. You can’t use any inflatables, but you can bring life jackets or pool noodles. No lifeguard is on duty.

Rent a Kayak

If you bring your own canoe or kayak, you can enter at the headsprings. However, your walk from your vehicle to the swimming area is about 1,800 ft, so be prepared to carry it. You can’t bring any cars to the launch area. 

If you don’t have your own canoe or kayak, you can rent one. The clear, blue waters and scenic beauty make a day on the water a peaceful and enjoyable experience for all ages.

Husband and wife kayaking in Florida

Tube the Rainbow River

There is a separate entrance for tubers at Rainbow Springs State Park. Since you can’t use inflatables at the swimming hole, tubers will need to enter at Southwest 180th Avenue Road. Although you can swim year-round, tubing is seasonal. 

You can go tubing from Memorial Day to Labor Day, seven days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. But during other times of the year, the days and times vary. Tubing closes from October to March, so make sure to check the website for specific times during your visit. 

Tube rentals cost $20 at the concessionaire, where you will also receive your shuttle service. The shuttles takes you two miles upstream to put in at Rainbow River. The leisurely float lasts about two hours.

Take a Hike

This beautiful area offers more than just a swimming hole or a slow river. The surrounding gardens feature azaleas, oaks, and magnolias. Stop and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature. 

Unfortunately, the trail isn’t handicap accessible. The walkways are brick, concrete, and asphalt, but they include steep inclines and uneven surfaces in some places. 

The shade is welcome on a hot summer day in Florida. Take a rest on benches positioned throughout the trail. You can go to three man-made waterfalls during your time Rainbow Springs camping.

Pro Tip: Come prepared for adventure by learning What They Don’t Tell You About Camping in Florida.

When Is the Best Time to Camp at Rainbow Springs?

Holidays and weekends become extremely busy at Rainbow Springs State Park. If you can visit during the week or in the off-season, you’ll have better luck getting a reservation and avoiding heavy crowds. Remember, the entrance will close if the park reaches full capacity. So if you want to visit during a high-use time, get there early. Even registered campers can’t get in if the park closes.

Rainbow Springs is a beautifully natural and man-made wonder. The lush gardens and blue waters create a tropical oasis that you can enjoy all year. The waterfalls, although man-made, add to this utopia. 

With so much to do and see, it’s no wonder outdoor enthusiasts love visiting Rainbow Springs State Park. Will you be visiting any time soon? If so, mark your calendar and get a head start on your Rainbow Springs camping adventure months in advance.

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