We made a day stop at Rainbow Springs State Park after leaving Crystal River. We had intended to stop for only an hour or two, but what we found there made us stay the better part of the day!
The Amazing Waters of Rainbow Springs
Rainbow Springs State Park in Florida was amazing! And we almost passed it up. We had some fellow RVers highly recommend it, or else it may have been cut from our itinerary.
Rainbow Springs State Park
We knew it was going to be turquoise water, and that you could swim in it. But seeing the pictures doesn’t even do this place justice.
We walked up to the entrance after parking our fifth wheel in the designated RV parking lot and paid our entry fee. Spring had sprung, and we were surrounded by pink flowers.
We rounded the bend and gaped at the splendor that was Rainbow Springs.
To Swim, or Not To Swim?
It was a sunny day, but it was not warm. The temperature hovered around 60 degrees. We were unsure about whether we would actually go swimming or not (especially after our chilly swim with the manatees the previous day!). But once we saw the water, we were sold. We hurried back to the fifth wheel to change into our swim gear. (We just love how convenient it is having our house on wheels wherever we go!)
The spring water is a constant 72 degrees, meaning that it was actually warmer than the air. Despite this, passersby still thought we were nuts. But that was okay, we had the whole place to ourselves!
One of the staff members, Cathy, took our picture for us!
We had a lot of fun with photography in this gorgeous water. It was clear, clean and beautiful, and unlike anything we had ever experienced before.
An Unexpected Past
Rainbow Springs State Park is pet-friendly. We decided to do a bit of hiking with the dogs after our swim.
The paved pathways took us past beautiful waterfalls to an information board that showed a Rainbow Springs of old that very much surprised us. Private owners previously controlled the spring and surrounding areas. They had operated it as an amusement park! And not just any amusement park, but it was the “Disney” and “Bush Gardens” before they existed. It had rides, vendors, a zoo, a rodeo, and everything else you can think of. The pristine spring hadn’t always been that way, and the waterfalls had been engineered for the pleasure of guests.
We explored the old zoo where the remnants of cages are sinking into the ground and the rodeo arena which has now been turned into a butterfly garden. Several miles of hiking trails wind through the woods and prairie, taking us by old open pit phosphorus mines.
We’ll Be Back
We left Rainbow Springs feeling like we had found a diamond in the rough. A treasure that we’d definitely come back to see again. Perhaps in the summer, when the air is warmer than the water and we seek its crystal waters for refreshment on a hot day!
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