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Rainbow is the perfect name for Dunnellon’s magical, colorful and lively 5.7 mile long spring run. It’s almost hard to believe the crystal clear waters, abundance of wildlife and picturesque views exist here in Marion County. Rainbow Spring is one of 30 Outstanding Florida Springs, an Aquatic Preserve and has one of the largest flows of any Florida Springs. Whether you choose to paddle or tube, Rainbow River and Springs are a great place to take in Florida’s sunshine. If you visit the state park you’ll find a swimming area, gift shop and trails to enjoy. Rainbow River and Springs are a treasure, especially to Dunnellon residents, and the Florida Springs Council works hard to protect this cherished ecosystem.


Our Rainbow Springs Guide will teach you the history of the area, threats to the water and what you can do to protect what you love!  

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Rainbow River Map
History of Rainbow

History of Rainbow River


In the late 1800’s people were attracted to Rainbow Springs and Dunnellon after phosphate was discovered in the area. Once the mines were all exhausted, the area was developed into a tourist attraction. In the 1960s, during Florida’s golden age of tourism, people were encouraged to visit the springs to see waterfalls, animals and Florida’s “jungle oasis.” However, the tourist attraction closed in 1973 and was acquired by the state in 1990. Today, Rainbow Springs is managed and protected as a state park.


Florida Hikes provides detailed, up-to-date and relevant information when planning a visit to Rainbow River and Springs. Aside from visiting the State Park, Rainbow River can also be accessed from KP Hole Park where tube and paddle rentals are available. However, it’s important to recognize the park’s history before visiting. Dwight Porter, a Dunnellon resident, wrote, “The bluff overlooking the Rainbow River that is now K.P. Hole Park has always been the premier location along the banks of the river…The folks at county and city levels could have never envisioned the amount of usage and the profit derived from the tubing industry today.”

Learn more about ways to visit Rainbow Springs at the bottom of this page!

Photographs by Conservation Photographer & FSC Communications Advisory Board Member Linda Wilinski

Threats to Rainbow

Threats to Rainbow

Like many Florida springs, Rainbow is suffering from the impacts of pollution and over-pumping, including the loss of aquatic vegetation and wildlife, reduced river flow and increased algae. Rainbow River's flow has declined about 25% since the 1960's, and nitrate pollution is 7 times above water-quality standards.

The biggest threat to Rainbow: agriculture. 

Agriculture accounts for 54.5% of nitrate pollution at Rainbow.

Other sources of pollution include septic tanks (19.8%),

urban fertilizer (12.8%), atmospheric deposition (11.3%), and 

wastewater treatment facilities (1.5%). 

According to data from the Florida Springs Institute, Rainbow River

also suffers from a decline in flow.  


Source: The Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute.

Background Photograph by Paul Marrafino

Protecting Rainbow

There are laws in place to restore impaired springs, including laws that require state environmental agencies to adopt Basin Management Action Plans (BMAPs) to reduce  nitrate pollution and Minimum Flows and Levels (MFLs) to ensure withdrawals do not leave spring flows too low. However, Florida’s elected and appointed leaders fall short in enforcing these laws leading to the problems we face today.


The Florida Springs Council monitors legislation and regulations to ensure the State is sufficiently protecting our springs and waterways. We are the leading advocate for the Rainbow River, fighting for more protections in court, stopping damaging developments like Westgate Resorts and supporting projects to restore the river and springs.​​


  1. BMAPs - In 2019, Florida Springs Council took the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to court because the BMAPs they produced were destined to fail. Feb. 15, 2023, the court ruled in our favor - We won the case! 

  2. Westgate Resort - Florida Springs Council, Rainbow River Conservation and local volunteers saved 90 acres along the Rainbow River from development. After months of hard work and organizing in 2020, the landowner withdrew plans for a proposed Rainbow River Resort. Now, the land is being placed in conservation. 



  • Respect aquatic vegetation and wildlife

In City Hall and the Capitol

  • Get involved with local land-use decisions

  • Attend local meetings

  • Support Florida Springs Council and Rainbow River Conservation


  • Don’t fertilizer.

    • Runoff from lawn fertilizer is responsible for nearly 300,000 pounds of nitrogen pollution to Rainbow Springs each year. Reducing lawn fertilizer is the cheapest and easiest way to help Rainbow Springs.

  • Turn off your automatic sprinklers.

    • Lawn irrigation is one of the largest and most wasteful water uses, contributing to the 25% decrease in springflow.

  • Plant Florida Friendly Vegetation

    • The best way to reduce fertilizer and water use, while having a beautiful yard, is to plant Florida friendly native landscaping.

Protecting Rainbow
Visiting Rainbow

Visiting Rainbow

  • Florida Hikes -  You can find details about hiking, trail maps and nearby adventures from the Florida Hikes website.

  • Rainbow Springs State Park - The State Park has many experiences and amenities to enjoy while visiting from campgrounds to kayak and canoe launches. Keep in mind the park does have an entrance fee and will close when it reaches capacity. 

  • KP Hole Park - Like the state park, this county park also offers tubing and paddle craft rentals. KP Hole does have an entrance fee. 

  • One way to explore Rainbow River is by booking a guided tour with companies like Ecoventure Tours and Get Up and Go Kayaking, both supporters of the Florida Springs Council. Right now, Florida Springs Council sustaining members can receive a discount for a tour with Ecoventure Tours on the Rainbow River or Silver River in Ocala. Learn more about our sustaining membership below.

  • When visiting Rainbow River, you'll be sure to see some wildlife. Rainbow River and Springs are home to otters, gators, turtles, birds, fish and more! 

Become a FSC Member


We offer two levels of membership: 

  1. FREE Informed Membership - Get the news and updates you need to be an informed springs advocate. 

  2. Sustaining Member - With a monthly donation of $6 or more, sustaining members enable us to focus on our mission, assured of continuous monthly support. As a sustaining member, you will receive:

    • A sticker SUBSCRIPTION - a new sticker about three times per year

    • Discounts from our business partners

    • Springs conservation updates by email

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