Covering 1470 acres of land, Rainbow Springs is a wonderful location, characterized by ornamental gardens, man -waterfalls, and hills. The area is remarkably vast allowing visitors to follow an array of activities from trekking, to water-related activities, to bird watching and camping. In fact, the area has 3 entrances and is a designated National Natural Landmark, Florida Aquatic Preserve, and an Outstanding Florida Water.
Rainbow Springs State Park is ideal for hiking, with multiple paved paths to follow, some of which pass by 3 man-made waterfalls, surrounded by oak trees and nature. Some paths can be a bit challenging and steep. The nature trail is 2. 5 miles long and starts at the visitor center. Bird Watching is another popular activity, particularly when following the Wild Life Rainbow Trail, with woodpeckers, hawks, and owls having been spotted in the area.
The waters of the park are very welcoming, inviting visitors for a cool dip in the waters whose depth ranges from 10 to 18 feet. It is also possible to go snorkeling by renting equipment from the park. There is also a launch for canoes and kayaks, which also can be rented on location, however, life jackets must be worn at all times. Visitors can also give GeoCaching a try, a fun treasure hunt game played by people using GPS devices to get more in touch with the geography of the area.
Headspring is open from 8 am to sunset and the fee is just $2. For overnight stays, the campground is situated nearby, and all sites are equipped with sewage, power, and restrooms. Visitors can also make use of the nearby showers, and laundry and rent accessories for swimming, canoeing, and fishing. Make sure to check the rules of the area because there are strict rules especially since you cannot carry disposable food and beverage packaging. There is an allocated picnic area with tables and grills but they tend to fill up fast. One can also make use of the 4 pavilions for events.
The Rainbow Springs State Park has a long history dating 10,000 years since native Americans visited the area. The river was used as a means of transportation as well as a food source through fishing. Later in the 20 century, the area was sought after as it was mined for Phosphate. It was later in the 1930s that the area became a privately owned theme park. Visitors could even explore the bottom of the lake through a glass-bottom boat ride, on boats that had stairs that went below the waterline for a view of the river bank. Waterfalls were built, and a zoo, rodeo, and gift shop were also added. However, its importance subsided when highways and newer attractions where installed forcing it to close in 1974. It was only in 1990 that it reopened when residents formed the Friends of Rainbow Springs, who lobbied and worked to get the park re opened