"Dreams can't come true without first dreaming...there is no harvest without first sowing seed"
James J Steele

The Rainbow River

The Rainbow River


The Rainbow River is located, in Dunnellon, Fl, about 20 miles southwest of Ocala, in Marion County. The headspring, Rainbow Spring, is a 1st magnitude spring that ranks 4th in the state for volume, discharging 400-600 million gallons of water a day! The spring is composed of numerous vents rather than one single vent. There are many smaller springs along the river, discharging water from numerous caves, crevices and sand boils. The river is 5.7 miles long, flowing into the Withlacoochee River, where its crystal clear water meets the dark tannin water of the Withlacoochee.

The Rainbow River had several names over the years, including Wekiwa Creek, Blue Spring, and Blue Run and in the late 1930s was renamed The Rainbow River. In 1972, the Rainbow River became a Registered Natural Landmark which was followed by becoming an Aquatic Preserve in 1986 and an Outstanding Florida Waterway in 1987.  The river hosts an abundance of wildlife and diverse vegetation. The water clarity is extraordinary!

This river is best enjoyed during the cooler months, as during the warm weather it is totally crowded with tubers…James

Rainbow River Map
Rainbow River Map

Rainbow River Notes…

Icon Launches smBoat Ramp:

N Florida Ave Boat Ramp
N Florida Ave Boat Ramp

The launch for this paddle was at the North Florida Ave Boat Ramp, located in Dunnellon, Fl. 29° 2’46.12″N, 82°27’53.04″W. This was also our take point for this round-trip paddle.

Concrete ramp with parking for 20 vehicles with trailers, and 30+ additional parking spots for vehicles. Launching and staging dock. Restrooms are available.




icon-distance-smDistance: From the launch to the headspring it is 6.5 miles, making for a 13-mile round-trip adventure. Most of the river is a no-wake zone, so plan on anywhere from 3-5 hours on the river depending on stops.


icon-width-depth-smWidths and Depths:

This is an open river with no canopy, measuring 95′ to 200′ wide. The average depth of the river ranges from 8 – 15 feet with the deepest spot at Devil’s Elbow 20 – 25 feet deep, about a 1/2 mile up from K.P.Hole

Additional Notes:

There are several nice ‘coves’ for anchoring. The swimming is awesome in the crystal clear water. As mentioned above, this river gets pretty crowded, so try to get on the river early to secure some of these prime spots. I personally would avoid this river on weekends with a pontoon boat.

icon-current-tidal-smCurrent: 2-3 mph


icon-time-duration-smAverage Boating Speed: Most of the river is idle speed


icon-restrooms-smRest Areas: Can be found at several locations along the river

Please note:

  • Parking for all launches fills very quickly, often by 10:00 am so an early start is wise.
  • Disposable containers (such as cans, plastics, glass, plastic foam, or paper) are not permitted on the River.
  • No Alcohol on the river…( hey we’re pontooners! Be discreet! )
  • The entire Rainbow River is a designated “Idle Speed/No Wake” zone.
  • The main springs are protected. Motorized vessels, anchoring, diving, and fishing are not permitted beyond the marker buoy.

A Rainbow River Photo Gallery

Guides, Maps & Info…

Crystal River | Homosassa River | Intercoastal Waterway | Lake Kerr | Lake Lochloosa | Pellicer Creek | Salt Springs | Santa Fe Lake | Silver Glen Springs | The Cedar Keys | The Ocklawaha River | The St Johns River | The Santa Fe River | The Silver River | The Suwannee River | The Rainbow River | Withlacoochee River

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