Florida has so many different types of outdoor adventures. One of my favorite adventures to do with my teenage sons, is to go tubing down Rainbow River. This is such a relaxing, fun summer activity! The Rainbow Springs, near Dunellon Florida, form the Rainbow River, which then flows into the Withlacoochee River. The Rainbow River boasts crystal clear water that is a constant 72 degrees. Tubing on the Rainbow River is the perfect way to cool down on a hot summer day.
Tube Rental at Rainbow Springs State Park
There are several facilities where you can rent tubes, kayaks, or paddleboards to use on Rainbow River. But the Rainbow Springs State Park tube rental is my favorite. Rainbow Springs State Park has three entrances: the main headsprings entrance, the campground entrance, and the tube rental entrance. The tube rental entrance is located at: 10830 180th Avenue Road, Dunnellon, FL 34432. There is a $5 entrance fee per vehicle (receipt includes same day entrance at the main headsprings entrance). At the tube rental park, you can rent tubes for $15 a person, which includes the tram ride to the start of your tube trip. You can bring your own tube, however, you will still pay the $15 fee for the shuttle trip. There are restrooms and a water fountain located on site.
What to Bring
Once you are ready to board the tram, there are a few things to consider. You can’t take a lot with you on the tube, so leave behind any items you do not want to keep track of. I learned that a good waterproof bag is a great way to bring my keys, small tube of sunscreen, camera, and phone. I also secure my phone in a waterproof case so I can use it for photos during the trip. Other than that, we leave everything else in the car. You can either wear water shoes, or just brave the hot sidewalk barefoot. (Tip: if you are concerned about losing your keys, for $2 the rental office will hold them for you.) The tram is a short ride towards the campground, where you are dropped off for your one-way tubing trip. Once you exit the tram, there is a large pile of tubes ready for you to choose one and make your way to the river.
Relaxing on the River
It’s an easy launch into the river, and once you get into the water, you are on your way to a relaxing two hour float. The spring fed water is chilly, but it feels perfect on a hot summer day. You can expect to see other tubes, kayaks, paddleboards, and boats out on the river also. It’s a laid back feel, and a great way to see some of the real Florida up close. You can abandon your tube (have a friend keep it close), and take a swim in the river if you need to cool off. Make sure to wear a mask or goggles so you can see some fish swim by.
Jump Into Some Fun!
About two-thirds of the way into your trip, you may notice a lot of tubes crowded over to one side of the river. There is a large tree with a rope that hangs over the water. A lot of the braver adventurers (read: not me) will make their way up the tree and use the rope to swing into the river feet first. My 14 year old was excited to test this out. I made sure to capture it on camera!
Shortly after the rope swing, you will start looking for your tube exit. On the right hand side you’ll see a private home that has a aluminum tiki hut (resembling a Christmas tree shape) on their dock. Once you pass that, make your way all the way to the left of the river. You will see your boardwalk exit. Sometimes the current can be a little strong there, so look for the rope on the left bank of the river. You can grab onto the rope to guide yourself to the boardwalk. Once you exit, it’s a short walk back up to the tube rental office where you can return your tube.
This is an adventure you don’t want to miss! Take a day, bring the kids, and enjoy a few hours on the water. For more information on the tube rental, visit the Rainbow Springs State Park Tube rental website here.
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