Rainbow River Tubing – Dunnellon, Florida

After my visit to Wekiva Springs earlier this summer, it made me wonder how many other places like this in Florida I was missing out on. A quick Google search showed that there were a ton of awesome Springs all within a two hour drive from my home-base of Orlando. What made me even more excited was the fact that some of them offered tubing runs!!!

After discovering such amazingness, I made it my mission to explore at least one of the tubing runs in Florida before summers end, so Labor Day weekend it was!

RAINBOW RIVER

The Rainbow River is located in Dunnellon, Florida, about a 1.5 hour drive northwest (90 miles) from Downtown Orlando. It’s a gently winding river that is 5.7 miles long and has an all-year-round water temperature of 72°F (22°C).

We had originally planned to arrive at the Rainbow Springs State Park entrance at 10am and take the two hour tubing run from within the State Park, however, given that it was a holiday weekend, the State Park had already reached maximum capacity and they were not allowing any more cars to enter the parking lot. Poop.

One of the park rangers at the entrance told us that there was an alternative tubing option a little further down the road, however this would be a four hour tubing run instead of our originally planned two hour run. We came here with one mission; to tube, so four hour tubing it will be! What do we want? Tubing! When do we want it? Now! 

Rainbow River Tubing

WHAT? Ever come across a lazy river at a water park or perhaps a hotel pool? That’s exactly what this is, only it’s all natural; tubing down a springs-fed river at a leisurely pace with not a care in the world! Please note, the details provided below are for the four-hour tubing run.

WHERE? Since the Rainbow Springs State Park entrance was not allowing any more guests, we turned ourselves around and drove a couple of minutes up the road and just over the bridge to a place called Swampy’s. To find this place on your GPS, use the address 19773 E Pennsylvania Ave, Dunnellon, FL 34432. There is a free parking lot there as well as a little shack to rent out tubes and kayaks.

WHEN? The tube facilities are open on weekends only starting the first Saturday of April until Memorial Day Weekend. From Memorial Day until Labor Day, the facilities are open seven days a week. After Labor Day weekend, the facilities remain open on weekends only through the month of September. During the months of October through March the facilities are closed.

PARKING?  Free on-site parking is offered at Swampy’s however the parking lot isn’t huge and it will fill up fast.

ADMISSION FEE?  If you bring your own tube, you only have to pay $7 at the little rental booth by Swampy’s to ride the shuttle over to the K.P. Hole and enjoy the four hour tubing run. If you need to rent a tube, then it will cost you $11 for tube hire and the shuttle. This can be paid via cash, debit or credit. One person in your party will also be required to leave a photo ID (and you can drop your keys off here too). You will also need $5 cash per person to pay once the shuttle drops you at the tubing entrance to gain access to the River.

Rainbow River Tubing

A shuttle will take you from Swampy’s and drop you at a place called the K.P. Hole, this is where you pay your $5 admission and begin your adventure. The best part about this is that once your four hour tubing run is complete, you end up right where your car is parked – no waiting around for another shuttle to pick you up! Before you board the shuttle, you are advised to leave all belongings behind. We basically boarded the shuttle with nothing more than our swim wear and flipflops on and our tubes.

The tubes you can rent from them are quite firm compared to the ones we purchased from Publix and brought along. Ro had a hard time getting into hers and provided us with classic quotes such as “I wish my hole was bigger” and “the struggle is real!” haha.

The tubing run itself is extremely pleasant. You move at a very leisurely pace and have no concept of time, distance or how much ground you have covered. There is no indication along the river of “half-way” points or anything of that nature, so unless someone in your party is wearing a water-resistant watch or can tell the time using the sun, you really have no clue what’s happening; but who cares!? You’re in a heavenly floating oasis!

The water is crystal clear, super refreshing and can be nice to dunk into after the sun has been glistening down on you for too long.

Rainbow River Tubing

Rainbow River Tubing

Rainbow River Tubing

Rainbow River Tubing

Rainbow River Tubing

Rainbow River Tubing

FOOD & DRINKS

During the four hour journey down the river, there will be no where for you to stop to purchase food or drinks so I advise taking some with you! You are allowed to bring a cooler, but the cooler will need to be in a tube or some sort of flotation device to stay above the water and not tip. Any food and beverages you bring with you must be in non-disposable bottles and containers to prevent polluting the river.

Alcohol is prohibited on the river and at the Springs, however we saw many people with booze and no one (at least for us) bothered to stop and check what people had in their coolers. It may just have been because Labor Day weekend was insanely busy and they didn’t have time to stop and check everyone, but it would definitely have been easy to sneak through! Wish we thought of this ahead of time. Booooo.

{That water though…}

Rainbow River Tubing

Rainbow River Tubing

Rainbow River Tubing

Rainbow River Tubing

Rainbow River Tubing

Rainbow River Tubing

Rainbow River Tubing

RAINBOW RIVER TUBING TIPS

1. Don’t forget the $5 cash per-person to gain entry onto the river.

2. Don’t forget to place your food and drink into non-disposable bottles and containers.

3. Sunscreen! You are in direct sunlight for four hours with no where to seek shelter. If you don’t slip, slop, slap, you will regret it!

4. Wear sunglasses!

5. If you have a waterproof camera, take it with you. My GoPro came along for the ride 🙂

6. Probably the most important, if you are tubing with a group of friends, you will want to take rope to tie your tubes together, otherwise your party will separate quite easily as a result of the current.

7. Pam had the great idea of using the rope to strap our flip flops to our tube; so clever!

 

Rainbow River Tubing
Rainbow River Tubing
Rainbow River Tubing

?>