July 25, 2022 5 min read

Paddle Boarding the Rainbow River

Hammock and a boat dock in Rainbow river

Florida’s Rainbow River provides paddlers with 9 kilometers of crystal clear waters that are ideal for stand up paddling, kayaking, or canoeing. 

The headwaters at Rainbow Springs has also become a popular place for tubing, snorkeling, and diving, so if you’re heading to the area and are in search of a breathtaking SUP experience, we highly recommend this beautiful stretch of water. 

In this article, we’re going to cover everything you’d need to know about paddle boarding the Rainbow River Florida, so all that's left for you to do is to grab your SUP and get going!

Rainbow River Location and Where to Launch

Most people start off their paddles in the Rainbow Springs State Park, which is the headwaters for the Rainbow River. From Rainbow Springs, they paddle downstream to the KP Hole County Park. 

Alternatively, you can choose to paddle upstream from the KP Hole County Park to the Rainbow Springs State Park. Regardless of whether you paddled upstream or downstream, you will still have to paddle back to your original starting point, and the scenery along the way will be the same.

You can find a convenient boat ramp at both parks, which are easy access points into the water.

Rainbow Springs State ParkAddress:

19158 Sw 81St Place Rd

Dunnellon Park, Fl 34432

Marion County

KP Hole County Park Address:

9435 SW 190th Avenue Rd

Dunnellon Park, FL 34432

Marion County

Why is the Rainbow River a Popular SUP Location?

Pristine clear water of Rainbow river

The headwater spring for the Rainbow River is Florida’s fourth-largest spring which produces a beautiful clear swimming area at the Rainbow Springs State Park. The incredible waters don’t just stop there; they remain clear for almost six and a half miles before they reach the Withlacoochee River and merge with murky brown waters.

Although many paddlers simply enjoy the amazing scenery surrounding the Rainbow River, many also come for the wildlife sightings. A huge amount of animal species, both aquatic and land-based, frequent the rivers, such as otters, turtles, alligators, fish, and birds.

In our opinion, being up close and personal from the comfort of your SUP is the best way to take in the river's natural beauty. 

Stand up paddling is always our first choice when it comes to quite literally any body of water, but Rainbow River tubing, canoeing, and kayaking are also increasingly popular, especially during the summer months. Some companies even rent out transparent canoes, which alone indicates how clear the waters really are.

Best Time to Paddle Board on the Rainbow River

Thanks to Florida's year-round warm temperatures paddling on the Rainbow River is great 365 days a year. As with many places, the river sees a huge influx of visitors in the summer months and on weekends.

If you’re heading to the river in one of these peak times, it is best to get there incredibly early; we’re talking even before they officially open because the parking area fills up fast. If you don’t happen to make it on time, there are other parking options, especially if you’re renting boards from one of the many rental companies in the area.

These companies have private car parks where you can leave your car, and they will transport you and your rental board to the water’s edge. 

What to Bring When Paddle Boarding the Rainbow River

Meno inflatable paddle board with accessories

Once you get to the Rainbow River and see its sheer beauty, you most likely won’t want to leave, so it’s important to stock up on everything you’d need for a long day on the river. Here is what to bring when paddle boarding along the Rainbow River:

Essential:

Recommended:

What Not to Bring When Paddle Boarding the Rainbow River

In an effort to keep the water in the Rainbow River as clean as possible, the Rainbow Springs and KP Hole Park have strict rules about what is and isn’t allowed in and around the water. 

What they DON’T allow:

  • Alcohol
  • Disposable containers or water bottles
  • Wrappers (e.g., snack bar wrappers and chip packets)
  • Paper towels
  • Plastic bags

It’s best to unwrap all your snacks and place them in reusable containers. This way, you won’t be bringing any unnecessary trash along with you, and they won’t get taken off of you at the entrance to the parks. 

Facilities Along the Rainbow River

Pristine water of Rainbow river

The Rainbow River and Rainbow Springs have many facilities along the way to help make your day paddling even more enjoyable. 

At KP Hole and the Rainbow Springs State Park, you can find clean restrooms, changing rooms, a launch site, a gift shop, and car parking. 

Where to Rent Paddle Boards near the Rainbow River

One benefit of the Rainbow River being a popular paddling destination is that there are numerous rental shops close by. Many of these companies even offer a shuttle service to get you and your rented board to a launch area on the river. Here are some of the most known rental companies in the area: 

FAQ’S

🏆 Can you paddle board on the Rainbow river?

Paddle boarding on the Rainbow River has become an extremely popular activity, especially in the summer months. Kayaking, canoeing, and tubing are also favored on the river, so it can get particularly crowded on busy days.

When visiting the waters, you can take your own kayak, paddle board, or canoe, or you can rent one from one of the many rental companies in the area. 


👍 How much does it cost to float down the Rainbow river?

If you’re renting a tube, they’re roughly $20, and then you’ll need to pay a $5 state park admission fee. 

All paddlers, regardless of whether you’re bringing your own SUP, kayak, canoe, or tube, have to pay the $5 state park fee before entering. 


🏝️ Can you swim in the Rainbow river?

The Rainbow River has pristine waters that are ideal for swimming. For the best swimming experience, you should head to the first-magnitude spring that pimps out 400 million gallons of water each year. This is one of Florida’s largest springs and is a popular swimming, snorkeling, and diving location.


❓ Can you float down the Rainbow river?

Paddle boarders, kayakers, and tubers can float or paddle down the Rainbow River at their leisure. Rental companies in the area can supply you with the necessary equipment, or you can simply bring your own!

Megan Bryant
Megan Bryant

Based in Bali, her favorite SUP spot is the GILI Islands themselves. Travel is another passion of hers - she dreams to see the entire world one day.


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