Friday, May 13

Friday Finds: Discovering Rainbow Springs State Park

Last weekend, after driving to Palatka, Florida for a wedding and looking at the road map, I really noticed how many State Parks Florida has and I decided I would start feature about "Discovering the State Parks of Florida" for some of my Friday Finds!
So, today I've looked up Rainbow Springs State Park, which is just east of Ocala, Florida, off state highway 41.

All photos shown are from the Parks website
Rainbow Springs State Park's main feature is it's beautiful natural spring for swimming, snorkeling, kayaking & tubing.
You can also picnic and hike. 
A great location for birding plus they offer Guided Butterfly Garden tours on some Saturdays seasonally for $2 a person.

Rainbow Springs also welcomes weddings and they have a special deck over-looking a lovely spring-fed waterfall as a back-drop!
(Visit the Park home page for more details on pricing & reservations.)

Camping is located on the river about 1 1/2 miles downstream from the main from the head spring & day use area in Dunnellon, FL.
(Rainbow Springs Park has strict pet policies regarding leashes & droppings you'll want to read if you have a dog. Also dogs aren't allowed to swim in the water.)

What I found interesting is the history of this particular Park. It hasn't always been a State Park.
In fact, it was privately owned from the 1930's to 1974 and used as a tourist attraction for families featuring a historic garden, 3 waterfalls, a rodeo, a small zoo complex and a monorail called the "Leaf Ride" that would take tourists through the park at tree-top level.
But, with the arrival of the new Interstates, small town attractions such as this got by-passed by car traffic that once favored the state roads and combined with the new attractions in Orlando, people forgot Rainbow Springs. So it was closed and abandoned, it's facilities falling into disrepair.
Then in 1990, as a result of citizens petitioning the state on the behalf of this park, the State of Florida purchased the property, saving the beautiful spring from encroachment, and opened it as a State Park in 1995.
A citizen support group called, the Friends of Rainbow Park, Inc, did much to clear hiking trails & paths and restore the gardens.



So if you enjoy camping, swimming, birding or hiking, you just might want to check out Rainbow Springs State Park!
Be sure to check their "Things's to Do" drop-down menu on the top bar of their home page!
They have geocaching, photo contests & other interesting activities!
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That's today's Find! Have a great weekend!

1 comment:

aesta1 said...

Next time we're in Tampa, we'll try to visit.

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