Kayaking - Canoeing - Rafting - Fishing - Surfing


Rainbow River, from KP Hole County Park to Dunnellon, Florida USA
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Copyright 2001 Alfonso Vazquez-Cuervo - See Terms of Use

Our Route Summary

  • Submitted by: Steve & Sherri Goldsmith
  • Date Submitted: 5/2001 updated 5/2002
  • Location: Dunnellon, Florida
  • Class: Typically flat water, spring fed river with about a 1 or 2 mph current
  • Distance Paddled: about 5 miles one way
  • Water Level: this spring fed river is typically not affected by low water drought conditions elsewhere
  • Water: fresh, clear
  • Wildlife: otter, anhinga, gar, alligators, ibis, great blue heron, turtles
  • Special Regulations: To reduce litter, no disposable containers are allowed.


  • Directions: Coming from Ocala and north on I-75, exit at Route 40 west to Dunellon. about 16 miles until Route 40 joins Routes 41 and 45 south. Drive about 2 miles (past the entrance to the state park).
    Coming from the south, Exit I-75 onto Route 484 west to Dunnellon. Then take Routes 41 and 45 north.
    Turn east at the sign to KP Hole County Park at SW 99th Place about another 2 miles down the road. Just after crossing the railroad tracks, turn left onto SW 190th Av. Rd. to KP Hole County Park on your right. Extra unpaved parking is on the left of the road opposite the park's paved parking lot.
  • GPS: N 29 degrees 05.217' W 82 degrees 25.705'
  • Fee: $2 per person for boat launch
  • Description: sloped ramp, concrete ramp
  • Parking: unpaved parking across the street if you might return after the park closes or paved parking in the park itself
  • Facilities: restroom, picnic tables, swimming area
  • Handicap Access: paved ramp, paths, and accessible restrooms, tube rentals


  • Directions: Dunellon public boat ramp on the west side of Route 41 about 1/2 mile south of it's intersection with Route 484 (Pennsylvania Avenue) in Dunnellon. On the water, the ramp will be on river right immediately beyond the road bridge over the Rainbow River.
  • GPS: N 29 degrees 02.788' W 82 degrees 27.879'
  • Fee: none
  • Description: cement ramp and adjacent sandy beach
  • Parking: paved parking just up the hill
  • Facilities: picnic area and rest rooms. Restaurants nearby.
  • Handicap Access: ramp

What We Saw

The Rainbow River is fed by Rainbow Springs, a 500 million gallon per day spring that stays in the low 70s year round. It runs into the Withlacoochee River, which then flows into the Gulf of Mexico. The head springs are upriver of the put in at KP Hole at the state park.

Some folks like to float down this section of the crystal clear river from the start at KP Hole County Park. The float takes about 4 hours, while a paddler can complete the trip in a couple of hours or take a more relaxing pace.

Many people also take a mask, snorkel, and fins to explore the clear water. The upper half of this paddle has clear water but it will become more filled with sediment as one nears the takeout.

Chances are good you'll see lots of wildlife. There are several groups of otters on the river, some near KP Hole and some several miles downstream.

Anhingas and turtles like those at left are a common site.

We kayaked by beautiful Cypress trees in the water on both sides. And in this section, we saw a number of large gar in the water.

Most of the trip we paddled by riverfront homes on the right hand side of the river. When buildings appeared on the left also, that was a sign that we were nearing the town of Dunnellon.

There were short side channels and ponds to explore, like the one shown at left.

Just under a mile upstream of the takeout, there was a lake on river right leading under a railroad bridge.

GPS: N 29 degrees 03.299' W 82 degrees 26.770'

You'll continued to the left on the main channel to the takeout.

We passed under the Pennsylvania Avenue bridge, which used to be a takeout but was closed.

Past Pennsylvania Avenue, the Rainbow flows through a remote area of Dunnellon and joins with the Withlacoochee River just upstream of the takeout. There are interesting channels on river left that parallel the main channel. (And you'll also pass the public beach.)