Friday, October 07, 2011

Rainbow River Kayaking

Crystal River, Florida  -  Crystal Isles Rv Resort

Thursday was the day to get back to Rainbow River for a kayaking trip.

We decided to launch at Kp Hole Park.  It’s located at 9435 sw 190th Avenue, in Dunellon, Florida.

It’s a very nice park on the river, and only costs  $3.00 each to launch, or to just spend the day.

They have nice clean restrooms and a snack bar.  We were warned…no disposable items allowed on the river.  No cans of coke, no napkins, no baggies for sandwiches.  If you want to bring lunch you need non disposable containers.  It’s okay though because the river was pristine!  The fine is $275 plus court costs if you break the law!

There is a boat launch as well as a separate kayak launch.

kayak launch at KP Hole Park

the boat ramp

boat launch at KP Hole Park

Since a lot of people choose to float down the river on inner tubes, there is also a separate tube launch and swim area.


Instead of blowing up your floats (or kayaks) yourself…an air station!


You can rent kayaks or canoes.


There is a very nice place get in and out of the water from your canoe or kayak.

river at KP Hole park

We chose to go to Kp Hole Park to launch because it was the closest to the big spring at the state park.  We learned that on the Rainbow River, there is no “head” spring.  There are hundreds of springs all along the river, but the river does actually start at the State Park where we showed pictures of a few days ago.  Anyway, our goal was to paddle up there. 

We were told on a good day you could paddle upstream to the park in about 40 minutes.  Of course that doesn’t consider our type of paddling.  Paddle a minute, stop to take pictures, paddle, stop for pictures!

We normally paddle upstream.  That way if we paddle until we’re tired, we can always get back home.

We had to fight the current from the many springs and the strong head wind!  We turned left (upstream) and that first hundred yards or so was a killer! 

It was difficult to take a picture because if you stopped paddling you were 50 yards further down stream!  I persevered though and snapped a few pics!

kayak launch at KP Hole Park

The water on the entire 6 miles river is crystal clear.  Sometimes it looks green when there is grass on the bottom.  Visibility is about 150 feet.  There are 400-600 million gallons of water that flow from the underground springs into this river, each day.

You can see the grass is bent from the strong current from all those springs.

grassy bottom

grassy bottom

Sometimes it looks turquoise when the bottom is sandy.






In some areas you could see huge boulders on the bottom.


Some areas looked like it was concrete slaps that were all cracked into huge rectangular shapes.




There are beautiful houses on the river.  Most sit on huge lots overlooking the river.  It’s different than the Weeki Wachee River (another of our favorites) though because the houses are huge and very nice.  On the Weeki there are a lot of week-end cabins many painted with pictures of fish and manatee.  Some of them a bit tacky.








We didn’t see any gators, but there were lots of turtles.  Often you could see them swimming underwater.





Anhinga - Devil Bird

We paddled past the campground part of Rainbow Springs State park.  It’s down river and on the opposite side of the river from the head springs area. It looked a lot prettier from the water than from the beach.

We finally got to the main head springs area of the state park.


It was a struggle due to the strong currents and wind, but we finally made it.  From the sign it was still a good distance to the big spring.






The next pictures are the same area where I took the picture of the kayaks that appeared to be sitting on air.

kayak launch at Rainbow Springs sp



The main spring area was actually prettier from land than by water.  I guess because we were up on a hill looking down towards it.


We saw two black things swimming in the swimming area.  We think they were some sort of small ray’s.



It started getting cloudy, dark and a windy.  We were afraid we were going to get caught in a storm.  We started to paddle hard for a few minutes and head towards home.  Fortunately the it cleared up and we didn’t get any storms.   The paddle down stream was much easier since we going with the current and mostly with the wind.


It was a very nice trip, even though we had to work much too hard!

We Today (Friday) is going to be more restful.  We’ve been paddling pretty hard all week and need a lazy day.

There is the potential of a tropical storm forming in the Gulf so we’re having to watch that.  Hurricane season lasts until the end of November, so we have a few more weeks to go.


  1. Your pictures are so beautiful. But my arms hurt just thinking about you guys paddling upstream against the wind. You're entitled to a day of rest.

  2. I noticed in the pictures that Al is not wearing a life vest. Are you not required to do so?

    Beautiful river for sure!

  3. That water is beautiful! Love the new banner picture-forgot to mention that yesterday.

  4. Wow, That place looks fabulous. I can feel the warmth and the cleaness of the water and area. I would love to visit there. Thanks.

  5. Judy
    We both have life vests with is in the kayaks. You are required to have one, but not to wear one.

  6. Gorgeous photos ~ Rainbow Rives is one of our favorite rivers to canoe/tube down... It is so pristine!
    Have fun & Travel safe

  7. You did the exact same trip that we did last October. Great put in. We too paddled up stream and were mighty tired by the time we got back but it was so beautiful. Your pictures are fabulous. Loved seeing this place we hope to paddle again in January.

  8. What a great looking spot! It's almost enough to make me want to get in a Kayak! Almost!

  9. Beautiful pictures once again. Definitely a good idea to paddle upstream and then take it easy going back. Glad you had a great day out in the kayaks.

    Kevin and Ruth

  10. We paddled from the state park campground up to the main spring area on Mother's Day this year, and it was amazing! Rainbow River is easily my favorite place to paddle. On your next trip, check out the sunken glass-bottom boat! From the main park, heading downstream, it's at the opening of a little cove about a quarter mile down on the right. I got a great picture of a turtle swimming over it.

  11. What a beautiful place for a paddle, even with a little wind.

    Amazing how clear the water is, nice to see how it is protected.

    A gem of a place for sure!

  12. What a beautiful place for a paddle, even with a little wind.

    Amazing how clear the water is, nice to see how it is protected.

    A gem of a place for sure!

  13. The water there is just beautiful. I love the photos with the low hanging trees, too.

    If there were gators, would they come up to you? I'm glad you didn't see any. :)

    I'd love to have a kayak, but I'm not so good in the water. Sounds like great upper arm exercise.


Please feel free to leave comments. We love to read them! To contact me directly you can send e-mail to