Rainbow Springs has served as an important natural resource for humans and animals for many years. At one time, mastodon and mammoth fossils were found in the Rainbow River, along with relics of the American Indians who used the river for transportation and fishing. Much later, in the early 20th century, men began mining the surrounding area for phosphate. The new industry brought a boom and the towns of Juliette and Dunnellon were founded. Juliette, once located on what is now park property, no longer exists, but Dunnellon continues to be an active community, welcoming visitors to enjoy area gems such as Rainbow Springs State Park.
The privately owned Rainbow Springs attraction opened in the 1930s, joining the ranks of family oriented venues that were bringing a great deal of tourism to Florida. The major highways in the state at the time were U.S. 1 on the east coast, U.S. 41/441/27 through the center of the state and U.S. 19 on the west coast. Attractions were often built along these highways and capitalized on the natural beauty of Florida, especially its springs. Before the building of the attraction, the Rainbow River was known at different times as Wekiwa Creek or Blue Run. ‘Rainbow River’ seemed more marketable and the names of the river and springs were changed to the names they bear today.
Today, the park consists of more than 1,470 acres and has three main entrances. The main park entrance is still on U.S. 41 and at the headsprings of the Rainbow River. The campground and tubing entrance are about seven miles away, by car. Both of these areas have new facilities and open up new recreational opportunities for park visitors. Stop for a visit and experience the Real Florida at Rainbow Springs State Park.