Last year in August, I wrote a post on Devil’s Den. When we took the trip to Devil’s Den, we had actually gone to Rainbow River first. May 29th, one cool early morning, we got in our car and drove up to Dunnellon, FL. (where the river is located) to see what the hype was all about.
When we arrived, Sal and I were really excited because this place looked nothing like South Florida. It had big beautiful trees that THANK GOD looked Nothing like palm trees! I felt isolated from the “real world”. It was gorgeous!
When we first arrived, we had made plans to go tubbing down the river. As we drove into the city of Dunnellon, we saw signs everywhere with prices on tubbing, kayaking, or canoeing. We picked one, parked, took what we were ok with getting wet, paid, grabbed a tube, got on the trolly, and they drove us to the beginning of the river. We walked out to the water, got in our tube, and let the current take us downstream. It’s like a natural lazy river.
It was very calming, very relaxing. Some people brought their own floats. We saw 2 girls that 1 had a pizza, and the other had a doughnut. Some people took a float strong enough to carry a cooler. They took their own drinks and snacks. Other people had waterproof speakers with them. They got to play their own music as they floated downstream. It was cool to see other people’s creativity. All we had taken was our GoPro and our snorkel gear in case we wanted to get underwater.
Another thing about the river is that it was VERY COLD! The water is 72 degrees all year round! Although it was a warm day, the water still feels like you volunteered to play the role of Jack in the Titanic! And because of trees, we weren’t exposed to the sun the entire time. Now, I could be exaggerating a little bit. To me it felt like I was freezing because I wasn’t moving around, or trying to get wet. I sat still in my tube the whole time. Some people we’re moving around, jumping into the water from swings and out of trees. I’m sure for them the water felt great.
When we paid to go enjoy this attraction, they told us it was about a 2 hour ride downstream. Because we weren’t in the slightest hurry, we didn’t paddle with our hands to move any faster. The only time we did was to get back to the middle of the river instead of being out near the trees. We didn’t try swimming. We just sort of laid back and relaxed. Because of that, it must of taken us over 3 hours or something before we got out of the river. If I were you, and you’re making plans to go up to Rainbow River, I’d be like one of the smart guys who took their cooler into the water!
After we got out, we were hungry so we stopped to eat at a Sonic. We then decided to go find our hotel so we can drop everything off and possibly shower. We were sitting in the Sonic parking lot as I pulled up the address in my phone, copy and pasted it into Google maps, to realize that the hotel was literally right behind us! Everything is so close to each other; it was perfect.
We stayed at a Comfort Suites. The hotel was great! I assume they had renovated it not that long ago (from when we were there – 2016), but everything looked great on the inside/outside. Our room was clean and spacious. They had a gym there, which we did use, and it was awesome. They’re equipment seemed brand new. We loved it. And we loved that we were right outside all the activities we could do at Rainbow River. They also provided breakfast in the morning, which was pretty decent. Everything was clean, and they always made sure there was enough food for everyone.
By the end of that day, Sal and I were tired so we decided to stay in and relax.
The following day was exciting. We had breakfast, grabbed what we needed, and we went out to go find some place where we could rent Kayaks. Once we paid, they took us to where they let you get into the water, and we kayaked upstream. This was the first time I was kayaking, so it was pretty hard. Thankfully we had decided to go in a tandem kayak. As we went upstream, we got ourselves into some beautiful areas behind some trees. I encourage you to go behind the groves and really be adventurous. It’s worth it!
The start of the river is at the Rainbow River Park. Because it was Memorial Day weekend, it was packed with people have picnics and BBQ’s. We “parked” our kayak, and took a walk around. They had some trails where you could walk around and see the nature. I wish I had taken my sneakers and proper trail attire, because then I would have spent more time on the trails. I was in shorts and flip-flops since we were riding the kayak.
When we decided to leave, we went downstream. We kept our eyes open for any opening areas where we could find some more beautiful spots. We did find a turtle hanging out of a branch that was sitting outside the water. We also almost bumped into a hive of black wasps… But it was all exciting and fun. It took FOREVER before we finally made it to the end of the river. Even though we were going with the current, I hadn’t realized the river was that long.
When we finished kayaking, we were not only drained, but very hungry! And to our advantage, where we got off was right in front of a restaurant! It’s called Swampy’s Bar and Grille, and it was Fantastic! We got alligator bites for appetizers, which were delicious. For our entrees, we both got fish, and it tasted fresh and perfect. Sal loves sweet tea, and they had fresh sweet tea, which Sal loved! I’m pretty sure he had about 3 cups of it.
From the restaurant, we returned our kayak, and went back to the hotel to clean up and rest. We we’re absolutely drained from kayaking and the sun! The following day was when we went up to Devil’s Den. If you have any questions about trip, please be free to ask! If you have plans on going, or have gone, let me know what you thought or what you did to enjoy this incredible river.