| December 20, 2015 |
Two weekends ago, I was feeling the need for a solo adventure in Florida. I’ve experienced a different degree of comfort in South Florida, where daily life was feeling a little monotonous, and I was craving something new. I also needed some time to think and decompress. Thus, I took a 4.5 hour road trip to Gainesville with the following missions:
- Get lost in nature
- Café surfing, trying various coffees and atmospheres
- Reading, writing, connecting
On my ride back from downtown Gainesville, I decided to spend Sunday at Rainbow Springs in Dunnellon.
I’ve seen photos of the various natural springs in northern Florida, and have been intrigued by their beauty. The crystal clear springs maintain a temperature of 72-degree year-round. They offer a perfect setting for kayaking, swimming, and snorkeling with up to 100 feet of visibility.
I decided upon Rainbow Springs for my ride home in order to break up the drive. I left Gainesville around 12pm after a cup of coffee and stop at Payne’s Prairie, arriving at the springs around 1pm. I parked for free and walked toward the visitor center, where I paid $2 to enter the park. I was greeted by an array of workers happily lying down Christmas decorations around the grounds and patio. Then, I looked past the palm trees and paved paths to see the most beautiful water:
Wow. Just wow. Despite the occasional (relatively constant) cloud coverage, the water was always immaculately turquoise blue. I think my jaw literally dropped in awe. I’ve never been presented with such a sight! As I walked along the meandering path toward the swimming dock, I noticed the water’s clarity.
I put on my scuba mask and dipped into the roped-off swimming section to enjoy the cool water, which felt incredibly rejuvenating. Fish of different sizes circled the floor of the spring, about 15-feet deep. Being a freshwater environment, the water felt entirely different. I drifted about for over a half hour, doing a few laps, and chatting with other swimmers.
After enjoying the expansive, other-worldly spring waters, I was directed by a fellow swimmer to walk further on a trail to find waterfalls. It suddenly seemed as if I were in the Amazon jungle, surrounded by lush leaves, moss, and waterways.
I was completely enraptured by the beauty of this place, and lingered for quite some time beneath each fall and waterway. I lost track of all time, and was deeply touched by Mother Nature’s art. I even found my way to the Butterfly Garden, where various butterfly-friendly flowers attract fluttering insects. Though I only met one on my visit, it was still peaceful and enchanting.
I highly recommend a visit to Rainbow Springs.
Check out Florida State Parks’ website HERE for more information and to plan your visit!
In every walk with nature, one receives more than he seeks.