Rainbow Springs

Rainbow Springs Zoo Haikyo Ruins

Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/11 ISO 200 1/4th tripod mounted

A recent trip to Rainbow Springs proved to be very fun, and also very fruitful for photography (waterfall, landscapes).  The most unexpected find of the day was a zoo haikyo.  In our excitement to go swim in the cool waters of the spring and escape the monumental Florida heat, we totally missed the posters at the entrance showing the history or the springs.  Now they exist only as a swimming hole and a gift shop.  However, when the springs first opened in 1934 it was an entertainment complex as well, complete with a monorail and the aforementioned zoo!  All of that closed in 1973.  We saw no trace of a monorail, not that we knew to look for one at a time.  The zoo haikyo was baffling to us as well, since we were just walking through the forest looking for the waterfalls, and all of a sudden cages and iron bars.

Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/11 ISO 200 1/4th tripod mountedAt first it was even hard to tell the place was a zoo.  Around a corner a small sign saying this place was a zoo confirmed it.  I do not think many modern zoos construct the cages out of such natural elements like stone as they did in 1934, but then again, not that I frequent zoos as I view them as prisons, but I guess modern zoos have mostly done away with barred cages or confined areas.

Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/11 ISO 200 1/5th tripod mountedThankfully these cages will house no more animals, and have not for a long, long time.  So long in fact that tall trees have sprouted right in front of a former viewing area.  As one often wonders with haikyo, why were these structures even left behind?  Could not the stones walls be used for something else?  Perhaps the owners wanted to preserve the historical heritage of the springs.

Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/8 ISO 200 1/2 tripod mountedBeyond the regular cages, further into the woods, things got a bit creepy, if not scary.  I of course, having an active imagination, believe in monsters, and if it were not for some companions with me to go in first, I do not know if I would have squeezed through the outer fencing and walls to enter the above dark, dilapidated structure.  The 1/2 second exposure makes things look a good bit brighter than they were, and on top of that mosquitoes and horse flies were swarming around.  I tried to sacrifice my body to get some shots, but I did rush nevertheless.  

Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/11 ISO 200 1.6 seconds tripod mountedNow, it is darn useful to explore haikyo when some of your companions are civil engineers!  For example, he told me that the brighter stuff on the ground in the photo above, which kind of looks like light green moss, is actually asbestos!  I really wanted to get a photograph of this, and had to really sacrifice the body as we were swarmed with insects, to get the shot I wanted I had to shorten the tripod to just two feet off the ground, and to expose things the camera need 1.6 seconds, a seeming eternity to hold perfectly still while holding the shutter down and you dare not look down at what is biting your ankles.

Despite all that, it was really fun and definitely a cherry on top of one of my best days back in Florida.  Plus, my civil engineer friend has now caught the haikyo bug and wants to go out exploring more soon.  His wife is also one and has to inspect places deep in the countryside and has found haikyo for us to check out next.  I will wear pants for sure and long sleeves too!

Rainbow Springs Florida Landscapes

Rainbow Springs swimming hole - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/11 ISO 200 1/125thI often think how in the hell did people live in Florida before air conditioning was invented?  I have settled on the answer that never having known air conditioning, people did not know what they were missing and therefore intense heat and humidity was just the way Florida life was.  No doubt though a dip in a watering hole such as Rainbow Springs in Dunnellon, Florida would be refreshing in any century.  

Rainbow Springs green waters - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/11 ISO 200 1/160

The spring is always gushing out fresh water at 72F degrees.  I cannot state how refreshing it is to take the plunge (have to jump in as water is deep everywhere) and escape the intense heat of the day.  We went on Memorial Day, which has to be one of the busiest days of the year for Rainbow Springs, but it never felt too crowded with enough space to swim and to picnic on the grass.  The area is very little developed, preserving the feel of swimming at the source of a river deep in a forest.  

Canoe the Rainbow River - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/11 ISO 200 1/200th -0.67 +/-Kayak and canoe rental services are available right next to the swimming hole.  We rented kayaks, which was no simple affair!  It is quite relaxing to lazily paddle downstream in the clear water hoping to spot a manatee or two.  Warning though, there are some beautiful homes along the river and you will find yourself really wishing you had one of them as at least your vacation home, if not wanting to give up city life altogether for the extreme peace of country riverfront life.

view from the top - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/11 ISO 200 1/30th There is much adventure on land as well too.  There are waterfalls, hills, gardens and even haikyo zoos!  The latter discovery was an exciting cap on what had already been a great day.  

Rainbow Springs State Park Information: 

  • 19158 SW 81st Place Road, Dunnellon, Florida 34432
  • Phone:  352-465-8555
  • $2 entrance fee per person
  • about 2 hours from Tampa
  • dogs on leashes ok! but not in the springs, on kayaks ok
  • official site 

Free Desktop Calendar Wallpaper: Florida Fern Waterfall June 2010

Free desktop calendar wallpaper for June 2010 - Rainbow Springs fern waterfall

Jason Collin Photography is offering the image "Rainbow Springs Fern Waterfall" as a free* desktop wallpaper calendar. If you use it as your desktop wallpaper, please let me know in the comments.







This image was made yesterday on a Memorial Day day trip to beautiful Rainbow Springs near Ocala, Florida.  I had been wanting to make a "cotton candy" waterfall image for awhile, but lacked both the opportunity and the gear (stable tripod) until yesterday.    

* All desktop wallpapers are provided without any technical support.  All images are Copyright Jason Collin Photography, All Rights Reserved.  Removing the watermark by digital alteration or cropping is prohibited.  You are granted a single use, non-exclusive, perpetual license to install this wallpaper on any personal computer personally owned by you. This license grants you the right to use the wallpaper for non-commercial/personal use only. You may not re-sell, distribute, print or otherwise publish the image without the express written consent of the Copyright owner: Jason Collin Photography