DUNNELLON, Fla. - Jumping into a natural spring is one of the best ways to escape the heat of the summer sun in Florida.
With over 700 of them, the state has the largest collection of springs on Earth. From deep within the underground aquifer, eight billion gallons of water flow from these springs each day at a constant 72 degrees.
Many of the springs have been turned into Florida state parks through the years. One of those is Rainbow Springs State Park in Dunnellon.
Rainbow Springs is the fourth largest in the state, gushing out 500 million gallons a day.
"This might be the clearest, cleanest water you may ever see," says Thea Knott, a park services specialist at Rainbow Springs State Park. "I refer to the springs as heaven on Earth."
Like many other springs around Florida, the park service has created a designated swim area at the headsprings. It gives visitors a great place to swim and snorkel while protecting the surrounding ecosystem from too much disturbance.
"This is worth experiencing at least once in your life because it’s a remarkable example of Mother Nature at her finest," offered Knott.
Rainbow Springs State Park is open 365 days a year. However, if you want to visit in the summertime, get there early. The park opens at 8 a.m. and closes the front gate when the parking lot is full.