This past weekend, Nicholas and I went back to where this blog all began. Although we were without our favorite two campers, Rob and Allison, we still know how to have an awesome weekend in the woods (well, not technically). Rainbow Springs is a “car camping” destination so don’t expect to be hiking to your campsite or not have access to a clean bathroom with showers because it’s not like that at all.
Rainbow Springs is a great place to visit regardless of age or who is traveling. Camping is a great time for any group to bond over annoying bug bites, spend some quality time around the fire and get out into the wilderness to appreciate its beauty. This trip was planned by Nicholas and his team of co-workers so they could team build. There were a total of seven that actually camped; a few came for the tubing down the river and left.
Before I breakdown all the exciting things we did and the fun time we had, I have to mention something. Make sure you follow the camp ground rules, and no they are not that crazy. You MUST reserve a campsite before arriving so you know you have a place to set up camp. There is a limit to eight guests per campsite and a fee per night (approx $30/night). Check in with the ranger when you get to camp; we arrived late on Friday so we had to call ahead for the gate code and were able to check-in on Saturday morning. During check-in you will get your parking pass (2 per campsite, only one can park at the site) and a map of the campgrounds. The map shows the entrance to the river, tubing entrance and location of the head springs. If we had the map the first time around, we would have known about the head springs, but it wasn’t until our return trip that we discovered them. One last thing to note is that you MUST bring your own firewood. Since this is an established campsite, you can’t drag logs or sticks from the woods because if everyone did, there would be no woods! So stop at your local supermarket or find some firewood locally.
When you pull into the campgrounds there are a few winding roads; your campsite will be on one of the three loops. We ended up at campsite 54 and 55, right next to the welcome center, trading post, and bathrooms. It was a great spot and considering we had two campsites, we were able to spread out; one site was decidedly the main camping area that we would have a fire, dinner and hang out. Each campsite comes equipped with a grill, fire pit, water and electric hookup, and a picnic table. All things you will need!
After unpacking the car and setting up camp, we built a fire to hang out and enjoy some drinks. The rest of Friday night was reserved for relaxing and enjoying each other’s company (with MINIMAL talk of work). We went to bed at a decent hour, knowing that we would be spending part of Saturday TUBING DOWN RAINBOW RIVER.
We woke up early Saturday morning to a delicious breakfast made by our co-campers. We had scrambled eggs with cheese and mushrooms, bacon, and toast. It was the perfect combination to start the day and fuel us for our float down the river.
We blew up our tubes (bought on Amazon for about ten bucks ) and our AMAZING new floatable cooler (the GREATEST INVENTION EVER). Then we were ready to float! When you tube at Rainbow River, be aware of a few important details:
1. Tubing rental facilities are closed from October 1st to March 31st. If you go any time during the “off” season, you can still tube on your own, but must bring your own tube.
2. There is a $5.00 vehicle fee if you choose to park at the rental facilities.
3. The tubing fee, including the tram ride to the entrance point is $10.00/person.
There are a few tubing options for you when looking to float:
You can use the state’s facilities and float for 2 hrs. or 4 hrs. (and exit at the end of the river at the State Rd. 484 bridge take out). We recommend the 2 hr. float, it’s enough time to enjoy yourself and not too long that it becomes a bore. We really like this option, you can get off in 2 hrs. and choose to refloat the same pathway again if you want.
We had a great time with our friends (with help from our cooler) as we floated on down. We made one stop off on the left hand side of the river about 1 hr. and 30 minutes into the float at a pair of trees that have been turned into jumping platforms. It was scary and we had to jump out far so we wouldn’t hit the rocks, but we did it TWICE!
After finishing our float, we headed back to the camp and had lunch. We bbq’d up some burgers and dogs and chilled for the rest of the day (most of which we spent trying to keep our tents dry due to the MASSIVE rain). Once the rains stopped, we started up another fire, played some cornhole and made dinner.
The rest of the weekend, we spent sitting around the fire enjoying s’mores and some story telling. We woke up Sunday morning, packed up our things, and headed to Cracker Barrel for some grub. Overall, the weekend was a success and we had an awesome time camping!
– Nicholas & Ryan