Rainbow Road is the name of the last racecourse of the Special Cup in each of the Mario Kart games. As the name suggests, these tracks are made of multi-colored tilesets that are either one color or change their color as racers pass by them, depending the game they appear. They are suspended in the starry night sky in outer space. Most contain few or no rails, putting racers at risk of falling, and each Rainbow Road also contains its unique hazards. Due to these obstacles, Rainbow Road is one of the hardest tracks in each Mario Kart game. Rainbow Road is also usually a long track when compared to other tracks. Outside the Mario Kart series, Rainbow Road has also made some few appearances in other games.
 Mario Kart series
 Super Mario Kart
Rainbow Road made its debut on Super Mario Kart and is a very unique track: this is the only track in the game that is not numbered compared to the others, thus, there is only one Rainbow Road in the whole game. Despite being the finale track of the game, it is relatively short compared to other tracks in the game. It is also the shortest Rainbow Road to date. This Rainbow Road reappered in Mario Kart: Super Circuit alogside all the Super Mario Kart tracks and it was shortened even more, some paths got narrower considerably increasing the risk of falling. Rainbow Road makes its third appearance as the last course of the Lightning Cup in Mario Kart 7, being the first Rainbow Road to reappear as a retro track in another Mario Kart (not including when it, along with all other SNES tracks, appeared in Mario Kart Super Circuit). This Rainbow Road and Luigi Raceway are the only two courses in Mario Kart 7 that do not make use of the gliding or underwater features. Unlike the last appearance or any other Rainbow Road course, this track is short, and is one of the shortest tracks in the game. Despite this, there are three laps instead of five.
Super Mario Kart composer Soyo Oka considers this course's theme one of her favorite compositions.
 Course layout
To begin with, Rainbow Road lacks rails entirely and contains 90-degree turns. Rainbow-colored tiles cover the track's surface, and the yellow tiles conceal Coins and jumping humps. This course features Star Thwomps which can, unlike regular Thwomps, wipe out a racer by touch as well as by crushing, unless the racer activates a Star or a Boo, but they cannot be defeated by a Boo. The track begins with racers taking a turn to the right, there they may find ? Panels to gather items and there are some jumping humps that might represent a hindrance as there is a quartet of Star Thwomps ahead with a very tight space bewteen them for racers to pass but racers can also pass on the sides of the Thwomps; after this, racers turn to the right again where they could get some coins here, followed by another turn to the right, there is once again a path with jumping humps with an icoming turn that might cause racers to fall if they are not careful, after this turn, the track gets narrower and follows a long path where more coins and Thwomps are found along the way with another turn awaiting the player, it is here where the track gets even more narrower increasing the risk of falling, before the final turn, the track bifurcates into two roads, the left side cotains coins while the right side has 2 ? panels, both have a pair of Thwopms near the part these roads merge, alternatively, there is a jumping hump in the middle gap, if any racers use a Mushroom while they're heading it, they can jump over the gap near for a significant shortcut. After the final turn, before the finsh line, there is another quartet of Thwomps, but this time there is no space between them to pass, only the side or when the Thwomps are rising, after this, the track starts over again. In Mario Kart: Super Circuit, the track is virtually the same, just a bit smaller and and narrower, Star Thwomps got removed, which compensate the size of the track and estabilizes the difficulty, the background is a bit different, it is the same to that of this game's original Rainbow Road with the moon, many stars and a large plain witha river in the bottom, the only feature absent from the background is the Paper Mario's Bowser's Castle floating in the sky.
In Mario Kart 7, Rainbow Road underwent a great redesign while keeping the original layout. Unlike Mario Kart Super Circuit, Star Thwomps make a return in the course. The Thwomps are bigger (which actually reduces their number in the track) and now hit the track forming undulations on it, off of which the player can do tricks. Also, metallic grinding noises can be heard when the Thwomps are driven under. Ramps are also added throughout the course, taking the place of the yellow bumps that appeared in Super Mario Kart. Using the ramp in between the junction track is easy, the player has to use the mushroom on the ramp and hop to perform a trick to get a boost across the gap. If the player is in first-person view, the player can see the stars in the background through the breaks in the pixels.
 Mario Kart 64
Unlike its past incarnation, this Rainbow Road is the longest race course in Mario Kart 64 at 2,000 meters and requiring around two minutes per lap, making it the longest in the whole series. The track differs from the other Rainbow Roads in that it has rails throughout the track. The track features a transparent multi-colored path and with star-shaped rails running throughout the course. Neon-light pictures of the eight playable characters, plus a portrait of a Boo and a Mushroom in the distance, float in the void. Moreover, a big three-dimensional smiling star lies in a section of the track. Roving Chain Chomps slide through the course in reverse, tossing into the air any driver who touches them.
 Course layout
The twisting course starts with a huge drop followed by a gentle uphill stretch, passing through a rainbow ring. After the ring, racers behold the flashing neon portraits while run through a pigtail bridge, following then towards another shallower drop. Racers turn around a corkscrew to reach a hairpin bend, and then a twisting stretch to go back to the checked line finally.
Although this track may easily be the easiest Rainbow Road track due to the railings, racers can perform a large shortcut by making a timed hop to the left (or right, during Extra) during the drop at the beginning.
F-Zero X has a track that imitates this Rainbow Road, having the same map of the track, and following it basically. It is described as a "Psychedelic Experience". Parts, though not all of it, are rainbow-colored. Unlike the original, it has no barriers in certain areas, and the neon Mario series decor is missing - instead, it just has a plain black background with a watery blue bottom to which careless drivers may fall. In addition, when racing the track with the 64DD expansion features, the background song is a heavy metal version of the Rainbow Road song heard in Mario Kart 64. There aren't any Chain Chomps, because they are Mario-exclusive.
 Instruction manual description
This course can be described in a word -- LONG, very long. It is simply the longest of all the courses. As the name indicates, the road is made of rainbow and it has a fantastic view of neon sculptures twinkling in the distance. The final course of the Special Cup, it is definitely worth seeing. It is advisable to slow down to avoid the Chomps that will attack.
 Mario Kart: Super Circuit
In Mario Kart: Super Circuit, Rainbow Road has rails at the start line. Edges of the course are lined with jumping humps. Astute racers can use Mushrooms to perform significant shortcuts. The track has falling stars that can make racers spin out and Thunder Clouds that will shrink anyone careless enough to drive under them. Bowser's Castle from Paper Mario can be seen in the background. This game also features the Rainbow Road course from Super Mario Kart without the flashing Thwomps.
 Course layout
The track begins in the only barricade portion of the track, racers first make some turns where there are no rails or bouncing humps and they can snatch some items here, following this there is a straight path with a very sharp turn and the edge with a thunder cloud and a longer straight path where some bouncy stars can spin around racers they come in contact with. There many any sharp turns and curves with more thunder clouds, player may also jump from this curves by using the humps to cut a bit of the track but no so much. After another turn, the track offers two paths two advance: on the left a very narrow path filled with boost pads, on the left a wider path with fewer boost pads, item boxes and some thunder clouds, this boost pads on both sides can be either a benefit and a hindrance as they can be used to perform shortcuts or may cause careless players to fall, there is another sharp turn after this, with the last thunder cloud seen before restarting, on this final portion, players utilize boost pads and the humps to jump twice across the path; after the final jump, players must be careful to prevent falling from the final rail-less turn, finally there is a series of boost pad on the left side of the track before the finish line but using them is merely optional.
 Mario Kart: Double Dash!!
Dash Panels give a boost of speed to the racers in the Mario Kart: Double Dash!! version of Rainbow Road. This version of Rainbow Road also has rails in parts of the course. It features a helix and a pipe that shoots players to the highest point of the track after reaching the very bottom. It also contains giant rainbow floating sculptures of items, and rains stars that racers can pick up. It has the most pearl-like colors of all the Rainbow Roads. Depending if the mode is in split-screen or not, Rainbow Road will take place either over a city or in deep space. The city located below the course could be Mushroom City, according to the design of some of the buildings. When playing in split screen mode, the city and the item sculptures are removed. The final part of the theme music played in the course is a remix of part of the Rainbow Road theme from Mario Kart 64, and reappears in Super Smash Bros. Brawl as an alternative music theme for the Mario Circuit battle stage. In the All-Cup Tour, it is always the final race to compete in.
Despite the fact that there are no visible clouds in the sky, their reflection can be seen on the track surface.
 Course layout
The track begins just before a ramp with a boost panel on it, which sends the player flying into a somewhat straight, downhill section of a track. This part of the track tends to be very bumpy and causes Shells and Eggs to bounce around, which hinders their homing skills. After a slight curve to the right and a straight road, there is a sharp U-turn to the left that leads to a short and straight section, then a U-turn to the right and another straight road, that soon leads into a boost ramp that sends the player flying. The ramp actually leads to a road lower than the previous, both with lengthy boost panels on a straight road that leads the player into a helix with boost panels on it.
The helix spirals upwards to the left. Boost Panels and Item Boxes are present in this helix. The boost panels can help the player speed up, or help the player plummet to their doom until Lakitu saves them. Past the long helix is a bump road that is straight, but then waves near the end of the long straight road. The road is also very bumpy here and shooting stars hit here and become Stars for the player to play around with and mess up the other racer's progress by knocking them over the cliff. Past the wavy road is a curve to the left and a pipe. Any item thrown in the pipe gets destroyed and players are invincible when blasted up the pipe.
At the end of the pipe, the player falls down and hits another boost. The boost sends the player into a long road, also with a lot of small boosts that can help or hinder the player. Stars can also spawn here. After this straight road is a ramp with boost panels on it, and it leads the player to a downwards helix. The downwards helix is sharper and shorter than the previous one, and it leads the player into the finish line again, which starts the cycle again and another lap.
 Official description
 Mario Kart DS
The Rainbow Road of Mario Kart DS is unique to the Mario Kart series as it contains a loop and a corkscrew, the only inversions in a Mario Kart track (excluding halfpipe tricks). Rails border the sides of both inversions to prevent racers from falling off sideways. Those elements may have been added to ensure challenge; players can place items so their opponents can fall off the corkscrew or the loop. However, there are glitches on the corkscrew and the loop. If a player drifts and hits the rail or continues touching the rail it could send the player floating up, putting them off the track (though in rare cases the player may fall onto the corkscrew without being brought back to the correct part of the track). On top of this, this Rainbow Road also has many sharp turns and a helix, not unlike the previous version in Mario Kart: Double Dash!!. Some multi-colored Pipes and Stars appear in space around the track. Additionally, the coloring pattern of this looks different from the previous Rainbow Roads: here, the stripes of color on the track follow along it, instead of crossing the track. Its staff ghost is R.O.B. in the ROB-LGS.
 Course layout
Like almost all Rainbow Roads, this one is in space. The track starts out with three boost pads down a steep drop. There are four item boxes laid out across the track and a spiraling bend to the left while going upward, with four boost pads close to the left edge. In the spiral is a floating pipe, mostly for decoration. In the spiral, it is very easy to fall or be pushed off. There are four more item boxes at the end of another steep drop with the loop close after. The loop is a vertical loop (a simple loop that just goes upside-down once). A steep incline follows the loop. A right turn comes next with a small drop, four more item boxes, and a sharp turn to the left. The drop prevents racers from being able to race the course backwards. After a short, straight road is a U-turn right. The corkscrew is next, with a slight curve to the right, four item boxes, and another U-turn to the left. With the finish line just ahead, the cycle is started again two more times.
 Mario Kart Wii
The Rainbow Road of Mario Kart Wii is a new version of the recurring rainbow-colored track. The track is located over the eastern parts of North America, as well as some parts of Europe, Africa, and South America. If the player happens to fall off in this track, they will burn up in the atmosphere, no matter if there is a section of the course below them before getting picked up by Lakitu. This course has a Super Mario Galaxy theme to it, and it even includes floating Star Bits (which appear if the player has a save file of the game) and a part of a Super Mario Galaxy musical piece, Good Egg Galaxy's background music. A large galaxy can be seen on the background, plus sunlight on the Earth's surface. This course is also Rosalina's expert staff ghost and normal staff ghost course.
 Course layout
The course begins on a near 90 degree slope, located after the starting line. Light drivers are easy to push off in this area, since there are no walls that can help the player from falling off. Three boost panels are present in this slope. One stretches across the road while the other two are spread apart from each other, such as one being on the right while the other boost panel is on the left, (depending on the mode of the race). After the slope is a ramp with a boost panel in it and a sharp turn left. Any vehicle that performs a trick has a risk of falling off on the right end; the worse the drift/handling rating, the more likely the player will fall off.
After the first curve are three more boost panels that stretch across the road and a half-pipe ramp on the very right, plus a turn left. The half-pipe contains floating item boxes for the player to use. After the left turn is a slightly wavy road, which the player may perform tricks on. Each lap, the road gets wavier, allowing for more tricks to be performed. After the wavy part is a ramp with a boost panel on it, for the player to speed up and perform a trick. The player will then see two giant holes that make a shape of the number eight. These holes will cause the player to fall. Half-pipe ramps are located to the left and right of these holes, and the player may perform a trick on the edges of these holes, since the edges of these holes contains small ramps. Both holes contain half-pipe ramps, but the latter one doesn't have any item boxes on top of it.
After this area is a turn left, then a curve right that has item boxes lying across the road. After the item boxes is a Launch Star , which will lead the player at very high speeds to the other part of the course. When the player gets out of the Launch Star, there is a very minor twist in the road and a half-pipe ramp that leads into another section of the track, making a broad turn right for the player. After this particular ramp are two roads, which split and then merge later on in the track. Both will make the player end up in the same area, but one to the right is more elevated than the other and has boost pads in different locations. Both will lead to a ramp with two boost panels on it, with floating item boxes. Past the ramp is where the road merges again. This part has more boost panels with a sharp curve to the left and to the right. The boost panels may give the player an edge or throw the player off course and off the track. Past this area is the finish line, which starts the track over for another lap. It is the longest Nitro Course, and one of the longest tracks in the game.
 Mario Kart Wii trading card description
The layout of Rainbow Road has changed over the years as it has appeared in a variety of incarnations; the challenge factor has always been high. It's a long track with plenty of opportunities to fall off into space. In Mario Kart Wii, at least one of those opportunities can become a shortcut if you play it right.
The November 2009 second tournament took place at Rainbow Road. Players had to race three laps, while avoiding the Chain Chomps and Incoming Chomps. The players started the race with a set of Triple Mushrooms. The official description stated, "Anticipating their movements and avoiding them is the key to a good score." This could be a reference to the Mario Kart 64 track, as Chain Chomps were present there. The tournament was restricted to karts only.
This tournament was repeated as the first tournament of December 2010, but without restrictions. It was later repeated as the first tournament of December 2010, the second tournament of August 2011, and the first tournament of November 2012, with the karts only restriction intact for the August 2011 tournament.
 Mario Kart 7
Rainbow Road is featured once more in a new incarnation in Mario Kart 7 and is again made up of multi-colored tiles. It also shows planets and rockets in the background. This incarnation of Rainbow Road, along with the tracks Wuhu Loop and Maka Wuhu, only has one lap instead of three. It is divided into three sections/checkpoints to resemble laps, with banners at the end of each section.
Unlike past Rainbow Roads, this incarnation features the player driving on non-rainbow tile surfaces such as the moon and rings of a planet resembling Saturn.
Like in Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, the music on the course contains a remix of Mario Kart 64's Rainbow Road. There are 2 different variations of this new theme. The 1st variation plays while driving on the rainbow tiles, and the 2nd variation plays during the 2nd section when the player is driving on the moon. When the 3rd section is reached, the end of the music, which is the remix of the end of Mario Kart 64's Rainbow Road plays first, instead of the start of the music. If the player turns around and goes back to the moon section after crossing the entrance to the 3rd section, the music will change to the final lap version of the 2nd variation of the theme, but only if the player enters it after hearing the final lap theme after moving onto the third section. The player will not hear the final lap version of the second variation of the theme if they reenter the moon before hearing the final lap version of the original variation, even if they already moved onto the third section.
 Course layout
The track starts of with a short straightaway, following with a sharp turn to the right, then left, going around a planet. Afterward, there are 3 platforms that the drivers drive and jump off each one (similar to area before the temple in DK Jungle). Next, players drive around another planet, but this time spiraling down. The track then comes to one bouncy mushroom, then a sharp right turn. After the turn, players have the opportunity to snatch some item boxes and coins on a waving road (similar to Mario Kart Wii). Section two starts off with a another sharp turn with a glider ramp, which activates the air glider to ride into of the rings of a Saturn-like planet. Players have to dodge holes, but then try to hit some speed boosts. Players then activate their glider again after hitting the glider ramp. Once landing, players take three turns, all loaded with boost pads. Next, there is another wavy road, but this one has holes in it. Once the drivers make it through the wavy road or fall through, players land on the moon, where they need to dodge rolling Chomps, and they can trick off of craters for little boosts. Though there's virtually no water in the moon portion, its low gravity works exactly the same way as driving under water, so sometimes players can fly great distances by just one trick. Section three starts at with some conveyor belts, that give little boosts, then leads into a turning tunnel with a speed pads and a speed pad or glider pad at the end. The track splits into two parts, three, then two. This part is filled with ramps that can be used to go through star rings for extra speed. If players hit a glider pad, they have to dodge asteroids, but try to hit those star rings at the same time. The track ends with a part that increases in altitude, then decrease which leads to one small jump, and to the finish line.
 Mario Hoops 3-on-3
Rainbow Road is the unlockable third dribble race from the "challenges" section in the basketball game Mario Hoops 3-on-3. However, this Rainbow Road floats above the clouds and around a clock tower, and not much of the course is fully seen when playing. Podoboos and Bombs come out of holes similar to Bowser's Castle Court.
 Super Mario Galaxy 2
In Super Mario Galaxy 2, Rainbow Road appears in the Rolling Coaster Galaxy in the mission called the "Rainbow Road Roll", and also a purple coin challenge, but it is very different than in its previous appearances. While it does retain its appearance, it's curved and appears to be made up of rainbow tiles instead of the colors simply being contiguous, much like the Rainbow Road from Super Mario Kart in which the track was also made up of rainbow tiles. Instead of just the Rainbow itself, it also has several platforms shaped both like mushrooms and squares with different colors. Despite taking place in space, this Rainbow Road features a cloudy sky as a background. Along the way, Mario or Luigi must avoid several obstacles like towers and Bob-ombs. Also, the two brothers can earn two Power Stars for finishing the course, one for the normal mission, and another for collecting 100 of the 110 Purple Coins. The music played when riding on Rainbow Road is a remix of the music played on the The Princess's Secret Slide in Super Mario 64.
 Names in other languages