Strictly speaking, Cow Spring is not a spring at all, but rather an in-line sinkhole. This provides divers access to an underground river that surfaces for the last time at nearby Running Spring. Cow Spring is owned by the NSS-CDS. It is open only to CDS members.
In addition to the caves, Cow Spring makes an excellent cavern dive. There are numerous openings, and lots of dramatic lighting effects.
Getting there/checking in
Cow Spring is five minutes east of the entrance to Peacock. Before going to Cow, however, you must:
- Go to the Cow Springs website and complete the online waiver.
Once you your waiver is approved, you will receive a gate code and other instructions.
Diving Cow Spring
From the main cavern, cave divers can travel downstream for approximately 200 m/600 ft in either of two directions. These two downstream legs connect to the two primary resurgences at Running Springs. Explorers such as Woody Jasper and Sheck Exley tried to make the connection; no one has succeeded — or is likely to.
The upstream leg of the cave consists largely of one tunnel. There are, however, a few offshoots. These generally go only a short distance or loop back to the main line.
At approximately 240 m/800 ft into the cave, depths drop from the 21-24 m/70-80 ft range to 30 m/100 ft or more, depending on water levels. This means the likelihood of deco. Fortunately, you start offgassing as soon as you reach the shallower water near the cave entrance. You can also spend your deco time exploring the beautiful caverns.
Because of strong currents, a stretch of passageway from 120-240 m/400-800 ft has what Woody Jasper calls the “poor man’s scooter.” This is a piece of polypropylene line that parallels the main line. It gives divers something to pull on.
Cavern/Intro-level divers are prohibited from diving anything but the downstream side. To help protect the clay banks and other fragile formations, scooters are also prohibited.
In addition to Peacock, Cow is in reasonable proximity to Telford Spring which, unfortunately, is not easy to access. On the opposite side of the river are Lafayette Blue and Convict Springs, the latter being a very advanced sidemount dive.
You may also want to check out nearby Drew Bridge. This 19th-century structure once carried trains across the Suwannee, but could swing out of the way to let steamboats pass. It has long since been abandoned and no one is really sure who owns it.