Bumping down the dirt road into deep forest, it’s hard to believe this park is all about diving. But Wes Skiles Peacock Springs State Park -- renamed in honor of Florida’s top underwater photographer, who died while open water diving in 2010 -- is a top international destination for cave divers thanks to its extensively mapped system of underwater tubes: more than six miles of passageways connecting two major springs, six sinkholes, and the Suwannee River.
Location: Live Oak
Fees: $4 per vehicle
Open: 8 AM until sunset daily
Leashed pets welcome
You can’t see the river from the parking area, and indeed, the spring run itself simply vanishes into the ground. Landlubbers have the option of walking marked and unmarked trails through the woods, tracing the trails that divers follow underground; in springtime, colorful wildflowers spice up the scenery. Summer means you can splash in the two springs, and cool off in the run under the shade of ancient cypress trees with knees taller than yours.
Divers have a choice of open water diving in Orange Grove Sink or cave diving -- certified divers only, in teams -- through the maze of passageways. Dive Outpost, an excellent dive shop, is just up the road and can help you find a buddy if you need one.
Explore the park
- Peacock Springs State Park renamed in honor of Wes Skiles - The late Wes Skiles, a High Springs resident whose Karst Productions brought a new dimension to the exploration of natural Florida – underground and underwater – shared with millions through PBS specials, will be honored today at a special ceremony at 11 am at Peacock Springs State Park, near Mayo. One of the little-known projects …
- Springs of the Suwannee River Valley - It's August. It's Florida. Where do you go to cool off? The springs of the Suwannee River Valley. No matter the size, these natural swimming holes are a delight.
- Tip of the Nose - Cypress knees can grow much taller than you think. I was able to measure this particular one at Peacock Springs State Park by standing nose to nose with it.