Bennett Springs – Dec 2014

It’s wintertime in the Midwest, but it’s not looking a lot like Christmas.  With Christmas a few days away and unseasonably warmer temperatures means only one thing….it’s time to go diving at Bennett Springs. 

Everything seemed to fall in place for this last minute trip.  The group that had reservations had a few last minute cancellations so it was time to go diving.  We met up with some great guys that we had been talking with on some of the dive forums and social media sites.  Even though we had never truly met before, it was like we had known each other for years.  Once again proving my theory that there are no strangers amongst divers.

We had the perfect conditions – ambient temp was pushing 60 degrees, no wind, and the flow rate was around 80 cfs creating the perfect conditions to make it down to the bottom of the cavern with 60 foot visibility.  As we dropped under the surface and saw the aqua blue landscape it reminded me of the blue waters of the Caribbean.  So much,  I immediately forgot that I was diving in 58-degree water.  

As we made our way through the gravel areas we quickly found what we were looking for – the entrance to the cavern.  Our host for the day greeted us at the entrance – many trout simply hanging out.  We entered the cavern and slowly descended down to the 80-foot mark.  Every year that we come here the cavern changes a little.  This year we noticed that the restriction at the end of the cavern has virtually blown out and is a lot wider.  Peering through this we could see what has been named the popcorn room due to the flow lifting a spinning the rocks resembling popcorn.  Soon, it was time to make our way back up and turned to make our ascent.  From this point we could see the glowing aqua blue image of the cavern entrance dotted with many of our hosts waiting for our return.  As we swam up we found a Sculpin Fish that has made the cavern his home.  As we got closer and closer to the cavern entrance our hosts seemed more and more interested in what we were doing by making “fly bys” probably to see if we stirred up any lunch for them.  Slowly we made our way back up surfacing between several fishermen enjoying the day trying to catch some of our hosts. 

Once again, another great dive and adventure at Bennett Springs.

 

Want to do this dive?

Bennett Springs State Park is located in Central Missouri approximately 20 miles NW of Lebannon, MO.  The park only allows diving during the catch and release season for trout which is from November 1st through the end of February.  (Trout Season opens March 1st)  The park only allows 6 divers a day to dive the spring and you do have to make reservations by calling Diane at 1-417-532-4338 or email bennett.spring.nature.center@dnr.mo.gov  Divers do have to present a C-Card and Diane will make a copy of your C-Card and Drivers License.  You do not have to be Cavern Certified.  When you arrive at the park you have to check in at the Nature Center (Not visitors center) and when you are done diving you have to checkout.  The park does require surface support.  Basically, somebody has to be on the surface and near the spring when divers are in the water.  This person does not have to be diver.  Finally, there is no charge for diving.


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