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Rocky Mountain Diving

Discussion in 'Rocky Mountain Region' started by boulderjohn, Jan 15, 2005.

  1. boulderjohn

    boulderjohn Technical Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Boulder, CO
    I am starting a new thread that may lead to a Rocky Mountain club or just a repository of information about dive locations, etc.

    First of all, if you are interested in local diving anywhere in America, you can always go to Dive Training Magazine's map of local dive spots: http://www.dtmag.com/dive-usa/divingusa.html. It has little dive flags to identify locations, and when you click on them, you get a description of that site. Unfortunately, you will find no site descriptions behind the flags in Colorado, confirming the prevailing idea that Homestead Crater in Utah and the Blue Hole in New Mexico are the closest places people actually want to dive. (Both have fine writeups at the DT site.)

    I am thinking of two things here.

    1. We can start a Rocky Mountain club here if we have ten people say they are interested.

    2. If not, we can help each other out by writing reviews in this thread of other locations. I am familiar with Carter Lake, and I will write a review later on as a part of this thread. I hope that people with first hand knowledge of Chatfield Reservoir, Aurora Reservoir, Horsetooth Reservoir, and other sites will do the same. I am hoping for more than a name--something with enough objective information so people can make an informed decision about trying it out.
  2. Divedoggie

    Divedoggie Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Ft Collins, CO
    I think all of us snowbound, landlocked, mountain folks, are jonesing for some diving. I just went to the pool and blew bubbles for no reason other than to have the gear on!
    Count me in! :dazzler1:

  3. octotat

    octotat Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Chattanooga, TN
    Count me in. I've dove Chattfield (actually you can't dive Chatfield itself, there is a gravel pond that they allow for diving but it's in the Chattfield State Park), and Carter, but plan to dive more local spots next spring and summer. For the most part, were talking mud bottoms with lots of crayfish. Unfortunately not much to describe. Have to dive Aurora this spring the only "wreck" dive in Colorado with a sunken Cessna. Tried to dive there last year only to be turned away because of the Danskin Triathlon.
  4. Pillow

    Pillow Nassau Grouper

    Hey I will be watching and interested. Up here in Wyoming we have just been diving in Alcova. Some trout walleye and carp. We are interested in some other reservoirs but have only heard a few negative coments. Due to temp and vis most of our dives are less than 40 ft. We have scooters and are starting to more thoroughly look at some of the bottoms. We are very interested in hearing about Colorado water as it seems to warm earlier. I know that there are a lot of divers in Co but I do not know how many take advantage of fresh water. Good luck getting it all together.
  5. boulderjohn

    boulderjohn Technical Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Boulder, CO
    Carter Lake is run by Larimer County, and they have an official web site for it: http://www.co.larimer.co.us/parks/carter.htm. This web site will tell you how to find it and all other pertinent information.

    If you click on the link to the map, you will see where you are allowed to dive. It is in a cove in the Saddle area. Large buoys are set up to keep boat traffic away. Other activities, like fishing, are allowed in that cove.

    Carter Lake is part of an active reservoir complex, so its water level shifts dramatically during the season. By late August or early September, the water level has usually dropped severely, so that it can be a challenge to go out far enough to get below 20 feet of depth before reaching the buoys. That also means that you must cross a wide expanse of mud before reaching the water line. This mud is a form of sticky red clay. If you are going to dive there, make sure you bring large tarps to set your equipment on.

    Visibility is very poor, a few feet at most. In classes like Rescue Diver, where a lot of activity occurs close to shore, the mud gets especially riled up. A mask dropped in two feet of water may require a large search party crawling on hands and knees to find it.

    There is a significant thermocline. The water temperature in the summer is usually around 65 degrees F above that thermocline.

    Individual divers with certification may dive simply by paying the park entry fee. The rangers may check you, though, so be sure to bring your cert card with you. Instructors teaching classes must have additional paperwork and insurance papers on file. These files are maintained in the county offices, and one of their workers compiles a list of acceptable dive groups for instruction. That list is sent to the office at the lake, and if you are not on that list, you cannot dive with students. I was there on a weekend when the ranger told us we could not dive because we are not on the list, even though that was an obvious oversight on their part. We offered to provide our copies of the required paperwork, including the confirmation that we were OK, but that did not matter. We had to be approved and placed on the list by a specific employee of the county, and she did not work on weekends. The fact that this was obviously her error did not matter; only she could correct her own error. Our class of 12 open water students would not be allowed to dive that weekend. Thus, instructors are well advised to make sure everything is in perfect working order before making that trek with a full load of students and equipment.

    Even though the area is closed to boating, make sure you bring enough dive flags so that everyone in your party can be near enough to one througout the dive. Diving rules are very strictly enforced. Rangers will occasionally observe classes to make sure that divers are with buddies at all times and that everyone is close to a dive flag. The typical fine is $100 for each infraction. That means that if 12 students are doing underwater navigation and in doing so they each go too far from the flag, the fine will be $1,200. As the instructor, you will be liable for that payment, which can eat away at your profit margin.

    Other than the cold, poor visibility, mud, and extremely antagonistic and diver-averse attitude of the employees, it is an excellent place to dive and I can't wait to be sent there for my next class. :wink:
  6. Divedoggie

    Divedoggie Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Ft Collins, CO
  7. Bill H

    Bill H Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Denver, Colorado
  8. MtnDiver

    MtnDiver Barracuda

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: Colorado Springs, CO
    Count me in.

    Got my short term diving fix with a quick trip to FLA two weeks ago!
  9. knotical

    knotical perpetual student

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Ka'u
    elevation: approximately 5900 ft.
    A few acres of Aurora Reservoir are reserved for scuba diving and marked by buoys.
    This so-called “Scuba Beach” is widely used by local dive shops, especially for training.
    The sloping muddy bottom gets stirred up during training weekends (all summer) so best visibility (~30 feet) is during the week, or early in the morning, or in the winter.
    Depending on water level < is the drought ending? >, depths can reach 50 feet or so near some marker buoys. It’s deeper toward the dam.
    Water temperatures can reach the low 70s in July/August.
    There is a sunken Cessna with a marker buoy, and a small navigation course.
    Crayfish are common and you might see a few fish (yellow perch, crappie, wipers, etc.) Plants are mostly pondweed and hornwort.

    The only facility near Scuba Beach is a porta-potty; so bring food and drink, sunscreen, hat, windbreaker, etc. A tarpaulin is handy to keep your equipment off the sandy/muddy ground.
    The few picnic tables fill up fast, so consider folding chairs.

    Directions: From 470 and Quincy Avenue, go two miles East on Quincy. Turn right (South) at the sign for Arapahoe Park / Aurora Reservoir.
    If you have $5 in exact change, after 1.2 miles turn left (East) for another 1.2 miles and buy a parking sticker from the honor box. Scuba Beach is Southeast, over the dam, a short hike that can seem long when hauling all your gear.
    If you need change for parking, instead of turning left for the second 1.2 miles, go straight for 0.2 more miles and pay at the manned entry booth. If they aren’t open, continue for another 0.4 miles and turn right. The store / ranger office complex will be on your left after 0.3 miles.

    Groups and dive pros: You can get a key and placard to drive in to Scuba Beach at the manned booth or the store / ranger office for $7 and your driver’s license.
    Booth hours vary. The store hours are 7 – 5 on Saturday and Sunday, and 9 – 5 on weekdays.
    When you get the placard and key, you’ll sign an agreement to such things as only one car on the beach at a time, per placard.
    Night diving takes special arrangement with the Rangers at 690-1286.

    vicinity map
    site map
  10. colo_diver

    colo_diver Dive Shop

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: western colorado
    make it 6......... if you count the western slope

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