Ice Cap Creek at Carmen Reservoir

The Ice Cap Creek Day Use Area at Carmen Reservoir is a fun place to play around in a submerged creek bed to practice your drift diving skills.  Since this is an altitude dive, it’s a good place to practice using the altitude dive tables.  The water is usually quite cold but not as cold (usually) as Clear Lake can be at the bottom of Clear Lake’s underwater springs.

old metal pot
We found an old metal pot the last time we were at this dive site.

 

Site Highlights:

There are a couple reasons that SCUBA folks like diving the Ice Cap Creek Day Use Area.  The site has very easy access to get into and out of the water.  You can practice drift diving in the submerged riverbed.  The site is mostly easy to dive making it accessible to even freshly certified open water divers, assuming you have proper altitude diver training.  In short: this is a good site to play around at and practice your skills.  You might also discover some old pots and pans, logging equipment, and other odds and ends tossed into the reservoir.

Nearest Town:

This dive site is pretty remote.  There are very limited services at the resort at Clear Lake.  Otherwise slightly bigger towns within an hour drive are Detroit, Rainbow, and Sisters.  Bigger towns with services are Eugene, Salem, and Bend although they are all more than an hour away.

GPS Coordinates:

44.340039, -122.002339

Special Directions to Site:

The forest road NF-750 gives access to the Ice Cap Creek Day Use Area.  The road is a mile and a half or so south (down river) from the bottom of Clear Lake.  Watch carefully for the signs because it is easy to miss the turn.

Parking:

The last time we were here, there was ample free parking and several locations.  Double check when you arrive to make sure that the parking is still free.  It’s possible the National Forest might turn this into a fee pay site.

 

carmen reservoir ice cap creek
Imagery ©2017 Google, Map data ©2017 Google.
The Ice Cap Creek Day Use Area at Carmen Reservoir is a good place to do some high altitude diving in Oregon. The river coming into the reservoir can be fun to explore.

Site Orientation:

The site is roughly oriented to the cardinal directions (north-south-east-west).  The Ice Cap Creek Day Use Area is at the north end of the site and with the McKenzie River’s sunken channel coming in at the top end of the dive site.  The river channel runs from the northeast to the southwest where it terminates at the dam’s spillway.  Don’t get too close to the spillway structure!  You don’t want to end up downriver of the dam or getting sucked into the water intake.  You can swim up the river channel under the bridge quite a ways.  This makes for a good spot to practice drift diving.

On the east side of the site, we usually use the finger-like jetty structure on the dam to the south and the parking area to the north as our site boundary.  Further to the east is the other dive site at Carmen Reservoir.

On the northwest side of the dive site, the water gets very shallow.  We don’t think there’s much reason to explore that area.

Entrances and Exits:

The two easiest entrances/exits are at the parking areas.  There is a bit of a scramble step or two to get down to the water but it isn’t too bad.

Salt/Fresh:

This is a fresh water dive.

Shore/Boat:

This is a shore dive.

Normal Conditions:

Normally the water is cold and clear.  There is always a current around the sunken river channel.  Boats can occasionally be in the lake so it’s a good idea to fly a dive flag.  Note that this is an altitude dive.

Normal Visibility:

Usually visibility is quite good since the majority of the water is coming almost directly out of Clear Lake.  Expect 20-40 feet of viz depending on how much surface runoff is coming into the lake.  Close to the Ice Cap Creek Day Use Area you can run into silt on the bottom that can be stirred up but as long as you’re near the sunken river channel, any silt that is stirred up clears quickly.

Normal Temperature:

We’ve seen water temperatures in the river channel as cold as 38F and temps away from the channel near the surface as high as 60F depending on the time of the year.

Best Time of Year:

This site is best in the summer and fall.  Once the snow melts enough for the road to open in the spring, the water is usually very cold.  In the winter, you can’t get to the lake because of the snow.

Max Depth:

We once found 60 feet near the dam in the old river channel but most of the site is more in the 20-40 foot range.

Suggested Special Training:

This is an altitude site where you should have altitude diver training.  Open water divers can successfully dive this site as long as you stay away from the dam intake structure.  This is a great place to practice your dive skills and do training.

Difficulty of Dive:

We think this is a pretty easy dive for the most part so we rate it as a beginner skill level site.

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

Unless there are a lot of people parked at the parking areas, you shouldn’t have to walk more than 50 feet.

Surface Swim Length:

No surface swim is needed.

Special Site Notes:

Because of how cold the water here can be, you should make sure your equipment is rated for cold water.  We have had a regulator free flow up at Clear Lake just up the river.  Be sure to remember your training in case you have that situation happen to you.

The dam intake structure can suck you in, chew you up, kill you very dead, and leave a hefty bill for your next of kin to recover your sliced and diced body.  Steer clear of it!

Closest Local Dive Shops to Get Air Fills and SCUBA Gear:

The closest dive shops are located in Bend, Salem, and Eugene.  Each is quite a ways away (1.5+ hours) so you need to be self-sufficient at the Ice Cap Creek Day Use Area.

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

The closest food is up at Clear Lake’s resort where very limited food service is available.  Otherwise, in Detroit, Camp Sherman, and Rainbow (all towns within an hour of the site) you can find a few restaurants.

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

If you want to sleep in a cabin, the resort at Clear Lake does rent cabins to divers.  Be sure to ask when you make your reservation about how you can store your gear.  Otherwise, there are plenty of National Forest campgrounds and lots of primitive camping in the forest.

What Other People Have to Say About This Site:

Please write in the comments below your experiences with this dive site!

East Boat Ramp at Carmen Reservoir

The east boat ramp at Carmen Reservoir is a god place to go practice your navigation skills.  Due to the altitude and it being cold fresh water, there isn’t much in the way of life in the lake aside from some algae and a few fish but the wide space by the boat ramp is a good place to hone skills and practice altitude diving.  The scenery is outstanding and well worth the trip on its own.

Panorama of Carmen Reservoir in Oregon 2009
The east boat ramp at Carmen Reservoir is a picturesque lake in the mountains outside of Eugene.

 

 

 

Site Highlights:

We have used this site as a training site to practice navigation skills.  Whether you’re practicing compass headings, kick cycle counts, trench search patterns, or more advanced navigation, this site is a good place to hone your skill set before going somewhere less forgiving.  The dam is a good representation of Oregon coast jetties and can be used for practice entering and exiting over difficult jetty rocks.  Or if you don’t want to work too hard, you can walk right on on the boat ramp and have a wonderful low stress dive.

Nearest Town:

Bend, Eugene, and Salem are all about equally far away.  There are a few small hamlets in between with limited services.

GPS Coordinates:

44.340262, -121.999272

Special Directions to Site:

Look for National Forest Road 750 (to the west) as you’re going along the Mc Kenzie River Highway.  There are signs for the lake, the day use area further to the west, and the boat ramp.

Parking:

The last time we were here, parking was free and plentiful.  As always, verify that the situation hasn’t changed when you go dive the east boat ramp at Carmen Reservoir.

 

ice cap creek east boat ramp
Imagery ©2017 Google, Map data ©2017 Google.
The Ice Cap Creek east boat ramp is a good place to practice navigation skills.

Site Orientation:

This site is bounded by the dam to the south (it runs east-west), the road and shore to the north, the shore to the east, and a good marker for the western extent of the site is a protrusion of the dam that looks an awful like some of the fingers on the south jetty in Newport.  You don’t want to go further west on the dam past the protrusion of rocks because you will get close to the water exit which is something you don’t want to get sucked into. You would have a very bad day indeed if you went through the business end of the dam.

Entrances and Exits:

The boat ramp itself makes for a very easy entrance.  There is another easy entrance a little to the east and south along the shore that is a simple step down into the water.  Along the road on the north end of the site, you can scramble in/out on the bank if you really have to but there isn’t much reason to do that as long as your navigation skills are up to snuff.  At the far northwestern corner of the site, you can climb out into a parking area that is part of the Ice Cap Creek Day Use Area although you will have a bit of a walk back to your car.  If you want to practice entering and exiting over a jetty structure, the dam on the south side of the dive site gives you that practice.

Salt/Fresh:

This is a fresh water dive.

Shore/Boat:

This is a shore dive.

Normal Conditions:

Conditions during the summer and fall are usually pretty good here.  The constant feed of cold fresh water keeps visibility fairly decent.  Water levels can change rapidly depending on what the dam operator is doing.  There can be boats in this area so it’s a good idea to fly a dive flag.

Normal Visibility:

We usually have between 15 and 30 feet of viz depending on the time of year and how much surface water runoff there is coming into the lake.  The bottom can be stirred up so it’s a good idea to maintain neutral buoyancy.

Normal Temperature:

The water coming in from Ice Cap Spring is very cold.  Near the creek, it can easily be 37F.  In the summers, there can be a thermocline at the surface with a warm layer of water followed by very cold water at depth.

Best Time of Year:

This site is best done in the summer and fall.  In the winter and spring, there is usually too much snow on the ground to access the lake.

Max Depth:

We found 55 feet here once without trying too hard.  We suspect you can hit around 70 feet out in the middle.

Suggested Special Training:

This is an altitude dive.  An open water diver with altitude diver training can dive this site without a problem.

Difficulty of Dive:

Aside from the altitude dive aspect of this site, the east boat ramp at Carmen Reservoir is an easy place to dive.  We have assisted with several training dives here in the past and enjoy this site for its easy access, its relatively benign conditions, and the chance to practice navigation.

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

Depending on how close you can park, you might only need to walk 20 feet to be in the water.

Surface Swim Length:

No surface swim is needed at the east boat ramp at Carmen Reservoir unless you’re bad at navigation and don’t monitor your air supply.

Special Site Notes:

Remember that this is an altitude dive.  Boats can be at this site so it’s a good idea to fly a dive flag.  We usually bring a SCUBA light with us when we dive the east boat ramp at Carmen Reservoir so we can look in all of the little crannies and crevices underwater to search for crayfish and trout.

Closest Local Dive Shops to Get Air Fills and SCUBA Gear:

There aren’t any shops nearby.  You’ll have to go to Eugene, Salem, or Bend to find a dive shop.  You need to be self-sufficient diving this site.

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

There is limited food service at Clear Lake but otherwise there aren’t any restaurants up here.

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

The resort at Clear Lake has some cabins for rent that some of our SCUBA buddies have stayed at before.  Otherwise there is plentiful camping in the national forest both in campgrounds and at primitive sites.

What Other People Have to Say About This Site:

Please write in the comments below your experiences with this dive site!

Shea Viewpoint at Foster Reservoir

If you’re looking for an easily accessible dive site at Foster Reservoir where you can go deep or stay shallow and have a good time, check out Shea Viewpoint.  The topography at this site starts shallow on the right but gets really deep on the left.  This is a good place to do training dives as well.

 

Site Highlights:

This site has a variety of terrain that keeps it interesting for a fresh water reservoir in the Cascades.  We have spent a few afternoons doing training dives here.  One summer the water was so warm in the shallows while we were running a knot skills station, we had to ditch our thermal undergarments, hoods, and gloves, and we were STILL sweating in our suits just sitting on the bottom.  Going deeper, we found chilly 45 degree water.  The thermoclines are real at this site.

Nearest Town:

Sweethome, Oregon is just below the dam.

GPS Coordinates:

44.410477, -122.653649

 

Special Directions to Site:

Just head east on the Santiam Highway out of Sweethome toward Bend.  You’ll find the Shea Viewpoint along the reservoir.

Parking:

Usually there is plenty of parking at Shea Viewpoint.  The last time we went diving here, the parking was free.  Double-check when you arrive that it still is though.

shea viewpoint
Imagery ©2017 Google, Map data ©2017 Google.
Shea Viewpoint is a pretty good dive site on Foster Reservoir. We like this site for its varied underwater terrain and easy entry and exit.

Site Orientation:

This site is pretty easy to navigate.  Shore is to the south.  Shallow water is to the east.  Deep water is to the west and north.  Off the north and west sides of Shaw Viewpoint there is a large underwater sloped boulder field that is fun to explore.  The boulder field keeps going down, down, down.  We never found the bottom because it got too deep for our dive plans.

Entrances and Exits:

There is an easy entrance/exit where we think there used to be a boat ramp at the east side of Shaw Viewpoint.  You can walk right down into the water.

Salt/Fresh:

This is a fresh water dive.

Shore/Boat:

This is a shore dive although you could do a boat dive here, too, if you wanted.

Normal Conditions:

Unless a storm comes up over the lake, the only real issues at this site are boats going by and making wakes.  There can be some pretty big thermoclines here, too.

Normal Visibility:

We’ve had as little as 5 feet of visibility and as much as 40 feet of viz here.  The bottom can be stirred up pretty easily and spring snowmelt can decrease viz.  We’ve found better visibility the deeper we go at this site.

Normal Temperature:

At depth, the temperature is usually around 45F.  At the surface in late summer, it can be in the high 70s or even low 80s near the surface in the shallows.  Early in the spring during peak snowmelt, there can be a layer of 37F water here.

Best Time of Year:

We like diving this site in the late summer to enjoy that warm surface layer of water before going deep into the dark and cold.  Depending on when you dive this site, the water level in Foster Reservoir can be very low which makes for a longer walk to get to the water.

Max Depth:

We’ve been down as far as 95 feet deep here but the bottom keeps going down.  We suspect that you can easily hit 130 feet if you keep heading north and west.

Suggested Special Training:

Open water divers can easily dive the shallower parts of this site.  The deeper parts warrant having advanced open water training and deep diver specialty training.

Difficulty of Dive:

The shallower parts of this site are easy to dive.  The deeper parts of the site become progressively more challenging.

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

Depending on the water level in the reservoir, you might have to walk 100 feet or 500 feet to get to the water’s edge.

Surface Swim Length:

No surface swim is necessary here normally.

Special Site Notes:

We suggest flying a dive flag here because of boat traffic.  We have our favorite dive flag that we use when we go SCUBA diving in Oregon over on our Gear We Use page.

Closest Local Dive Shops to Get Air Fills and SCUBA Gear:

There are dive shops in Eugene and Salem with

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

There are some decent places to eat in Sweethome.  We usually eat at the A&W Drive-In for the nostalgia vibe.

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

There are a few campgrounds nearby and there is primitive camping in the national forest.  We haven’t tried any of the hotels in the area so please let us know if you have a good recommendations.

What Other People Have to Say About This Site:

Please write in the comments below your experiences with this dive site!

Jawbone Flats – Opal Pool

Diving the Opal Pool at Jawbone Flats is a unique experience for Oregon SCUBA divers.  Opal Creek, a tributary of the Little North Fork of the Santiam River, is a gorgeous cascade of water and sparkling lush forest.   The azure waters in the Opal Pool below Opal Pool Falls are inviting in the late summer or early fall.  We have seen many people enjoying a swim here although the water can be chilly.

opal pool
The Opal Pool is a short walk up from Jawbone Flats where you can rent cabins.

Site Highlights:

The main thing we like about this SCUBA dive site is the unique experience of going diving in a gorgeous pool tucked back into the forest far away from the nearest road.  It is a unique and peaceful place to put on dive gear and take a dip.

Underwater the basalt river rocks are mostly smooth and round.  The walls of the pool are all basalt cliffs that add to the drama and beauty of this site.  Someone with a very good camera and some time could make some awesome photos here combining the underwater and the above water beauty of the opal pool at Jawbone Flats.

Nearest Town:

The nearest big city is Salem, Oregon.  The tiny hamlet of Elkhorn is the first thing you will encounter driving down from the Opal Creek Trailhead.  The bigger towns of Mehama and Lyons are a ways further down the road.

GPS Coordinates:

44.844199, -122.206503

Special Directions to Site:

It takes some time to get to Jawbone Flats and the Opal Pool.  First you need to drive to the Opal Creek Trailhead at the end of forest road NF-2209 out of Elkhorn, Oregon.  Then you need to hike up to Jawbone Flats where the Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center is located.  Then you take the trail toward Cedar Flats.   Opal pool is below the bridge not far out of Jawbone Flats.

The whole hike round trip is about seven miles.  Carrying 100lbs of SCUBA gear on your back that distance is infeasible.  There are a couple options though.  You can try talking with the center at Jawbone Flats about having them use their shuttle to bring your gear up to the center and then walk the gear from there.  You can convince a bunch of friends to help you carry in and out your SCUBA gear.  You can also try using a wheeled cart although we aren’t sure if forest regulations allow that.  We personally think staying at Jawbone Flats at the Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center overnight and coordinating with the center to bring your gear in and back out is the best option.

Parking:

You pay to park at the Opal Creek Trailhead.  On popular weekends, the trailhead can be completely full of cars so plan ahead.

opal creek overview
Imagery ©2017 Google, Map data ©2017 Google.
The round trip hike to Opal Pool is a little over seven miles but we think the trip is well worth it for the unique diving experience.
opal creek close up
Imagery ©2017 Google, Map data ©2017 Google.
Once you have hiked up to Jawbone Flats and the Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center, take the trail toward Cedar Flats. Opal Pool isn’t too far away.

Site Orientation:

Opal Pool is down in the creek bed.  The site is so small and the water is so clear that you can’t really get lost here.  Be mindful of other users of the pool.

Entrances and Exits:

It’s a bit of a scramble down to the dive site from the trail but it is manageable.  The rocks can be a bit slippery depending on conditions so watch your footing.

Salt/Fresh:

This is a fresh water dive.

Shore/Boat:

This is a shore dive.

Normal Conditions:

During the summer and fall, the water is usually fairly calm although we have seen quite a few people swimming here on hot weekends.  In the spring during the snow melt, this creek can turn into a raging torrent.  During flood conditions, you will see why it is a bad idea to try diving the site!

Normal Visibility:

Visibility at Opal Pool is usually around 20-30 feet.  You can see the bottom of the deepest part of the pool when you’re floating on the surface.

Normal Temperature:

Water temperature is influenced by recent storms, snow melt, and upstream spring volume.  We have seen it between 40F and 60F depending on conditions although the deepest part of the pool is usually colder.

Best Time of Year:

The best time of the year for making the trek to Jawbone Flats to dive Opal Creek is late summer or early fall.  The water is warmer, the flow is lower, the days are warm, and it is less likely to be rainy and misty.

Max Depth:

We found 30 feet of water at one place in the pool.

Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center
Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center at Jawbone Flats has cabins for rent and very limited food service. Both must be reserved weeks or months in advance.

Suggested Special Training:

This is an altitude dive and you should have the training necessary for altitude diving.  Open water divers can successfully dive this site although just getting to the site is challenging enough that we suggest open water divers go check out other more easily accessible sites.  Down by Eugene there are some good dives that have similar pools to Opal Pool.

Difficulty of Dive:

We rate this as an intermediate dive because of the trek to get to the site and the bit of scramble necessary to get to the water.  Also this is an altitude dive so diving around Jawbone Flats requires a little extra training.

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

It’s about 3.5 miles from the parking lot at the trailhead all the way to the dive site.  Yes, that’s a brutal hike wearing 100lbs of dive gear.  Yes, it’s a bad idea to try to do it completely geared up unless you like heat stroke.

Surface Swim Length:

No surface swims are needed at Opal Pool.

Special Site Notes:

We highly recommend contacting the Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center at Jawbone Flats several weeks or even several months in advance of your visit.  While we have gone diving at this site before and know others who have done it, the staff at Jawbone Flats has changed since then.  We view diving Opal Pool as a privilege rather than a right for SCUBA divers.  Please be polite with the staff and gracious to your hosts.

We suggest renting a cabin at the Center and asking the staff to transport your gear from your car to your cabin.  They did it for us a number of years ago.

It would be worthwhile to investigate what sorts of tasty beverages or recreational activities the staff at the Center enjoy and bringing some things up to share with them.  The staff stays in at Jawbone Flats for days or weeks at a time and, at least the last time we were there, they enjoyed us bringing in things that they can’t usually get at Jawbone Flats.

Closest Local Dive Shops to Get Air Fills and SCUBA Gear:

The closest dive shop is in Salem where air fills, gear service, and rental gear is available.  However, this dive site is inaccessible enough that you need to bring everything with you and be fully self sufficient.

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

The Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center does have very limited (but very good!) meal service.  You MUST reserve your meals at least two weeks in advance (double check this because it might change!) so that they have enough food for you.  There is usually NOT walk-up food service.  If you aren’t having a meal or two at the Center, you need to bring in all of your own food.

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

The Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center has cabins for rent.  However, they are extremely popular and often booked out months in advance.

You can camp in the forest but you must follow local wilderness regulations.  This area gets a lot of use so check with the district ranger office well in advance of your trip to get the most up-to-date information on where you can camp.  In addition to  being against forest regulations to camp wherever you want, it is also very bad for the forest if you camp in places that you shouldn’t.  The Opal Creek Wilderness is a special place in Oregon that as SCUBA divers we should work to protect so that we can continue enjoying Jawbone Flats and the Opal Pool for many years to come.

What Other People Have to Say About This Site:

Please write in the comments below your experiences with this dive site!

Smith Reservoir – Dam Boat Ramp

The dam boat ramp at Smith Reservoir is an easy entrance and gives quick access to the deep cold waters of Smith Reservoir.  However, the water intake structure for the Eugene Water and Electric Board is nearby and divers should use caution to not go near it.  The water is deep and cold enough here to make a regulator free flow as well due to ice buildup.

Underwater at Smith Reservoir.
Diving at the dam boat ramp at Smith Reservoir allows you to go deep in a hurry where low light and cold water make the diving a little more challenging. Huge old stumps from when there used to be an old growth forest here are a highlight.

Site Highlights

The reasons for people diving at the dam boat ramp on Smith Reservoir are mainly because the entrance is easy, you can go deep quickly, and there are big old stumps underwater to check out.  This is a typical Oregon Cascades lake or reservoir dive site with very cold water at depth, low viz if you stir up the bottom, and isolation from other humans.

Nearest Town:

There are no nearby towns.  Eugene, Bend, and Salem are equally far away.  There is a lodge at Clear Lake with a few basic services.

GPS Coordinates:

44.309534, -122.043461

Special Directions to Site:

Parking:

There is ample parking around the boat ramp but be sure to leave the ramp itself and the boat trailer parking clear for people with boats.  The last time we were here, we did not have to pay to park although this may change in the future.

smith reservoir dam boat ramp dive site
Imagery ©2017 Google, Map data ©2017 Google.
The farther west you go, the deeper it gets until you exceed maximum recreational dive limits. The water intake structure south of this dive site is to be avoided.

Site Orientation:

This site is more or less aligned to the cardinal directions.  The shore runs roughly north-south.  Head east to find your exit.  Head west to find very deep water.  Be careful of going too far south.  You want to avoid the water intake structure so you don’t end up sucked to an untimely death in the hydro electric project.

Entrances and Exits:

The best part of this site is how easy the entrance and exit is.  Just walk down the boat ramp and into the water!  Easy!  Do be mindful though of boater traffic and the occasional angler.

Salt/Fresh:

This is a freshwater dive unless someone dumps a LOT of salt in the lake.

Shore/Boat:

This is a shore dive although you could practice your boat diving skills here.

Normal Conditions:

This site is usually pretty calm.  It’s a good idea to have a dive flag since you’re near an active (although seldom used) boat ramp.  We recommend a dive flag on our Gear We Use page that we have used all over Oregon and are very happy to have in our inventory.

It can get really dark at depth at this dive site, especially if the sun is not directly overhead.  A good dive light is a good idea.

Normal Visibility:

15-20 feet of viz is the norm here although during spring snow melt or heavy rainstorms, the viz can be much lower.  The bottom can be stirred up and lead to greatly reduced viz so practice good neutral buoyancy skills.

Normal Temperature:

At the surface it can easily hit 60F in the summer but at depth, the water can be 38F all year long and even colder when the snow is melting.  We had a regulator free flow at the other dive site at Smith Reservoir a few years ago because the water was so cold.

Best Time of Year:

Summer and early fall are the best times to go diving here.  In the winter and spring, snow makes this site usually inaccessible or miserably cold to dive.

Max Depth:

We have gone down to 100 feet here where we had a regulator free flow due to ice buildup.  You can go MUCH deeper if you want to or if you aren’t careful about watching your gauges.

Suggested Special Training:

This is an altitude dive site so you should have altitude diver training.  Open water divers can successfully dive here as long as you have altitude training.

Difficulty of Dive:

The entrance and exit are easy and most of the diving is easy.  However, because you can easily go way too deep if you aren’t paying attention, we rate this as an intermediate dive site.

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

The most we have ever had to walk is 100 feet at this dive site.  If you can’t walk very far to an entrance, you could setup your gear right at the water’s edge and have someone move your car back up the boat ramp to the parking area.

Surface Swim Length:

No surface swim is needed here.

Special Site Notes:

This is an altitude dive site.  Beware of the water intake structure close to the dam.  The dam boat ramp is far enough away from the intake structure that you would have to either be very inattentive or actively try to get near it to be in danger but there is a danger that you could get sucked into it.

The water at depth is very cold and can cause your regulator to free flow due to ice formation.  We had it happen to us once at the other dive site on Smith Reservoir.

[Underwater Map of Dive Site Coming Soon!]

Closest Local Dive Shops to Get Air Fills and SCUBA Gear:

There are no close shops to Smith Reservoir’s dam boat ramp.  The closest shops are in Salem, Eugene, and Bend.

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

There is limited food service at the lodge at Clear Lake.

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

There is camping at Trail Bridge Reservoir’s campground and plenty of primitive camping in the forests.  If you have a boat, there is a campground accessible only by boat or hiking at the north end of the lake.  At Clear Lake there is a lodge that rents cabins.

What Other People Have to Say About This Site:

Please write in the comments below your experiences with this dive site!

Smith Reservoir – Upper Car Turnaround

The upper car turnaround at Smith Reservoir is a good place to go if you want underwater terrain that is a little less steep than near the dam on Smith Reservoir.  At this site you will see big algae mats near the surface and big stumps all over the place underwater.  It’s common to see trout cruising by here, too.

Smith Reservoir
Looking toward the dam on Smith Reservoir from the upper car turn-around dive site. This lake does get boat traffic occasionally so a dive flag is a good idea.

Site Highlights

The main highlight on this site is the big underwater stumps.  Old growth trees were cut down to make way for Smith Reservoir.  The stumps are big and plentiful as you go down the underwater slope.  This is also a good place to practice your diving skills at a little more forgiving of a site than somewhere like Clear Lake.  The walk from where you can park your car down to the water is somewhat challenging and can give good practice for doing more demanding entrances on the Oregon coast.

Nearest Town:

There aren’t any towns out here.  The nearest humans will probably be at the lodge at Clear Lake.  Otherwise Bend, Eugene, and Salem are all about the same distances away.  You need to be self sufficient at Smith Reservoir.

GPS Coordinates:

44.314719, -122.043345

Special Directions to Site:

Watch for the signs for NF-730, Tamolitch Trailhead, Smith Reservoir, and Trail Bridge Campground along the McKenzie River Highway.  The turn comes up fast so give yourself plenty of time to slow down and make the turn.  Once you cross the bridge, go left and drive past the big water turbine power generator.  There is a payphone here that worked the last time we checked.  There is no cell service here otherwise.

You will drive past the top end of Trail Bridge Reservoir (there are several dive sites at Trail Bridge Reservoir) and then head up a canyon before climbing up the face of Smith Reservoir Dam.  Keep driving along the east shore of the lake until you get to the dead-end and turn around.  This is the dive site parking area.

Parking:

The turn around at the end of the road has some areas that you can park at.  Be sure to not block the turn around so that other people can turn their vehicles around here.  The last time we were here, there were no signs or other indications of having to pay to park but this could change.

smith reservoir
Imagery ©2017 Google, Map data ©2017 Google.
The turn around area at the end of the road above the dam at Smith Reservoir is big enough to turn a trailer around.

 

Site Orientation:

The site is laid out on the compass points.  North heads to the shallow headwaters of Smith Reservoir while south heads toward the Smith Reservoir Dam.  West sends you to deep water and east sends you to shore and your car.

Entrances and Exits:

There are several decent entrances and exits along the shore.  You do have to take some big steps to get into the water which can be exacerbated by water level in the reservoir.

Salt/Fresh:

This is a fresh water dive.

Shore/Boat:

This is a shore dive although you could throw a boat in this lake and practice your boat diving skills.

Normal Conditions:

We have never encountered any waves or current here.  Occasionally someone puts in a kayak, canoe, or motorboat so be sure to fly a dive flag.  We have a highly recommended dive flag on our Gear We Use page.  Water can be pretty cold though during spring snow melt.

Normal Visibility:

We have found visibility to be between 5 and 20 feet depending on the time of year and how much runoff is coming into Smith Reservoir.  The bottom can get stirred up so be sure to practice good neutral buoyancy skills.

Normal Temperature:

Normally you’ll find water in the 45-55F range depending on where in the water column you are.  In the spring, it can be much colder due to snow melt.

Best Time of Year:

Summer and fall are ideal conditions.  Once the snow starts to fall, this dive site is inaccessible.

Max Depth:

You can either stay shallow or go deeper here.  We have been down to 60 feet at this site on Smith Reservoir but you can go significantly deeper if you head west and south.  Watch your max depth and remember that this is an altitude dive.

Suggested Special Training:

Open water divers can successfully dive here.  However, this is an altitude dive site and you should have altitude diver training before you go diving here.

Difficulty of Dive:

The diving itself is easy.  Getting down to the dive site from the parking lot is more challenging.  We rate this as a beginner skill level dive site but be aware that it is a bit challenging to walk down to the water.  The other dive site at Smith Reservoir might be a better option if you don’t want a strenuous walk.

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

250 feet unless the water is really low.

Surface Swim Length:

No surface swim needed.

bubbles
The water can be very clear in the right conditions at Smith Reservoir although usually the viz is around 15-20 feet.

Special Site Notes:

Remember that this is an altitude dive and you should have special training to dive at altitude.  Stay well clear of the water intake structure near the Smith Reservoir dam.  A flashlight (we have several we use and recommend on our Gear We Use page) is a good idea if you’re going deeper than about 30 feet.

We had a regulator build up ice at depth at this site and free flow on us once.  Because of the cold water and the depth you can achieve at the west and south parts of this dive site, there is the very real potential for a regulator free flow.

[Underwater Map of Dive Site Coming Soon!]

Closest Local Dive Shops to Get Air Fills and SCUBA Gear:

There are no close dive shops up at Smith Reservoir.  You need to be self sufficient.  There are shops in Bend, Salem, and Eugene.

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

The closest food of any kind is at the lodge at Clear Lake.

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

The lodge at clear lake has some cabins for rent.  Otherwise there is a campground at Trail Bridge Reservoir just down the hill from Smith Reservoir or there is plenty of primitive camping in the area.

What Other People Have to Say About This Site:

Please write in the comments below your experiences with this dive site!

Waldo Lake Shadow Bay Day Use Area Boat Ramp

The Shadow Bay Day Use Area Boat Ramp on Waldo Lake is a fun and easy place to go diving on the lake.  This is a big, clear body of water that has excellent visibility although at this particular site there isn’t that much to see.  We like diving here with SCUBA friends to take photos of one another goofing around underwater.  It is also neat to watch sailboats pass overhead on the surface from 50 feet down.

Waldo Lake
Photo by Coulee at English Wikipedia (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. Waldo Lake is a fun place to go diving because of the great visibility and easy diving conditions.

Site Highlights:

The main thing we like about this dive site is the visibility.  Aside from Clear Lake, there aren’t that many places in Oregon where you can go diving so easily and get such great viz.  We like taking photos of each other underwater here and we also enjoy watching the hulls of sailboats glide past from the bottom.

Nearest Town:

Oakridge, Oregon is down the highway by a half hour or so from Waldo Lake.

GPS Coordinates:

43.691354, -122.042806

Special Directions to Site:

Look for signs to Waldo Lake on Highway 58.  National Forest Road 5897 is the road you want.  Follow the road for a few miles until you reach National Forest Road 5896.  There should be a Shadow Bay sign at the left turn.  Follow signs for the boat ramp.

Parking:

Parking usually isn’t a problem at the boat ramp area.  On really busy summer days, you may have to park over in the campground day use area.

 

shadow bay
Imagery ©2017 Google, Map data ©2017 Google. Shadow Bay starts shallow but gets very deep when you exit the little bay by the boat ramp.

Site Orientation:

The little bay next to the boat ramp is shallow.  Depending on your inclination, you can start diving here or you can surface swim out to the deeper water.  The larger part of the dive site can get very deep.  We went as deep as 70 feet here before.  It is important to use a compass and have good navigation skills because it is easy to get disoriented in the deeper water where there are no underwater landmarks.

Entrances and Exits:

We usually walk right in at the boat ramp but you can also enter from the shore along the lake if you don’t mind a little bit of a scramble to get in.

Salt/Fresh:

This is a fresh water dive.

Shore/Boat:

While we usually dive this site as a shore dive, you can also dive the entire lake as a boat dive.  Recently the Forest Service has begun allowing electric motors on the lake after many years of banning all engines.  Even with electric motors being allowed, most people still use sailboats here.

Normal Conditions:

Conditions here are usually good.  There isn’t any current to speak of.  Just watch for boat traffic when you surface.  We suggest taking along a dive flag so that boats can spot and avoid you.  We recommend the dive flag that we use on our Gear We Use page.

Normal Visibility:

Visibility is usually at least 40 feet and sometimes in excess of 100 feet.

Normal Temperature:

In the summer, water temperature around the boat ramp can be 65F.  At greater depths, expect water temperatures around 40-45F.

Best Time of Year:

This site is only accessible in the summer and fall.  Snow in the winter and spring blocks the road.

Max Depth:

We have not gone past 70 feet here although it appears you can easily go below the maximum recreational SCUBA diving depth limit on the western side of the Shadow Bay dive site.

Suggested Special Training:

This lake is an altitude dive.  Shadow Bay is at 5400 feet above sea level making it one of the higher lakes that you can dive in Oregon.  Be sure to know what you’re doing with your altitude tables and be sure your computer compensates for altitude before diving here.

Aside from the altitude diver training requirement, this dive site is very accessible to just-certified open water divers.

Difficulty of Dive:

This dive is very easy aside from needing to remember about altitude considerations.

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

Depending on where you park and where you enter, you will walk between 50 and 500 feet.

Surface Swim Length:

You don’t strictly need to surface swim here although swimming out of the little bay where the boat ramp is will conserve air for the deeper areas further to the west.  You might want to surface swim about 300 feet.

Special Site Notes:

Remember that this is an altitude dive.  The bottom on the western side of the site slowly drops deeper and deeper.  Watch your gauges and your depth.  It is very easy to be lured deeper than you intended to go because there aren’t any visual cues.

[Underwater Map of Dive Site Coming Soon!]

Closest Local Dive Shops to Get Air Fills and SCUBA Gear:

The closest dive shops are in Eugene and Bend.  This site is in the middle of nowhere and you need to be self sufficient to dive here.

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

There aren’t any restaurants nearby.  Bring your own food!

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

There are many National Forest campgrounds and many opportunities for primitive camping in the area.

What Other People Have to Say About This Site:

Please write in the comments below your experiences with this dive site!

Big Pool Swimming Hole on Fall Creek

Big Pool on Fall Creek outside Eugene, Oregon is a fun dive site perfect for a lazy summer or early fall afternoon SCUBA session.  We have heard this site also called Ye Olde Rope Swing Hole although that name seems to have fallen out of favor in the last few years.  Many divers in Oregon would never think to go dive a swimming hole on a creek in the Central Cascades.  We have done it and we can say it’s pretty fun.

fall creek
Fall Creek from the Unity Covered Bridge a ways below Big Pool Swimming Hole.

 

Site Highlights

This site is fun to dive.  There isn’t any big highlight other than it’s just plain fun to scramble down the bank and go diving somewhere people usually swim.  We have found glass pipes, a variety of beverage containers, and sunglasses in the bottom of Big Pool.  This is also a good place to go after crayfish.  We caught a pile here once with nothing more than our mesh bag (we have a mesh bag we highly recommend our Gear We Use page) and our hands.

With being so shallow, you can spend a long time diving this site.  Going slow along the bottom looking for things lost by swimmers can be a lot of fun.

Nearest Town:

The little town of Lowell, Oregon is just down the road.  Eugene and Springfield are a little further away and much larger.

GPS Coordinates:

43.966372, -122.600530

Special Directions to Site:

Head up the Willamette Highway and then follow signs for Lowell.  Take Moss Street north out of Lowell (it becomes Jasper-Lowell Road) and then turn right onto Big Fall Creek Road.  Go through the little community of Unity and head upstream above the dam and Fall Creek Lake.  Look for signs for Big Pool Campground.

Parking:

Usually you can squeeze into the Big Pool Campground parking area or nearby by pulling off the forest road.  Don’t block other people in.

big pool
Imagery ©2017 Google, Map data ©2017 Google. Big Pool is a fun place to do a dive not far from Eugene.

Site Orientation:

You might encounter a bit of current depending on the time of year and how much water is flowing down the creek.  Upriver is against the current and downriver is with the current.  The site isn’t very large so you don’t have to worry about getting lost.

Entrances and Exits:

You have to walk down a bit of a scramble of a bank from the campground area to get to Big Pool.  We had to walk through someone’s campsite the last time we were here.  the Forest Service may have improved the campground since last we went diving at Big Pool.

Salt/Fresh:

This is a fresh water dive.

Shore/Boat:

This is a shore dive.

Normal Conditions:

Usually there is a tiny bit of current but nothing bad.  Conditions here are benign unless you’re diving during the big spring snow melt.  When the thaw is on and the creek is raging, Big Pool might be a bit too much for most people to dive.

People like swimming in Big Pool.  Be mindful of other users of the SCUBA dive site.  People also like to jump into the water from a few different overhanging areas.  It might not be a bad idea to have a friend stay on the surface to keep people from jumping on top of your bubbles while you are trying to surface.

Normal Visibility:

As long as you stay off the bottom, you can get 15 feet of visibility here.  If you stir up the silt on the bottom, it’s easy to go down to 3 feet of viz.

Normal Temperature:

At the end of summer, water temperatures can be up around 65F.  During the spring snow melt, it can be around 34F.

Best Time of Year:

The summer and fall are the best times to dive this site but it can be accessed most of the year as long as the road is open and not covered in snow.

Max Depth:

We found 25 feet here once but most of the site is shallower than that.

Suggested Special Training:

Open water divers can dive this site without too much problem.  This site is just below 1000 feet so by the training standards we are familiar with, this does not count as an altitude dive.  If you go further up Fall Creek, you will get into altitude diver territory.

Difficulty of Dive:

This is an easy dive.  The hardest part is the scramble down and up the bank.

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

About 100 feet unless you get really unlucky with parking.

Surface Swim Length:

No surface swim at Big Pool!

Special Site Notes:

Please be considerate of other users of this site.  People come here to relax, swim, chill out, and have a good time.  Talking with other site users before you go diving can go a long way to improving relations between SCUBA divers and the public.

[Underwater Map of Dive Site Coming Soon!]

Closest Local Dive Shops to Get Air Fills and SCUBA Gear:

There is a local dive shop in Eugene with full service gear repair, sales, and air fills.

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

We haven’t tried any of the restaurants in this area so please let us know if there is one we should check out!

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

There are many campgrounds in this area including right at the dive site.  There are also primitive camping opportunities.  We haven’t tried any of the area hotels so please let us know if you find a hotel that is SCUBA diver friendly.

What Other People Have to Say About This Site:

Please write in the comments below your experiences with this dive site!

Big Cliff Reservoir – Old Boat Ramp by the Transmission Tower

The dive site by the old boat ramp at the electrical transmission tower at Big Cliff Reservoir is an interesting place to go SCUBA diving.  It is not as scary of a dive site as the upper river bottom but it is still a serious dive site due to the current and the ease of which you can go too deep.  This is an interesting site for the steep submerged cliffs and the flooded river bottom.

Big Cliff Dam
Copyright 2013 Robert Ashworth. Big Cliff Dam at the bottom of the reservoir regulates water flow coming out of Detroit Dam.

Site Highlights:

The main draw for this site is the interesting submerged cliffs and river bottom.  Even though visibility is usually not great, it is still interesting to explore along the cliff faces and practice drift diving.  If you come to dive the upper river channel and get cold feet, this is an alternative place to dive.

Nearest Town:

Detroit, Oregon is just up the Santiam Highway.

GPS Coordinates:

44.731105, -122.262966

Special Directions to Site:

The turn-off to this dive site should have a sign for the Detroit Dam but the sign might be missing depending upon homeland security threats.  Look for the right turn along the reservoir.

Parking:

Park by the old boat ramp next to the big metal electrical transmission tower.

Imagery ©2017 Google, Map data ©2017 Google. The dive site accessible from the old boat ramp at the top end of Big Cliff Reservoir has some interesting submerged cliffs to check out.

Site Orientation:

We suggest sticking along the north shore of Big Cliff Reservoir.  We haven’t explored much on the southern shore so we can’t provide many details about it.  Sticking to the north shore also makes it much easier to get to an exit and back to your car.

We like to enter just upstream from the big metal electric transmission tower and drift down underwater.  Keep to the right and hug the cliffs at a depth that you want to stay at.  This dive site can go below the maximum recreational SCUBA depth.

Sometimes there is an eddy that will slowly push upstream right along the bank.  If the eddy is running, you can drift down with the current a little deeper and farther away from the bank, and then drift back up toward the exit closest to your car at a shallower depth.

There are potential underwater obstructions on this dive site.  It isn’t as bad, in our experience, as the upper riverbed dive site but the risk is still there.  There may also be potholes in the deep old riverbed that could have pinch points and caverns that could trap and drown you.  Be careful and dive within your personal limits!

Entrances and Exits:

We like to enter just above the electrical transmission tower and float down to the main part of the dive site.  The old boat ramp is another place to enter.  The last time we were here, the boat ramp was blocked off for boat traffic but you could still walk down to the water easily.  This boat ramp could reopen in the future or be more closed off than before.

The old boat ramp is also a good place to exit if your dive takes you back to this point.  Otherwise, there are a few places along the northern shore where you can exit and scramble up the bank to the road.  The scramble is difficult.

Salt/Fresh:

This is a fresh water dive.

Shore/Boat:

This is a shore dive although a boat could help if you want to drift much farther down the reservoir.

Normal Conditions:

There is always a strong current here.  Underwater obstructions and hazards are probably present.  Be careful and dive within your personal limits.  You could get hung up underwater and drown, and be very dead.

Normal Visibility:

Usually we get around 10 feet of visibility here.

Normal Temperature:

Water temperature varies based on what Detroit Dam is doing.  It can be down around 38F or up to about 65F depending on the time of year and upstream conditions.

Best Time of Year:

We have only gone diving here in the winter and spring.  It was fine during those times.  The rest of the year is also probably fine although in the summer and fall, there may be worse visibility due to poor water conditions.

Max Depth:

You can surpass 130 feet at this site if you try.  Be mindful of your depth and plan your dive.

Suggested Special Training:

We suggest rescue diver training and drift diver training for this site.

Difficulty of Dive:

The old boat ramp at Big Cliff is an intermediate level of difficulty dive site.  The main challenges are the current and potential surface swim or scramble up the bank, and the potential for underwater obstructions to catch and drown you.

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

100 feet or less.  But coming back from the lower exit is about a 600 foot walk.

Surface Swim Length:

Depending on how well you navigate and what the current is doing, none up to 600 or so feet to get to an exit.

Special Site Notes:

As we have already mentioned several times, this site has the potential for underwater obstructions of various types that could catch a diver and drown you until you are completely dead.  The current can be tricky here and we treat this site as a drift dive.

We suggest taking a good dive light so you can see your gauges and see where you are going.  When you get deep here, it becomes very dark.  We have several dive lights that we trust and use all the time when we go diving in Oregon that we list over on our Gear We Use page.

Closest Local Dive Shops to Get Air Fills and SCUBA Gear:

The closest dive shop is in Salem.

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

Up in the town of Detroit, there are several decent restaurants.  Let us know if you have a favorite that we should check out.

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

There are many state and federal campgrounds in the area as well as a few private campgrounds.  Check at the USFS ranger station in Detroit for primitive camping options on the forest roads.

We haven’t tried any of the hotels or cabin rentals in the area yet.  Please get in touch with us if you know of a place that is SCUBA diver friendly!

What Other People Have to Say About This Site:

Please write in the comments below your experiences with this dive site!

Big Cliff Reservoir – Upper River Bottom

The upper river bottom of Big Cliff Reservoir just below Detroit Dam on the Santiam River in the central Oregon Cascades is a serious business, no screwing around SCUBA diving site.  Don’t get us wrong, this is a fun site to drift dive, but it is also a very demanding site where you can easily get caught in an underwater obstruction and drown.  For this reason, this is a site that you need to be prepared to dive and be willing to accept the risks of the site.

Site Highlights

The main highlight of this site is doing a high speed drift dive down the river bottom.  There aren’t many places that are deep enough to blast down a river at breakneck speed.  Dodging sunken trees and huge boulders is great fun (although quite dangerous).  There are some deep potholes that you will most likely get sucked into and spit out the other side after swirling around inside a few times.  We don’t know if there are any underwater caves or pinch points that you might get stuck in but we would not be surprised if there are.  This site has some significant risks that you need to be aware of and willing to accept.

Nearest Town:

Detroit, Oregon is up the road from Big Cliff at the top end of Detroit Lake.

GPS Coordinates:

44.730873, -122.262835

Special Directions to Site:

Heading east on North Santiam highway, look for the right turn toward the top end of Big Cliff Reservoir.  The last time we went diving here a couple years ago, there was a sign for Detroit Dam but this may have been removed since then.

Parking:

We park at the old boat ramp next to the big metal electrical transmission tower.  There is another parking area up toward Detroit Dam on the access road that we have used to stage gear before leaving the car at the lower exit.

big cliff site plan
Imagery ©2017 Google, Map data ©2017 Google. The upper river at Big Cliff Reservoir is an exhilarating dive site but it can kill you.

Site Orientation:

You just follow the river down.  There isn’t much else to it.  Along the way you will encounter rocks, logs, big washtubs and potholes in the rock, and a bunch of other stuff that blazes by in the blink of an eye.

Entrances and Exits:

We usually enter at the entrance farthest up the river just above the bridge.  However, due to national security concerns, this area may now be closed off or could be closed off at any point in time.

There is another good place to enter and a good place to exit early just below the bridge at a pull-out.  If push comes to shove, you can exit just about anywhere along the river if you don’t mind scrambling up a steep bank.  You can also float along the surface until you reach the lower exit and your car.

The lower exit is at the old boat ramp and the big metal electrical transmission tower.  We have tried putting out a line underwater here so that we know when we need to surface but we seem to never manage to see the line.  Instead, watch your depth and surface when you hit around 50 feet (this depends on the Big Cliff Reservoir water level though).  If you blow past 50 feet, you’ll be heading into the lower dive site on Big Cliff Reservoir.

Salt/Fresh:

This is a fresh water dive.

Shore/Boat:

This is a shore dive.

Normal Conditions:

The whole point of this site is the incredible current.  You cannot fight against it.  All you can do is follow along.

The potential for underwater obstructions that can entangle and drown you is very real at this site.  Be darn sure of your skills and ready to accept the very real risks before you jump in here.  We are very skilled divers with experience diving all over the world and thousands of dives under our collective belts, and this site scares us.

You will almost certainly lose your buddy underwater unless you’re holding onto each other.  Be prepared and have a plan for what to do when you separate.  Taking the time to surface (which you should do unless you are certified to solo dive) will eat up a lot of river distance due to how fast the current is.

Water conditions change rapidly and drastically here based on what Detroit Dam is doing.  There is no warning for changing water conditions.  Although if you hear a big alarm klaxon, that may mean Detroit Dam is suffering some sort of breach or failure and you’re about to be swept way downriver in a flood.  That probably isn’t going to happen while you’re diving here though.

Normal Visibility:

We usually get 5-10 feet of visibility here.  It is dependent on the water quality exiting Detroit Dam upstream.

Normal Temperature:

Water temperature really varies here based on what Detroit Dam is doing.  Usually it seems the water is between 45 and 65F.

Best Time of Year:

We don’t know if there is a better time to dive here or not.  We have only gone to this site a couple of times in the spring and summer.  During those times, conditions were acceptable for the level of risk we were willing to take.

Max Depth:

Most of the way along the river, you will be between 15 and 25 feet deep.  In potholes, you can hit 40 feet briefly.  At the bottom end of the site, you should surface before you hit 50 feet so that you don’t end up way down at the bottom of Detroit Lake.

Suggested Special Training:

Anything less than a rescue diver certification and extensive experience with drift diving and underwater hazards is really asking for trouble at this site.  Even with that training and experience, this site is still risky.

Difficulty of Dive:

If it weren’t for the very real danger of being pinned under a log or against a rock where you will slowly run out of air and then drown, this would be a fairly straight forward and easy dive.  Because of these very real risks, you need to be in peak physical condition and be a very experienced diver.

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

Depending on where you park, if you drop your gear off upriver, and if you choose to enter at the middle or upper entrance, you could be walking anywhere from 50 feet to 2400 feet.

Surface Swim Length:

There is no surface swim here.  Swimming against the current is normally impossible.

Special Site Notes:

This is a no screwing around dive site.  There are many things underwater waiting and eager to grab and drown you thoroughly dead.  Get some serious training and serious experience before you attempt this site.

We suggest taking a good dive light so that you can at least read your gauges in some of the deep, black holes.  We have several dive lights that we use every time we dive in Oregon and highly recommend at the Gear We Use page.

[Underwater Map of Dive Site Coming Soon!]

Closest Local Dive Shops to Get Air Fills and SCUBA Gear:

There aren’t any close dive shops up here.  The closest shop is in Salem.

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

Detroit has a few small restaurants that are decent places for a meal.

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

There are several federal and state campgrounds nearby and plenty of primitive camping in the national forest.

We haven’t tried any of the hotels or cabins in the area.  Please let us know if you know of a good place that is SCUBA friendly!

What Other People Have to Say About This Site:

Please write in the comments below your experiences with this dive site!