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!

Lake Billy Chinook – The Cove Palisades State Park – Crooked River Boat Ramp

The Crooked River Boat Ramp at Lake Billy Chinook is a good place to go get wet in Central Oregon.  You can either do this as a shore dive or a boat dive depending on if you bring a pontoon or motorboat with you.  The site varies from a fairly shallow and sandy bottom to deep, steep, and rocky.  There is a fair amount of boat traffic in the summer around the boat ramp but there are plenty of other places to enter and exit the water nearby for shore diving.  We have had a good time searching for objects lost by boaters at the boat ramp.  More often than not, it seems that there is a boater with something that just fell overboard who is very happy to see a couple SCUBA divers in the parking lot.

Lake Billy Chinook and Mt. Jefferson
Copyright 2009 Sarah McDevitt. Lake Billy Chinook has a lot of potential for SCUBA diving if you have a boat. The Crooked River Boat Ramp is a good place to put your boat in or to shore dive.

Site Highlights:

The draw for us to dive around the Crooked River Boat Ramp is the underwater topography.  While the swimming area and directly around it are relatively shallow and sandy, going to either the north or south you will encounter steep underwater cliffs that are fun to explore.  Taking a boat farther out into the lake opens up many potential dive sites that we haven’t been able to explore yet.

Nearest Town:

Culver and Metolius, Oregon are the two closest small towns.  Redmond and Bend are further south and have more services.

GPS Coordinates:

44.554023, -121.262217

Special Directions to Site:

From US 97, follow signs for Lake Billy Chinook and The Cove Palisades State Park.  You’ll end up on SW Jordan Road as you descend into the canyon.  Right after the switchback at the bottom, the marina is on the right and clearly signed as the Crooked River Boat Ramp.

Parking:

Parking is plentiful although it fills up on weekends in the summer.  Be sure to park in the lot that is appropriate for your vehicle.  Don’t take up a boat trailer spot with your car.  The last time we were here, we paid to park but that may have changed.

Imagery ©2017 Google, Map data ©2017 Google. The Crooked River Boat Ramp has a lot of good entrances and exits, and varied terrain that keeps this dive site interesting.

 

Site Orientation:

The site runs roughly north-south.  The further to the west you go, the deeper it gets.  We haven’t gone beyond 75 feet deep at this site although the depth finder on our boat indicated that out in the old river channel, you can surpass the maximum recreational SCUBA diver depth limit.

Around the boat ramp and swimming area, the bottom is mostly flat and sandy.  This is a shallower area that is appropriate for practicing your SCUBA skills.  To the north and south, the water gets deeper and the terrain gets more rugged and rocky.  We have found big boulders underwater that must have plunged down centuries ago from the basalt cap rocks on the mesas high above.

Be sure to steer clear of the boat ramp and docks when boaters are present unless you’re helping a boater retrieve lost gear.

Entrances and Exits:

There is an entrance and an exit for everyone here.  Most of the entrances are easy walk-ins.  A few you have to do some big steps down to the water.  At the boat ramp, someone with limited ability can walk right into the water.

Salt/Fresh:

This is a fresh water dive.

Shore/Boat:

The Crooked River Boat Ramp can be dived as a shore dive or a boat dive depending on what you want to do.  If you’re doing a boat dive, we suggest you head further north along the lake and check out some of the cliffs up in that direction.  The entire lake is diveable although you need to check with local regulations to see if SCUBA divers are allowed everywhere.

Normal Conditions:

You sometimes can get a little wake from boaters coming into the marina too fast.  Otherwise, there can be a little current to the west of this dive site if the Crooked River is running high during the spring snow melt.  Beyond that, this is a pretty benign dive site compared to diving on the Oregon coast.

Normal Visibility:

The last time we went diving here, we easily had 50 feet of visibility although during the end of the summer when water quality can be very poor, the viz can go much lower.

Normal Temperature:

We have seen water temperatures as cold as 38F at depth and as warm as 60F in the shallows here.

Best Time of Year:

In the summer, the lake is packed with boats which makes it a little more tricky to dive around the Crooked River Boat Ramp.  However, the air and water are warmer and all of the concessions along the lake are open.

In the winter, we have heard that the gate to this site sometimes is closed although we have not had that problem ourselves.

This site is diveable all year round.  Choose your favorite time of year to go to Central Oregon and head to Lake Billy Chinook!

Max Depth:

We haven’t gone past 75 feet at this site although you should be able to touch 130 feet without too much effort to the west of the site.

Suggested Special Training:

Open water divers can dive this site after taking an altitude specialty class.  The lake elevation is usually around 1900 feet above sea level making this an altitude dive.

Difficulty of Dive:

This is an easy dive site that can be enjoyed by everyone assuming that you have altitude diver training.  Entrances and exits are very easy.  There is even handicapped parking right next to the boat ramp.  If you want a little more challenge, go either north or south along the canyon walls to find underwater cliffs and deep water.

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

Depending on where you park, it can be between a 50 foot and a 500 foot walk to the entrance.

Surface Swim Length:

If you enter in the swimming area, you’ll want to kick out 100 feet or so in order to find some deeper water.  Otherwise the other entrances don’t require much of a surface swim.

Special Site Notes:

Steer clear of the boat ramp if boaters are actively putting in or taking out boats.  We suggest flying a dive flag to let boaters know where you are.  We have one we use all the time when we go diving in Oregon that we highly recommend.  Check out our Gear We Use page for details.

[Underwater Map of Dive Site Coming Soon!]

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

There is a full service SCUBA shop in Bend.

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

There are a few restaurants in Culver and more up north on US 97 in Madras.  If you have a favorite, please let us know!

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

There are several state and federal-run campgrounds nearby.  There is also a private resort just down the road with cabins.  If you know of any hotels in the area that are SCUBA diver friendly, please let us know!

What Other People Have to Say About This Site:

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

Foster Reservoir – Calkins Park

Calkins Park on the top end of Foster Reservoir is a decent place to do training dives or to explore for things that fall overboard from boats being put into the water at the boat ramp.  We have done some training dives here for a rescue diver class.  The dives were pretty miserable but it was excellent training for all of the students.  If you’re looking for a site to dive in the central Oregon Cascades, this could be just the ticket.

Foster Reservoir (Linn County, Oregon scenic images) (linnDA0050a)
Gary Halvorson, Oregon State Archives [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons. Calkins Park can be beautiful in the summer and fall but can be a wet, miserable place in the winter and spring.

Site Highlights:

You can probably already tell that this isn’t our favorite dive site.  The bottom is muddy and will cause complete blackout conditions if you touch it.  In the winter and spring when snowmelt is pumping down into the reservoir, the water can be right at freezing.  In the summer and fall, boaters crowd the boat ramp and make this site not very safe for SCUBA divers.

That being said, Calkins Park is a great place to go train in sometimes challenging conditions.  We have participated in and seen several rescue diver classes take place here.  The conditions are demanding and the site is challenging enough to be useful for training but not so challenging as to be bad for teaching a class.

If you go to dive here for fun, more power to you.  You might find a lost wallet or fishing gear that fell off of a boat getting put into the water.

On one particular day, we did several training dives at this site.  The water temperature was cold enough that we were quite unhappy with our drysuits because they weren’t keeping us particularly warm.  We could see ice crystals flowing by in the water.  The bottom conditions instantly turned into blackout at the slightest fin touch.  The current was strong and unrelenting.  One student dropped his face mask and it instantly vanished in five feet of water.  No amount of scouring the bottom revealed where the mask had gone.  But the students learned a lot and are much better divers for the experience.

Nearest Town:

Sweethome, Oregon is just down the road.

GPS Coordinates:

44.413542, -122.626049

Special Directions to Site:

Head east from Sweethome on US 20 (Santiam Highway) and look for signs to Calkins Park and Quartzville Road.  Right after you turn left onto Quartzville Road, take another left into Calkins Park.

Parking:

We went diving here in the late winter and had the place to ourselves.  In the summer and fall, parking is packed.

calkins par
Imagery ©2017 Google, Map data ©2017 Google. Calkins Park is a good place for training dives in challenging conditions but otherwise is not something that we dive regularly.

Site Orientation:

The shore runs more or less east west.  Deeper water is to the north.  Steer clear of the boat ramp when people are actively loading and unloading boats.  We suggest taking a dive flag along if there are boaters in the area.  We have a dive flag that we love and use listed on our Gear We Use page.

Entrances and Exits:

If there isn’t any boat traffic, you can use the boat ramp.  Otherwise, the beach to the west of the boat ramp is usually a good entrance even when the water is very low.

Salt/Fresh:

This is a fresh water dive.

Shore/Boat:

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

Normal Conditions:

Conditions vary widely based on the time of year and water level in the reservoir.  In the summer and fall, there is very little current and the site gets a bit stagnant from the water not moving.  In the winter, icebergs can flow into the lake with the water level so low that the site is not diveable.

Normal Visibility:

The best we have ever seen here is about five feet of viz.  If you even so much as look at the bottom the wrong way, you will have instant blackout conditions that will not clear if there isn’t enough current.

Normal Temperature:

32F during snowmelt all the way up to 65F at the end of a hot, dry summer.

Best Time of Year:

There isn’t any boat traffic here in the winter which is desirable.  Otherwise this site can be dived any time that the water is high enough and you are bold enough to do so.

Max Depth:

The max depth really varies based on how much water is in the reservoir.  When we went diving here in the winter, we never went below 30 feet but in the summer when the reservoir is full, you could see 60-70 foot depths.

Suggested Special Training:

Open water divers can dive this site.  It would be a good place to practice your neutral buoyancy skills and navigation.

Difficulty of Dive:

This is an easy dive with an easy entrance.  The only difficulty is when the water is freezing cold and when you get blackout conditions because you stir up the silt.

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

Depending on parking and water level, 50-500 feet.

Surface Swim Length:

No surface swim is needed usually.

Special Site Notes:

Ask yourself if you really want to dive here before you bother setting up your gear.  We think this is a pretty miserable dive site in the winter and spring.  In the summer and fall there is a lot of boat traffic.  The bottom stirs up and reduces visibility to absolutely nil.

When the water level is low, the lake bed becomes a series of morasses and mud flats where people sometimes get stuck up to their waists in the mud.  Go gingerly through the mud and turn back if you start to hit quicksand.

[Underwater Map of Dive Site Coming Soon!]

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

There isn’t any dive shop around Calkins Park.  The closest shops are in Salem and Eugene.

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

Sweethome has a couple decent restaurants.  Let us know if you have a favorite that we should try!

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

There is plenty of camping in the area at federal campgrounds, private campgrounds, and off forest roads where you can do primitive camping.  We haven’t tried any hotels or cabins in the area.  Let us know if you know of a good hotel that is SCUBA diver friendly in the area!

What Other People Have to Say About This Site:

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

Crab Rocks / The Three Graces

The Three Graces, otherwise known as Crab Rocks, is a beautiful dive site right off US101 just west of Garibaldi, Oregon.  We love coming here to dive for the scenery above and below water.  The complex and ever changing currents make this a fun and challenging site to navigate.  We have had great luck spearfishing and crabbing here in the past.

Site Highlights

This is one of the easiest sites to access in Tillamook Bay.  The entrance and exit are easy and straight forward compared to the jetty dive sites.  The scenery is breathtaking.  The crabbing and spearfishing are pretty good.  And the tricky currents that are constantly changing make this a fun navigation puzzle.

Nearest Town:

Garibaldi, Oregon.

GPS Coordinates:

45.564029, -123.936416

Special Directions to Site:

Look for the parking on the west side of US101 just north of the Three Graces.

Parking:

Parking is free and plentiful.  We have heard from some of our SCUBA friends that sometimes people’s cars get broken into here if a bunch of expensive looking equipment is left visible inside.  When we go diving here, we usually take some friends along who aren’t divers so that they can make sure our stuff is safe while they enjoy the scenery.

three graces
Imagery ©2017 Google, Map data ©2017 Google. The Three Graces or Crab Rocks dive site is a fun navigation puzzle with good spearfishing and crabbing.

Site Orientation:

The main site is around the Three Graces.  Stick close to the rocks and remember than heading east gets you to land.  Good navigation skills are a big help here especially when the current starts playing tricks on you.

The rock further north (called Painted Rock on NOAA navigational charts) can also be dived although a longer surface swim is necessary to reach it.  There are a few smaller rocks in between that might be worth checking out if you feel like navigating to them.

Entrances and Exits:

The entrance and exit is along the railroad tracks.  Follow the path that crosses the railroad tracks and pick your favorite spot to climb over the low jetty to get to the water.  One spot is much easier than the others.  Scout ahead before you jump in.

Salt/Fresh:

This is a salt water dive.

Shore/Boat:

This is a shore dive.

Normal Conditions:

This is so far in the Tillamook Bay that you won’t have any surf or surge.  You will have current though.  The current swirls around the Three Graces in unusual and somewhat unpredictable patterns.  It makes this a great navigation puzzle site.

Normal Visibility:

We have seen anywhere from 10 to 25 feet of visibility depending on time of year and upstream river conditions.

Normal Temperature:

This site can be as cold as 38F and as warm as 57F depending on what is happening upriver in the Coast Range.  Cold winter rains can really chill the water here while hot summer days can make the water pretty warm.

Best Time of Year:

We like diving here in the spring and fall the best although the site is diveable year round.

Max Depth:

We once logged 51 feet here in some potholes by the base of the three graces before but most of this site is pretty shallow.

Suggested Special Training:

This site is accessible to anyone with open water SCUBA certification although you will want to have sharp navigation skills because of the complex nature of this dive site.

Difficulty of Dive:

We rate this as an easy beginner dive because there isn’t much that can go seriously wrong at this site.  You would have to really work at it to get sucked out to sea from here.  There is boat traffic in the shipping channel but sticking close to the rocks you won’t have any troubles with that.

The entrance does require a small jetty scramble but it’s nowhere near as intense as many of the other jetties along the Oregon coast.

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

It’s about a 200-300 feet walk to the best area to enter.

Surface Swim Length:

You will want to surface swim maybe 100 feet out to get to deeper water before you descend.

Special Site Notes:

At low tide, this site is really not diveable.  This is much more enjoyable at high tide.

Taking gear to spearfish or crab can be a fun way to spice this site up if you have gone diving here before.  We have a list of gear that we use when we go spearfishing and crabbing over at our Gear We Use page.

[Underwater Map of Dive Site Coming Soon!]

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

There used to be a dive shop in Tillamook although we haven’t been able to confirm in a few years if it is still open or not.

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

Garibaldi and Rockaway Beach both have good restaurants.

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

Tillamook County Parks operates several campgrounds in the area.  We haven’t tried any of the local hotels so please let us know if you know of a good 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!

Florence – North Jetty SCUBA Park and Crab Hole

Crab Hole at the Florence north jetty SCUBA park is one of those dives that just about every SCUBA diver in Oregon has done at least once.  Many people do their last one or two open water certification dives at the SCUBA park.  Lots of people come over for an afternoon of diving from Eugene or a weekend of fun in Florence from Portland.  The very easy diver-friendly entrance, the relatively protected inner area of the dive site, and the plentiful crabs out in Crab Hole make it an excellent place to have some fun.  Even when the parking lot is full of divers, the site is big enough to accommodate everyone.

florence entrance
The entrance at the Florence Dive Park and Crab Hole is custom-made for SCUBA divers. Sometimes a little debris gets washed up into the top of the old fish ladder but it usually isn’t too bad.

Site Highlights:

This site has something for everyone.  Most people will first mention Crab Hole, a feature of the jetty construction where there is a small semi-circular hole in the bottom that crabs congregate in by the mesh bag full.  Many people will mention how easy the entrance and exit is.  An old fish ladder was installed at the site specifically to make it easier for SCUBA divers to get into and out of the water.  There isn’t an easier place to reach the water on any of the jetties in Oregon that we know of.  We also love looking at all of the micro marine life at this site.  There are a few protected spots that you can mostly get out of the current to go slow and check out nudibranchs, hermit crabs, barnacles, and other tiny things.

Nearest Town:

Florence, Oregon

GPS Coordinates:

44.016220, -124.131106

Special Directions to Site:

It’s a little tricky finding this site without a GPS or navigation map on your phone.  If you plug in the GPS coordinates listed above, your smart device will take you right to the site.

Otherwise, take 35th Street west from US101 in Florence.  Turn right onto Rhododendron Drive.  Turn left onto North Jetty Road.

Take the first left off of North Jetty Road into the large parking area.

Parking:

Parking has always been free and plentiful here.  It is not uncommon to see several of the dive shops from the Willamette Valley have their trailers parked here while they run classes at the dive site.

Imagery ©2017 Google, Map data ©2017 Google. An easy entrance, a bounty of crabs, and lots of parking — this dive site has it all! Crab Hole and the Florence SCUBA Park is a great place to go diving and get experience on the jetties of Oregon.

 

Site Orientation:

The site runs from southeast to northwest.  The entrance is roughly in the middle of the dive site.  There is a big old pipe underwater that is a good marker for knowing where to surface to take your exit.  Crab hole is roughly south from the entrance.

If you get too far out into the shipping channel not only will you find nothing but sand but you will also potentially find strong current and shipping traffic.

Entrances and Exits:

This is one of the easiest entrance/exit setups on the whole Oregon Coast.  No other jetty has it this easy.  You walk down some stairs into the old fish ladder where there are some benches you can sit on while you do final gear checks.  Then step out of the end of the old fish ladder into the water, put your fins and mask on, and away you go!  Just about anyone can do this dive site.

Salt/Fresh:

This is a salt water dive.

Shore/Boat:

This is a shore dive.

Normal Conditions:

Conditions here are usually good.  Occasionally there is some surge but it is rare.  Very occasionally a big storm can push wood and other debris up into the entrance area.  We once did not dive here because some big logs were rolling around right where we wanted to dive.

Nine times out of ten, this site is just fine to go diving.

logs in the water
In really bad storms, logs and other debris can find their way into the entrance area at the Florence SCUBA Park and Crab Hole. On days like these, we usually go to a different site in Florence rather than deal with the hassle of logs.

There is some current that you need to deal with especially on the western side of this dive site.  This is a good place to practice dealing with current on a jetty.

In crab hole itself, the current can swirl around in an unexpected way that can be disorienting to some people.  Be sure to watch your compass so that you can stay oriented with the jetty.

Normal Visibility:

Usually we get about 15 feet of visibility when we go diving here.  The bottom is sandy and can’t really be stirred up.  On a rare day with a very big high tide, you might push 20 feet of visibility.

Normal Temperature:

It’s usually between 45 and 55F here.

Best Time of Year:

This site can be dived all year long.  Crab Hole always has crab in it but check local crabbing regulations and make sure you have your permits in order.

Max Depth:

We have hit 55 feet in Crab Hole before.  Most of the site is around 40 feet though.

Suggested Special Training:

We have watched many open water divers finish their training dives here.  This site is accessible to anyone who is certified to go SCUBA diving in open water.

Difficulty of Dive:

This is an easy dive suitable for beginners who are freshly certified and for people who don’t like the physically demanding entries at other jetties on the Oregon Coast.  The only difficult part is the current can kick up and make your dive a little more strenuous.

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

20 feet if you get the best parking spot.

Surface Swim Length:

None unless you want to for some reason.

Special Site Notes:

It’s a good idea to fly a dive flag here to let boaters in the area know that you’re underwater.  A flashlight is a good idea when you’re in Crab Hole hunting for crabs and to peer in between the jetty boulders.  A good mesh bag is what you need to put crabs in.  We have our favorites for all of these gear items listed on our Gear We Use page.

The site can get very busy with divers.  Be sure you know what your buddy looks like underwater and stick close together.  We have seen it happen more than once where a buddy pair will surface with different buddies than when they started the dive!

[Underwater Map of Dive Site Coming Soon!]

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

There used to be a local dive shop in Florence although we haven’t been by in a couple years to confirm if it is still in operation.  The last time we were in, you could get air fills and very limited SCUBA gear.

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

The old waterfront in Florence has some great seafood restaurants that we like.

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

There are several camping areas around Florence that the Oregon State Parks and Recreation Bureau runs.

We haven’t tried any of the local hotels yet.  Please let us know if there is a good hotel in town that is SCUBA friendly that you have tried!

What Other People Have to Say About This Site:

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

Newport – OSU Research Dock

The OSU Research Dock is a fun place to dive if you like looking at the bottoms of ships or if you want to check out some of the marine life on the piers.  You absolutely MUST have permission from the correct authorities (we highly recommend having it in writing and carrying it with you) before you dive.  Due to the recent relocation of the NOAA fleet, the police are very sensitive to people diving here without permission.  Underwater you will find some interesting anemones, sometimes some lost research hardware, and we once found some bones we thought might have been human in closer to shore.

The R/V Oceanus
The R/V Oceanus at dock at night. Only people with special permission can dive on this site. The OSU Research Dock is a fun dive though so if it interests you, you might as well ask for permission.

Site Highlights:

The big highlight for us at the OSU Research Dock is diving underneath the R/V Oceanus, the R/V Elakha, and the R/V Pacific Storm when they are in port.  We have spent time looking over the boat hulls, inspecting the zincs, and seeing what interesting marine life grows on these ocean-going research labs.

There is also quite a bit of life that lives on the piers that hold up the dock.  We have seen quite a few anemones on the pilings.  If you head toward shore, things get shallow fast.  We found some bones out there once that kind of looked human but probably were from a deer.

Any Oregon State University (Go Beavs!) fans or students will want to dive this site to have bragging rights with their friends.  There aren’t that many universities with their own research dock!

Nearest Town:

Newport, Oregon.

GPS Coordinates:

44.624454, -124.045659

Special Directions to Site:

Take the aquarium exit from US101 and then follow the signs to the OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center.  When you get permission from the Center, they will tell you where you can park.

Parking:

There is parking along the shore where you most likely will get permission to park your car and assemble your gear.  If you know the right people, you might be able to park in the maintenance yard at the edge of the pier.  If you’re really lucky, you might get to park out on the dock itself although don’t count on that!

Imagery ©2017 Google, Map data ©2017 Google. The OSU Research Dock is a fun site to dive but you absolutely MUST ASK AND RECEIVE PERMISSION from the correct authorities. We strongly recommend you have it in writing and carry it with you. You don’t want to surface to a state cop waiting for you!

 

Site Orientation:

The dock runs roughly east-west.  To the south of the dock, there are some mud flats and the water intake structure for the Hatfield Marine Science Center’s many salt water tanks.  You’ll want to stick around the dock.

Entrances and Exits:

You probably will be entering and exiting along the south shore and then swimming out until the water is deep enough to start diving.  If you’re lucky and have permission, you might get to dive from the dock itself but don’t count on this.

Salt/Fresh:

This is a salt water dive.

Shore/Boat:

This is a shore dive although if you are attached to the Hatfield Marine Science Center, you might get to dive this from one of the research ships.

Normal Conditions:

Usually this site is pretty calm although as you head north from the dock, the current through the Yaquina River can really rip.

Normal Visibility:

At high tide, expect to have 10-15 feet of visibility.

Normal Temperature:

Depending on what the river is doing, you will see 45-55F in the water at the OSU Research Dock.

Best Time of Year:

Any time of year this dive site can be fun.

Max Depth:

If you go out into the channel to the north, you can sometimes find 30 feet although normally you’ll be around 20 feet near the docks.

Suggested Special Training:

Open water divers can successfully dive this site although you need to watch above you for the hulls of ships.  You don’t want to smack your head into one!

Difficulty of Dive:

This is a pretty easy and straightforward dive.  The hard part is getting permission to dive this site.

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

Depending on where you are allowed to park, you may have to walk over 1000 feet to get to an entrance.

Surface Swim Length:

Depending on where you’re allowed to enter, you may have to do a surface swim of over 1000 feet.

Special Site Notes:

You absolutely MUST 100% have written permission to dive this site!  If you don’t you may find yourself being questioned by state police when you surface.  It’s not a bad idea to fly a dive flag here to make sure anyone working on the research vessels at the OSU Research Dock are aware of your presence.  We have our tried and true dive flag listed on our Gear We Use page.

We suggest you try getting in touch with some of the ship operations people to see if you can get permission to dive this site.  If you’re a current or former Beaver, you have a better chance than if you’re a Duck.

[Underwater Map of Dive Site Coming Soon!]

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

In the South Beach area of Newport there is a good local dive shop that offers air fills, can repair gear, has gear for sale, and rents gear.

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

On both sides of the bay there are good restaurants and brewpubs.

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

We recommend South Beach State Park’s campground.  We particularly like the yurts on cold winter days.  If you know of a good SCUBA diver friendly hotel in Newport, please let us know!

South Beach State Park has great yurts that SCUBA divers can rent. The heaters in the yurts really are nice after a long day of diving around Newport.

What Other People Have to Say About This Site:

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

Florence – Woahink Lake East Boat Ramp

The Woahink Lake east boat ramp near Florence, Oregon is a great place to go if you want to use up some air in your tanks after diving the north jetty on the Siulsaw River (either the SCUBA park or further out on the jetty), you want to rinse your gear off in fresh water, you need to test some new equipment out in a forgiving environment, or you want to work on some skills.  The site is used often by local dive shops for open water and rescue diver courses although the site is big enough to accommodate several large groups diving at the same time.  Visibility is usually 20 feet before the water gets stirred up.  The bottom has a lot of silt that is easy to stir up and reduce visibility down to 5-10 feet.  The silt settles quickly though.  The main attractions at this site are a jumble of logs off to the right of the boat ramp and a sunken kayak a few hundred feet in front of the boat ramp.

Woahink Lake East Boat Ramp Area.
There are several conveniently located picnic tables next to the parking lot where you can assemble your equipment and gear up. If you have a larger group, part of the group can stay on shore here cooking lunch or heating up water for hot chocolate while the rest of your group is diving.

Site Highlights:

The main highlights of this site are the pickup sticks pile of sunken logs on the south side of the dive site and the intentionally sunken kayak out at the eastern edge of the dive site.  There is a variety of life that you might see such as crayfish, trout, the occasional freshwater shrimp, and loads of newts and salamanders.  If you dive around the boat ramp, you might find some gear dropped overboard from boaters.

Nearest Town:

Florence, Oregon

GPS Coordinates:

43.927329 N, -124.097511 W

 

Special Directions to Site:

The road to the dive site is clearly signed from US101.  If you are driving south on US101 from Florence, there is a center turn lane that makes turning left across traffic easier.  If you’re driving south on US101 and you see a lake off to your left, you’ve gone too far.  If you’re driving north on US101 and you see a light commercial/industrial park on your right, you’ve gone too far.

Look for signs for the Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial State Park and Canary Road.  Once you’re heading east on Canary Road, you will cross two small bridges.  After the second small bridge, take the first right.  If you cross a third larger bridge, you’ve gone too far.  You will drive down into a parking area.  Stay to the left where the road forks.  There is car parking along the eastern side of the lot (closest to the boat ramp).  We usually park under the trees next to the picnic tables.

Parking:

In the fall, winter, and spring we have never had trouble finding ample parking on the weekends.  We have not gone diving in the summer at this site so we can’t report on how packed it gets on hot summer days.  Day use parking is $5/vehicle.

Woahink Lake East Boat Ramp Site Overview.
Imagery © 2017 Google, Map data © 2017 Google.

Site Orientation:

The dive site is roughly oriented on N-S-E-W compass bearings.  When in doubt, head west and you will find the shore.  The jumble of sunken logs is due west of the big tree circled in orange in the image above.

Entrances and Exits:

The entrances and exits that we normally use require some careful foot placement to step up and down from the bank to the small beaches at each entrance point.  For those who have trouble with the big steps, you can enter and exit at the boat ramp assuming that there is no boater traffic.  It would be worthwhile to talk with a State Parks employee to ask for permission if you are using the boat ramp as an entrance and exit.

Salt/Fresh:

This is a fresh water dive and is perfect for rinsing your gear after diving at the jetty in Florence.

Shore/Boat:

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

Normal Conditions:

The lake is usually calm and quiet.  Boaters can add a level of complexity and you should post a dive flag .

Normal Visibility:

Usually you get 10-20 feet of visibility, depending on if it’s been raining lately and if sediment has washed in from the surrounding streams.  If you stir up the silt on the bottom, things can go down to 1-3 feet pretty quickly.  However, all you need to do is swim a little bit in any direction and you’ll be back in clearer water.  The silt settles back down to 5-10 feet of visibility after a few minutes and the visibility goes back to normal after a half hour or so.

Normal Temperature:

We have seen water temperatures here as low as 43F and as high as 52F.  Very occasionally you might experience a thermocline in the top foot or two of the water column if it has been heavily raining.  Diving in a dry suit with proper thermals or a 7mm farmer john-style wet suit is appropriate at this site.  We know a guy who used to dive here without a hood but we’d recommend full neoprene protection from the cold.

Best Time of Year:

Fall, winter, and spring are all great times of year to dive this site.  The park is quiet and you often will have the place to yourself.  If a SCUBA class is at this site, try the Woahink Lake west boat ramp or the Woahink sunken train wreck.

Max Depth:

If you really search for it, you can hit 40 feet by burying your gauge in the muck in a couple places at this dive site.  Normally you will hit between 25 and 35 feet depending on what part of the site you visit.

Suggested Special Training:

This site is appropriate for open water divers after they have completed their checkout dives and have been certified.

Difficulty of Dive:

This dive site is easy to dive.  Woahink Lake provides an excellent place for SCUBA divers of any physical ability.

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

From the parking lot to the entrance, you have about 150 to 200 feet to walk.  You descend down a gentle hill.  There is a big step down from the bank to the beach although you can use the boat ramp to enter if the step is too much for you.

Surface Swim Length:

You can wade out about 20 feet from shore to start your dive or kick out another 50 feet to descend down to about 15-20 feet deep.

Special Site Notes:

Watch for boat traffic especially in the summer.  A dive flashlight could be useful to look under logs for newts and salamanders.

[Underwater Map of Dive Site Coming Soon!]

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

There used to be a shop in Florence although we can’t confirm at this point if it is still open for business.  Please contact us if you know of any local shops for air fills and SCUBA gear!

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

The old town area of Florence has several good seafood restaurants.  Along the riverfront you can sometimes spot a group of river otters playing on the banks.

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

There are several state park campgrounds near the dive site.  We have not tried any of the hotels in Florence yet.  If you know of a good place to stay, please contact us.

What Other People Have to Say About This Site:

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

Trail Bridge Reservoir – Campground Bay

The campground at Trail Bridge Reservoir is a great place to stay for a day or two while you dive the lakes and reservoirs of the Central Cascades.  The bay directly in front of the campground is an easy and simple dive where you can hone your dive skills, play around in the grass and algae beds, and hunt for golf balls that other campers have chipped into the lake.  The water can be quite warm by Oregon Cascade standards in the summer when the bay heats up in the sun.

Practicing skills underwater at Trail Bridge Reservoir.

Site Highlights:

This Trail Bridge Reservoir site doesn’t have too many interesting things to look at underwater but it is pretty fun to hunt for golf balls.  This is a good site to practice skills, try out new gear, or burn the last air in your tanks after doing dives at other sites in the area.  There are also plenty of tree stumps to check out.

Nearest Town:

This dive site is in the middle of nowhere.  The closest larger town is Eugene/Springfield.  The little town of Rainbow is down the McKenzie River Highway but is not close.  You need to be self sufficient at this Oregon dive site.

GPS Coordinates:

44.278416 N, -122.048862 W

 

Special Directions to Site:

Most people will drive up the McKenzie River Highway (State Highway 126) from Eugene, Oregon to reach this dive site.  The left turn onto the National Forest road can be a little tricky if there is much traffic.  Signal and brake early for the turn.

Once you’re on the forest road, follow signs for the Trail Bridge Campground.

Imagery ©2017 Google, Map data ©2017 Google. Parking and camping are plentiful at this dive site.

Parking:

 

There is ample parking all along this dive site.  In the summer, many of the places to park are filled with weekend campers.  The boat ramp area to the west of the dive site usually has space to park and assemble dive gear if nowhere else does.  While the parking has been free for day use when we have gone SCUBA diving at this site, that may change in the future.  Be sure to check at the information kiosk for up-to-date details.

Site Orientation:

The dive site is laid out around a large shallow bay.  If you go north, you will hit land and a close-by exit.  If you go south, you will end up in somewhat deeper water and run into the Trail Bridge Dam.  Don’t get too close to the dam’s water control system or you could end up getting sucked over, under, or through the dam which would put an early end to your SCUBA diving career.

Entrances and Exits:

There are plentiful entrances and exits all the way around the west, north, and east sides of this dive site.  You can usually park your car right next to one of the entrances.  Some of the entrances and exits do have a big step down to the water but many are gentle slopes into the water.  The boat ramp provides access for divers with limited mobility.

Salt/Fresh:

This is a fresh water dive.

Shore/Boat:

This is a shore dive although you could launch a boat into the lake and practice boat diving if you wanted.

Normal Conditions:

The water level in Trail Bridge Reservoir can change rapidly depending on what the Eugene Water and Power Board is doing with the hydroelectric projects along the McKenzie River.  Over the course of an afternoon, we have seen the water level change by seven feet.

Normal Visibility:

Visibility is usually about 20 feet in this part of the reservoir.  The bottom has a lot of silt on it that can be easily stirred up leading to near zero visibility.  It can take a while for the silt to settle back down on the bottom.

Normal Temperature:

We have seen the shallower portions of the bay reach 55F in the summer while in the spring, the deeper portions can be 40F.  Usually the lake seems to be around 45F.

One of the ubiquitous beer cans that you can find on the bottom of this dive site. If you want a good project for your scout troop, collecting all of the aluminum cans and taking them to be recycled would be a great way to spend a weekend.

Best Time of Year:

We prefer diving Trail Bridge Reservoir in the fall although the spring and summer are also good times to go SCUBA diving here.

Max Depth:

If you go way out toward the dam, you can sometimes find 50 feet of water.  Usually though you will be between 15 and 30 feet deep.

Suggested Special Training:

This lake is at 2,000 feet above sea level.  That means that you need altitude diver training to dive the lake safely.  The site otherwise can be enjoyed by anyone from a fresh open water diver to experienced divers with thousands of logged dives.

Difficulty of Dive:

This dive site is very easy and accessible.  The only difficulty is that it is an altitude dive and you need the training to dive at altitude.

Distance of Walk to Entrance:

Depending on how far away you have to park from the shore, between 10 and 100 feet of walking might be needed.  If you surface at the wrong place (this is a great place to practice navigation skills), you might have to walk farther.

Surface Swim Length:

You will want to swim 50 to 100 feet away from shore to start your dive in deeper water although if you want, you can start diving as soon as the water is waist deep.

Special Site Notes:

The water level at Trail Bridge Reservoir can change suddenly, dramatically, and without warning.  On one dive, we started the dive with the lake full and came out after the dive with the water level dropped by five feet!

Motorboats do use this lake.  It might be a good idea to have a diver down flag.  We have our favorite diver down flag listed on the Gear We Use page.

[Underwater Map of Dive Site Coming Soon!]

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

There are no nearby SCUBA shops at Trail Bridge Reservoir.  The closest shops are in Eugene and Springfield over an hour away.  You need to be self sufficient at this site.

Nearby Restaurants We Like:

There is a limited hot food service at the resort at Clear Lake up the McKenzie River Highway.  Otherwise there are a couple restaurants in Marion Forks and Rainbow.  Each little town is more than a half hour away from the dive site.

Nearby Places to Camp and Diver-Friendly Hotels:

The cabins at the resort at Clear Lake have been used by divers in the past.  Be sure to ask what to do with your dive gear and then follow what the resort staff tell you to do.  We want to be able to keep using these cabins!

All around the dive site is public camping.  Usually you can find a good site to setup your tent or park your travel trailer.  If all of the good sites are full, there is more camping at Clear Lake and Smith Reservoir.  You can also do primitive camping in the National Forest although you should check with the local ranger office for any fire restrictions or camping restrictions due to logging activity.

What Other People Have to Say About This Site:

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