Pleasant Dive Sites
This information is compiled from posts on ScubaBoard.com, google maps, the web and my own information. I asked permisson from posters, others and I share this information to you. I hope you find it helpful. If you have any info to add or want to share new info, please let us know.
Old Waddell Dam
The old dam is easy to find with a dept finder. Just come out north about 700 yards from new dam, look at both sides of the lake (when the water is low), line up the two hills that made the old embutments and you are there. When the lake is up, the top of the dam will be at a depth of about 100’. When the lake is down you’ll find the top of the old dam is at 35' to 40’. The depths off both sides (north and south) will be about 150 to 175'. The old river channel will be the deepest point.
found some great photos of the 'old' waddell dam as it stood and pics
of the breaching when the new dam was finished. PhxSki, Bill W., also directed me to several old
pics at the library of
Below is an old topo of the 1922 dam and spillway.
33° 51.243’ N
112° 16.088’ W
This dive report is from Garrett.http://www.getbentscuba.com/blog/2006/11/old-waddell-dam-lake-pleasant.php
10/28/06: 12 of us chartered the local dive boat, the for a scuba diving excursion to the Old Waddell Dam. This dam is completely submerged and was breached in 1992 when the new Waddell/Pleasant Dam was completed about 1/2 mile up-stream, which added about 6,300 surface acres to the lake, tripling it in size. When the old concrete dam was built in 1927 is was the world's largest multi-arch dam. On this day the top of the dam was at a depth of 63'.
1st Dive: My buddy, Weldon and I explored the Arches on the down river side (see pic left), pictures don't do it justice size wise, they are enormous, probably 25-30' deep concaves, hit a max depth of 107', could've gone down a lot further. You can still see wood and nails everywhere from the construction in 1927.
2nd Dive: Buddy and I traversed the breach (see pic), it's 224 ft. long, we thought it would never end, someone was kind enough to string a guideline across the breach or we wouldn't have attempted it. Apparently the breach is 70' deep so the bottom of the breach would be at approx. 133', I have no idea how deep the rubble is. On the other side of the breach we explored the up river side. Made our long way back across the breach, did some further exploring, max depth reached 89'.
I did a lot of research on the old Waddell Dam built in 1922. Upon completion, the historic Waddell Dam was the largest multiple-arch dam in the world. The dam rose almost 200 feet above bedrock, and spanned more than 2,000 feet across the Aqua Fria River valley.
Upon completion of the new Waddell Dam in 1994, the old dam was breached to allow water through. A 224-foot wide breach was cut and two dome sections were dropped into Lake Pleasant in December of 1992. The breaching allowed the new expanded lake to fill in front of the new dams.
The remains of the old Waddell Dam lie an average of 65 feet beneath modern-day Lake Pleasant. Except for the two-arch breach, the old dam stands complete, about a half mile north of the “New” Waddell Dam.
Diving the old dam requires A minimum of Advanced Open Water Scuba Certification because the depth often exceeds 60 feet. On the South end of the dam you can peer into the “rooms” formed by the huge “arches and buttresses” of the dam. Diving to the south end is not for the timid. The dive begins at the top of the dam. From there, you move out over the old river canyon, and dive along the arches on the face of the dam to the “breach.” There is a rope that leads from one side of the breach to the other. You can swim through the breach around to the back(south) side of the dam, and cruise along the buttresses, looking up into the overhangs and caverns formed by this magnificent structure.
1702 marker is a deep wall dive. A few weekends ago, I did a wall dive
at the "1702" site. I could be wrong, supposed to be a little
wreck at the bottom of the sign (120'+) and some little caves in the
wall on the way down.
It's at the north end of the lake, the sign (white speck in the middle of the photo) on the side of the peninsula says, "1702", the high water mark. It's a (deep) wall dive.
Most of the shore diving is done from:
Vista Point and the "Picnic Table".
New dam by the boat ramp. Lake really needs to be full to enter.
Spillways (West of the ten lane boat ramp)
Desert Tortoise Road and the corresponding peninsulas.
Scorpion Bay (closed for now)
There are about 20 different dive sites that we go to on the boat. The Sherriff's Ramp, the Sherriff's Dock are two of the most popular (not too far from Dirty Shirt). The Old Dam is very popular to get deep. There is also a spot (a small sand bar “the hump”) just north of the old dam that has excellent visibility and lots of marine life. One of my favorites is a small pinnacle called Harry's Hideaway (not too far from the altitude marker) that has a nice flat surface for OW students. Right now it is in about 30 feet of water with great visibility.
The old topo above is before the old 1922 dam was breached. As you can see, Vista Point is roughly in the shape of a dogs head (in red current shore line). “The Trench” (in yellow), is a ravine that ran down to the river. The dark lines are 100’ apart, each line 20’. The area in green is now about 180 to 240 feet deep (when the water is up). Green indicates trees. Yes, they are still down there. As you can see, depth can be had quickly here.
vista point is out of the natural boating lane. It also has a nice
gradual drop off so you can work on skills at 15' - 25' without
swimming far from shore. However, we saw depths of 75' without to
much of a swim, probably 50 yards max. I know it goes deeper”. Steve
“The problem with Vista point is that there is one dirt cutout (it is not even a road) that gives you direct access to the water line. If someone is parked on it then you have to park on top of the road and hike down a fairly steep embankment (about 10') to get to the water line. That is what Steve and I had to do. Kind of a pain with all your gear, but it can be done.” Michael RudBob
I would still favor the east side over say desert tortoise. The water seems to always be clearer on that side. Plus you can find depth easier.
You can only get in on the North side. Drive up the hill at the entrance of the Marine docks and drive around to the north side. There is a "driveway" into the water at the west end but is usually filled with students on the weekend. I personally like to go to the East end of the road just before the road starts going back up.
you take a heading to the end point of the opposite bank (I think its
about 330) you will get into a slot that goes out to a ledge which
drops from bout 80 to 110.
Hope to see you guys out there. I'm out there pretty much every saturday morning. My partner and I dive CCRs so we are hard to miss.
Last dive 75min
Vista Point this morning with Clay and Mike. Beautiful morning,
little wind and few boaters. Water was warm down to 25 feet.
Visibility 15 to 25 feet. Water level a few feet lower than last week
at this time.
Came across a monster catfish lying under a fallen tree. The head on this thing was at least a foot wide, maybe 40 to 50 pounds. Alot of bass in the shallower water.
Just north of the point, we came across what appeared to be a natural wall. However, at the base of the wall, we discovered part of the paved boat ramp. Never-the-less, it was more structure than I have seen anywhere else in the lake.”
PhxSki - Bill W
“Hi you guys , if you go down the wall at Vista Point and keep heading west you will run into a track. My friends and I figured it must extend to the marina. at first we thought it was a rail road track , but on further investigation it seems to be some sort of an I-beem. It runs North and South. Have fun Rick P.S. If you start your dive from the table and head west to NW you will find it with no problem.” Desert Eel
I get quite an adrenaline rush by searching out the large catfish that hide inside the deep holes and crevices along the rocky walls of the lake in early summer.
Spring Canyon Landing,East of Vista Point [also known as sunrise Cove]
The spring canyon area would be optimal for an OW student as that cove has at least 200' of length between 10 - 25' in depth before it drops off. This is not good for AOW if you going to do a deep dive because you burn lots of air just swimming to and from the length of this channel. However, with all the boats putting in there, unless you could get all your training dives done by 10:00 a.m. (or maybe even earlier) I would not risk it.
-We found a deep trench that was a lot farther out than I remember now that the lake level has come up. At the end of our second dive we were coming up from the trench again. The "banks" of the trench are at about 30 feet. We were swimming about half way up the side of the trench looking up into the sunlight. We saw a huge shadow swim across our path along the top of the trench. Then it swam back. Further on we got close enough to see the size of the fish. It was huge. I think it was a bass but I don't know my fish that well. It seemed to be guarding it's nesting area. When we were almost to the top of the trench wall we saw 4 or 5 smaller fish trying to get past the big guy. There must have been a ladyfish thereabouts We hovered for a while watching the whole thing play out. The little guys finally gave up and swam further along the top of the trench to a rock wall where they joined a few more unlucky bachelors.
We ended up moving around closer to the real Vista Point area for our third dive. There were just to many boats at the landing. They were either launching or coming back in. Dive flag violation seemed to be the sport of the afternoon.
Steve - ScubaSteve2000
done 180' by the Dam (not the old dam), diving next to the main
(south) marina boat ramp. (Winter)
I've done 150' diving in the marina (Spring)
I've done 140' at Vista Point (Winter and Summer)
The best I have gotten on the west side is 70' over by Desert Tortoise Road. (Spring)
Please keep in mind that this was during the winter, thus ramp
traffic is SIGNIFICANTLY less. It's almost impossible to do this in
the summer. And, summer weekends are out!
You drive about half way down the ramp.
Drop off your equipment on the left hand side.
Drive back up the ramp and park in the parking lot by the sailboat repair shop.
Walk down the ramp to your equipment.
Hump your equipment down the hill (in the winter it is about 20 to 30 feet below the ramp). Dive in!
At about 30' (Winter/Spring), there is a channel. Follow the channel to Southwest. You will then come to the riverbed, turn south.
As you get close to the dam, it will get darker.
You want a powerful light. A lot of debris at the surface almost makes this an overhead environment.
Since the flow runs toward the dam, debris collects in the area.
Silt is pretty thick on the bottom, although the water is fairly clear (usually).
This is typically an expert level dive for qualified tech divers. Do not try this dive without the proper training and equipment. Be cognizant that this is a working dam!
BE EXTRA CAREFUL WITH SURFACING…HEAVY BOAT TRAFFIC AREA…IT'S RIGHT NEXT TO THE MARINA ENTRANCE AND EXIT.
ps - boat fishing is very popular in this area. The debris almost acts as an artificial reef.
Courtesy of John Flanders Academy of Scub
DT Desert Tortoise
Desert Tortoise Rd
This site is heavily used by dive shops for there classes. It is starting to be discovered by “non-divers”. It can get quite crowded as the morning goes by.
There is a channel that is accessible during the late summer/fall (low lake level) months, when you can drive to the far east end of desert tortoise/two cow (facing burro island). Dive NNE towards the Sheriff's docks and you will find a walls at about 60' that drops to over 100'. Found it with Rob (dive-aholic) one year, forgot about it, then stumbled across it again last year (I think that was my last lake dive ). It's probably accessible right now.
If you remember where that big sinkhole was a couple years ago, the walls are NNE of it starting around 60-70' Garrett
It's a little more NW of the star but you can see the contour lines in the pic. Nice walls, overhangs, etc.
We checked out Desert Tort. but that place was a zoo. So we went over the ridge to Two Cow instead, the cove is ok, we found the road and followed it north hit about 60 feet or so (65 max Nitek), found some walls not much else. Second dive we swam out towards Deseert Tort. followed the road, saw a big Catfish and the viz got real bad fast as we went around the bend.
The spillways are just to the west of the 10 lane boat ramp. It's kind of an unofficial campground for people with travel trailers and RVs because it is cement. There are two, one dirt, one cement.
One of my favorite sites. Biesmeyer Point looks like old “Sparky” the ASU Sun Devil (my alma mater). Head with horns. Off the right horn (east) there is a road that goes underwater and comes up about 3/4 of a mile away. When the water is high, the deepest depth is 100'. A 5 foot culvert goes under the road and a George Washington statue is in the right hand lane. Nice rocks and formations off the east side.
10 lane Boat RampEither side of the ramp you can get some depth.... This last weekend we dove on the east side of the ramp...the right side.... there is a gated ramp off to the right...we carried our gear do the bottom of that road where the gate is and dove off the left side .... you will drop down and follow the bottom as it continues down several drop offs...to a sandy bottom...follow the bottom to your left and you just keep going down.... you will be getting closer to the shore line in between the ramp and the gated road that you came down.... We hit 94 ft there...
Ron “Reef Man”
To get to Dirty Shirt, drive past South Park Rd. (the road you turn on to get to Desert Tortoise). After you loop around on that road and start heading towards the lake again you'll see a road on the left. That goes to Dirty Shirt. It's easy to miss because you almost have to u turn to get to it. If you make it all the way to the Ranger Station, just turn around and look for it on the way back. On weekends you'll see a lot of activity there too.
Go to this link for a fantastic over view of Scorpion bay by Garrett.
The best dive site in LP May be gone forever because of new marina
33º 52' 21.12" N
112º 17' 37.18" W
Is (Was) know as some of the best diving at lake Pleasant. New marina owner MAY let diving continue, but completion of the new marina may be a year or more in the future.
“This spot is diveable while the lake is full; early spring until mid summer. This dive site is referred to as "The Wall" because depending on the lake level a wall starting at 15-20' drops to depths of over 60' in some places. The wall has many crevices, overhangs and small caverns to explore. There is a sharp thermocline generally around 30-35' where the temp and viz drop dramatically. The fun thing is as the lake level drops the thermocline stays a consistent depth and you are able to explore more of the wall without having to endure the drop of temp and loss of viz, making subsequent dives unique.
The wall is also somewhat of a fish habitat and many of the lake species can be observed here. Some of the fish that are regularly spotted are Bass, Bluegill, Carp, Catfish and Crawdads. The fish have no fear of divers and some show a genuine curiosity.” Garrett
Giant stride into Scorpion Bay
Scorpion Bay (water level too low to dive)
Scorpion Bay caverns
Ranger station Wall - This seems to be Scorpion Bay
This is how you get there: as soon as you turn left from peninsula rd towards the road that goes to dirty shirt, you have to take the first gravel road to the right, drive on that road as far as you can get, which will take you close to the Ranger station, that is the place. you turned towards dirty shirt, then took the 1st right.. till you couldn’t go any further, then got in the water.
to the rocky tip that is gonna be on your right and dive to the left
towards dirty shirt. you
can't beat this place,
if you stay from 40' to 25' you'll see lots of walls and overhangs, I
haven't gone too much deeper than that just because is cold now, but
I’m sure that it gets pretty deep there.
I’m glad you liked the spot, water is really high now. I haven't dove that deep there yet. I usually stay at around 45 to 25 now that is cold. Night diving there is even nicer than day, a lot of fish come out.
Dove the wall by the Ranger station Saturday. Definitely one of the better sites in Pleasant. Walked into the cove and dropped down on the ledge at about 10'. Went over the ledge and dropped to the bottom at about 60'. Water temp 54 deg. No significant thermocline felt. Viz about 10'. A little bit of a current pushing us into the wall. Found a couple of small pseudo caverns at the bottom of the wall, maybe about 8' of penetration before hitting the back or getting too small to go any farther. Definitely a repeat site. Also looking forward to checking this site out in August or September when it's dry.
has anyone ever dove to the cmp facility that is at the bottom of the lake somewhere? submerged CMP facilities, I went ahead and e-mail the park asking about it and they told me that the facilities were removed due to low water hazard, the only thing left is old roads and some slabs of cement.
is supposed to be a set of rail road tracks at 330º off Vista
Point. I don't remember the distance.
There is supposed to be a village someplace underwater, I think that the tracks go through it and again, I don't remember the particulars.
I've explored several deep trenches on both sides of the lake. The deepest I found was a few weeks ago with Josh (AZdiver23) due north off the Two Cow Cove area. We were at 70 feet in pretty clear conditions (30'vis) and the beam of my dive light couldn't penetrate to the bottom. There were huge bolders strewn around like a giant baby's playpen. We had reached our turn around presure so we couldn't explore it.
RR tracks should be near the 1920 quarry / cement stations
The village should be the old camp for the workers for the 1926 dam.
I would also think that some of the trenches are from/do to the old washes.
I remember from years go - being up on the agua fria (30-40 miles back from the lake) and seeing bolders one year being moved the next - these bolders were ~20 feet in diameter and had been moved 20-30 feet over a year.
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