Did you know that Colorado has the highest concentration of certified scuba divers per capita than any other state in the US? Yes, this is the landlocked, mountainous state that’s best known for skiing, rock climbing and mountain biking.
But it’s true, and once you see that there’s actually great places to scuba dive in Colorado, not to mention the state’s home to such an athletic, outdoorsy population – it kind of makes sense why there are so many certified scuba divers in the Centennial State (although you really think it would be like Florida or some other state with a coastline).
I personally moved to Colorado to take advantage of the mountains. I love snowboarding and rock climbing. But I am a certified scuba diver, so I should probably look into what scuba diving opportunities are waiting for me in the state I now call home.
5 Places to Scuba Dive in Colorado
According to PADI’s website, it’s very common for people to go diving with the sharks at the Denver Aquarium. That sounds fun and all, but today I’m going to focus on outdoor locales where you can enjoy some world-class scuba diving.
A typical day of scuba diving in Colorado is sure to include both high elevation and fresh water. Sitting at just over 6,000 feet in elevation, Carter Lake is no exception. While average visibility is just around 7 feet, divers can take advantage of year-round diving here.
Blue Mesa Reservoir
Boasting 14 miles of surface area, Blue Mesa Reservoir is Colorado’s largest body of water and hosts some great diving opportunities. The best time to hit the reservoir is between May and September, although visibility increases in the winter months. That being said, average visibility is between 10 and 25 feet, giving divers a good view of the submerged remnants of towns, roads and bridges.
- Dillon Pinnacles
- Elk Creek Marina
- Shore-based diving is limited, boat diving opportunities are unlimited
- Nearest source for tank fills is Montrose
- Watch your altitude conversions
- Park regulations stipulate that boats using the lake abide by divers-down flag
- Check with a ranger before diving
Another great freshwater dive spot is Turquoise Lake, just outside of Leadville, CO. Depth ranges between 20 and 100 feet, while visibility holds around 20 feet.
Because Turquoise Lake is just two hours away from Denver, it’s a great day-trip for locals or visitors looking to get a quick dive in.
Of all the freshwater diving that Colorado has to offer, Jefferson Lake is considered to be the best dive site. The lake sits 10,000 feet above sea level, and the cold and clear mountain water offers visibility from 20 to 40 feet, depending on the day.
The water stays cold year-round, so make sure you’ve got your dry suit dialed in, although a 7 mm suit might be enough to get by during the summer months.
The Aurora Reservoir is another great site for divers in Colorado. The area is open every day from April 1st to October 31st – no night diving. Aside from needing a day or annual pass, there’s no additional fee for scuba diving. Please note that you’ll need to bring your own scuba gear as rentals aren’t available.
To find the scuba dive area, head to the northeast part of the lake. Look for the East Lot sign that’s marked with a scuba icon, and hang a left. There’ll be a road that takes you to the east parking lot below the dam. Take the steps up to the top of the dam, then head left to the east end of the lake. You’ll see the scuba area that’s marked off with buoys.
When to Scuba Dive in Colorado
There’s no getting around it, Colorado’s water sources stay cold all year round, even at the height of summer.
The best months to scuba dive in Colorado are June, July and August, as the water stays in and around 60 degrees during those months. April through October though will keep you in that 45 degree range if you’re willing.
Make sure you’re taking the necessary precautions when it comes to regulating your body temperature. Get the right dry suit, wear thermal undergarments, and try to go during the warmer months if you know you have a tendency to get and stay cold (like me).
Helpful Resources for Scuba Divers
Love scuba diving? Check out my these helpful resources!