Often overlooked for the vast depths of the sea, freshwater dives sites across the U.S. offer plentiful opportunities for divers not living near the coast. In addition to hosting a unique array of aquatic life, conditions at freshwater dive sites can be superior to saltwater diving, most notably for improved visibility. Many freshwater dive sites also lead to underwater caves, which makes them attractive to cave divers from all over the world. There are some terrific freshwater dive sites in the US, and this selection features sites that are all definitely worth checking out.
Mermet Springs, IL
One of the easiest freshwater dive sites in the U.S. to explore, Mermet Springs in southern Illinois was the location of the plane crash scene in the movie “U.S. Marshalls,” with the 727 jet from the film still occupying the bottom of the lake. The tail of the plane sits at a depth of only 15 feet with the nose reaching approximately 50 feet. There are depths here for all levels of divers, from novice to tech, and the park has a sizable collection of sunken items. A full-service dive shop, restaurants, and hotels make this dive site a great weekend destination. Open year-round!
Pennyroyal Scuba, Hopkinsville, KY
Ranging in depths up to 120 feet and with visibility to over 50 feet, Pennyroyal Scuba Center Blue Springs Resort in Hopkinsville, Kentucky is open during the warmer months of April to October. A 22-acre spring-fed freshwater quarry, Pennyroyal offers divers over 40 sunken treasures to explore, including boats, a helicopter and RV.
The only one of the five Great Lakes located entirely within the Unites States, and perhaps the most extraordinary off all the freshwater dive sites in the U.S.; there are over 400 wrecks scattered across the bottom of Lake Michigan. With over 20 of the wrecks less than five miles from the Chicago, Illinois shoreline, divers have all the amenities of one of the world’s most famous cities to satisfy all their needs while exploring an underwater world full of sunken ships.
Lake Ouachita, Arkansas
The second cleanest lake in the U.S., according to the EPA, Lake Ouachita in Arkansas has an abundance of limestone caves, fauna and flora to discovery. With visibility up to 60 feet, and as one of the few states in the U.S. to allow spear fishing, divers with an Arkansas fishing license can catch their own dinner. Adjacent to Hot Springs, Arkansas, there are numerous amenities and three dive shops in the immediate area.
Clear Lake, Oregon
Eighty-five miles from Eugene, Oregon, Clear Lake is arguably one of the most unique freshwater dive sites in the U.S. — if not the world. Living up to its name, visibility in Clear Lake can reach to 200 feet on a good day and its caves and craters can be explored after dark with only the moon for lighting. Campsite, cabins and boat rentals are available with several dive shops in the area.
Photo via PMC 1stPix