Scuba Diving In Minnesota? Yep you heard me right, Minnesota the land of 10,000 lakes, is bound to have a couple of good dive sites right? Well you’ll be surprised at how many decent dive sites there are. Even though inaccessible through the winter season, most of these sites come alive from May-September when the weather finally warms up. I researched a few on my last trip to Minneapolis as I was itching to dive not expecting to find much, and was quite impressed with what the Midwest had to offer Scuba Divers. From scores of wreck dive sites far up in Duluth right down to lake Calhoun in the Twin Cities area, Minnesota has a great variety of freshwater diving. I decided to share a few of the top dive sites in Minnesota.
Cuyuna State Recreational area
The Cuyuna State Recreational area is located near Crosby, Ironton and Deerwood approximately 2 1/2 hours Northwest of Minneapolis. This region is home to some of the best freshwater mine diving in the Midwest, housing several mine lakes and upwards of 40 feet of underwater visibility. Created by the flooding of abandoned iron ore mines over the years, there are over 50-55 unique dive sites in the Cuyuna Recreational Area. A unique feature of diving here is the opportunity to dive in underwater forests that were trees that grew in and around the mines before it flooded. Many of the mine lakes are 200 and more feet deep and offer something for every kind of diver.
There is a diverse variety of aquatic life ranging from Rainbow trout, northern pike, walleye, bass, trout sunfish and turtles many of which were introduced into the area by the Department of Natural Resources once the mines flooded up.
Apart from the old mineshafts and mining artifacts scattered around the lake, people have added attractions to the lake like abandoned vehicles and playground sets which makes the dives even more pleasurable.
One of the more popular sites in Cuyuna is the Crosby Mines, which offers great visibility a water temperature of around 70 degrees, underwater forests and abundant fish.
I found that the Minnesota School of Diving (www.mndiving.com) offers the best and most diverse range of sites and trips in the Cuyuna State Park, and is definitely worth looking up.
The Square Lake near Stillwater, Minnesota, about 45 minutes east of the twin cities is one of the most popular dive destinations in the Twin Cities area.
There is an abundance of marine life inhabiting the lake, which also has a few training platforms, couple sunken boats, canoes and a tail section off a Cessna plane as popular attractions.
The depth of the lake is not very deep at around 30-40 feet, but offers decent visibility of around 10-25ft.
One of the biggest attractions for divers is the Annual Treasure Dive is at Square Lake County Park, organized by Smith Diving around May each year that has become a longstanding tradition to mark the arrival of summer. Divers search the lake bottom looking for “treasures” (small objects) each piece of which earns an entry into the grand prize drawings.
Two local dive operators that provide popular fun dive trips to the Square Lake are www.smithdiving.com and www.scubacenter.com they offer regular dive trips as well as rental of scuba diving equipment.
Here are few sites near the Twin Cities area that are popular with Divers:
Max Depth: 82ft Visibility: 15-20ft -Multiple shore accesses.
Max Depth: 87ft Visibility: 10-15ft -Muliple shore accesses
Max Depth: 87ft Visibility: 10-20ft, long surface swim.
Max Depth: 113ft Visibility: 10-15ft
Little Long Lake
Max Depth: 76ft Visibility: 10-15ft
Max Depth: 91ft Visibility: 5-25ft
photos by Elkman, Nevin