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Freshwater experiences…
brokenogre - 7/15/2013 10:23 PM
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Freshwater diving can be incredibly rewarding; not better than saltwater; simply as rewarding as saltwater. There are many places to dive freshwater around the world, but I specifically want to focus on an area on the Arizona/ Nevada border in the United States. Running from Hoover Dam to Davis Dam, it sits at an elevation of about 647 feet above sea level, and encompasses some 28 thousand acres of freshwater as a reservoir created by the Davis Dam. Although the water here eventually flows south into the Havasu area, and then Parker and Parker Dam; the visibility underwater and the surface and depth temperatures are vastly different from it’s southern water bodies. Laughlin and the Bullhead City area have used it for recreation and tourism for decades, it is called Mohave, and it is a part of the much larger Colorado River System. Administered and policed by the National Park Service as part of the Lake Mead National Park Area, Lake Mohave is a treasure trove of freshwater dives that many living in southwest of the United States may not realise. There are the fish to begin with, a vibrant eco-system of species of bass, carp, catfish, and crawdads call the various coves and islands their homes. With an average depth of 75 ft; although you can typically find well over 75 ft in many areas; it is a large, fun, safe place to dive.
At Cabinsite point, the local divers have built a SCUBA park for divers to enjoy. A school bus, van, Christmas trees, two boats, and a five foot skeleton called SCUBA Steve (or Capt. Jack depending on the diver you ask) who points the way to a buoyancy course; compliments an area with plenty to see and do, and is perfect for a professional and a novice to practice their skills and see the wonders of freshwater marine life. There are many other places on the lake, a chasm of sorts north of Cabinsite Point with three boats lined up succession. The last boat, at 100 feet, creates an opportunity for divers looking for fun deep water, or dives for a deep certification. The local dive center, Dive Shack USA, is run by experienced PADI professionals; who are also true locals; so they know every nook and cranny of this beautiful freshwater destination. Their hospitality and knowledge of the lake knows no bounds, and they are always ready to answer questions that any diver or boater may have about the area. You do not want to miss stepping into this Dive Center if you have ventured the waters at Mohave, besides it’s the only place to get tanks filled in the area, so go see them and chat them up, they have all sorts of information on the lake, its’ history, and promising dive sites.
There is a fee to get into the Park Area. Check with the National Park Service before going through the gate as different vehicle types and boats have different rates. I highly recommend Cabinsite Point myself (it is my absolute favourite place on the whole lake). It makes for incredibly easy shore diving; with good shallow entry, and good terrain directly off the beach; making entry and exit from the water easy. A bit of advice, once you are finished unloading your gear, park above the beach in the designated parking area; leaving your vehicle on the beach is a no-no (unless loading/ unloading), and a Park Ranger will probably be amused at how you’re underwater and he’s towing your vehicle… lol just kidding; they’ll warn you first. But it does clog the beach up, as others are able to use the beach area as a designated ramp (no kidding there are signs stating thus); so park your vehicle; avoid the hassle.
Temperatures change year round, summer can see well over 110 degrees for air, with surface temperatures remaining at 75 – 80 degrees on the Fahrenheit scale. Keep that in mind in June, July, and August when the exposure protection you’ve brought can dehydrate you on the surface. Winter is a entirely different story. September through November sees changes in temperature as Monsoon season in the are has it’s different affects. One week you could be fine in a 3/5 mm with tropical gloves; another week you need a hood and gloves, and a 7mm; especially into the dead of winter. January, February, March, and April I’m almost always using a 7mm and a hood; but as I always say, don’t take my word for it, check the NPS site or the Lake Mohave Resort website for current surface temperatures and make your own call on what you need to be comfortable. Visibility can range from 75 ft to 15 ft depending on the time of year. Night dives are exceptional here, the water clarity is very good for freshwater in that area.
If you live in the Los Angeles, Phoenix, Tucson, Salt Lake City, or Flagstaff areas; this is an easy day drive for you. A hotel would probably be required or you could camp at designated areas. For those living in Las Vegas; you suck! You’re less then two hours away! Lol, you divers have it the easiest. It is such a hard choice to decide between Las Vegas Bay at Lake Mead, Lake Mohave in Laughlin, or Lake Tahoe near Reno; aw you poor babies, life must be hard. But that is another beauty; Mohave is less than two hours away from all those fine entertainment and gaming venues in Vegas! Extended weekends couldn’t get any better; Vegas and diving! I have heard of dive centers in Vegas, but I have never gone myself… Anyways, check out this freshwater gem in the Northern part of AZ and enjoy a freshwater experience seemingly made just for divers.
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