Lake Pleasant has some of the best inland scuba diving in the USA with all of the rock walls, canyons and underwater structures, like the Old Waddell Dam. The reservoir covers about 10,000 acres reaching depths of 260 feet when the lake is full and offers interesting terrain for all levels of scuba divers from beginner Open Water Divers to seasoned Technical Divers.
Most of the scuba diving happens on the east and west shores at the southern end of the lake. On the west shore, the popular areas include Desert Tortoise and the 10-lane boat ramp/ Biesmeyer Point. Vista Point is the most popular site on the eastern shore. The west shore dive sites are within Lake Pleasant Regional Park, Maricopa County and Vista Point is part of Pleasant Harbor Marina, run by the city of Peoria. There is a $6 fee per vehicle to enter either location.
The day is a Sunday in mid-October and we can see the reflections of the saguaro studded hills in the water that extends from Vista Point into the main body of Lake Pleasant in sunny Arizona. We are the first scuba divers to arrive at the dive site and unload our equipment onto the picnic table conveniently located near the trail that winds down to the water. There is a Blue Heron standing like a sentry in the shallows and several fish are surfacing in the otherwise still water. We are not alone for long and other divers arrive filling the parking lot and soon several red dive flags festoon the glassy surface of the lake. Many of the scuba divers are attending classes to earn their open water certifications and others are here to practice skills or to explore the submerged canyons and forests that compose the underwater world of the lake.
My dive partner is an experienced diver and owner of a local dive shop. We haul our scuba tanks down to the edge of the water and don our gear. After deciding on a compass heading, and a buddy check we give each other and “okay” hand signal and a “thumbs down” and begin our descent into an underwater world of rocky outcrops populated with Striped Bass, Sun Fish, Catfish and Carp. We are following a heading to “The Wall” where we will descend into even deeper water. Recently, divers have made a traverse from our location near Vista Point to the Old Waddell Dam.