Where to Scuba Dive in Arizona
Visibility in Lake Mohave is exceptional in winter.
Renowned for natural wonders such as the Grand Canyon, Arizona is a state rich with outdoor experiences, including hiking and virtually every imaginable watersport. The Colorado River forms most of Arizona’s western border, winding southwestward through human-made reservoirs that serve as unique dive sites in the middle of the desert.
Along the river, dive sites are accessible at Lake Mead and Lake Havasu, but the clearest is surprisingly beautiful Lake Mohave, part of Lake Mead National Recreation Area. An annual national parks pass provides unlimited access to the lake along with the entire U.S. National Park System.
To reach Lake Mohave, drive from Las Vegas through small mountains and descend into the reservoir valley, where emerald water awaits. The lake is extremely popular with boaters, kitesurfers and other watercraft in summer. Although winter is colder, it is largely free from tourists and boasts the best visibility. Expect easy shore diving surrounded by mountainous desert landscape. The sunken boats, van and school bus are all nearly visible from the surface; wrecks found north of Cabinsite Point are marked by a buoy. Boats can be chartered for access to more destinations in the lake. The nearest town is Kingman, a railroad stop along Route 66, where you can hike to get a closer look at volcanic features on the 7-mile Monolith Garden Trail.
After exploring the sites around Lake Mohave, drive just over three hours south to Lake Pleasant, near Phoenix, in the Sonoran Desert. Wild donkeys roam the park amid more than two dozen species of cactus. This lake is often used as a dive training site, so expect to see other divers on weekends. Lake Pleasant is not as clear as Lake Mohave but still boasts an average 20 feet of visibility. Epic Dive Charters runs trips to the dam, Tech Island and wreck sites. After diving, be sure to visit one of Phoenix’s renowned Mexican restaurants. Keep in mind that this locale has an arid climate, so stay hydrated and avoid peak summer temperatures when possible.
Dive options are scattered all across the arid state.
This easy shore dive in Lake Mohave features two sites in one. Begin with deeper wrecks on the north side and finish on the south side with the school bus and van. All dives are generally shallower than 60 feet, depending on lake levels.
Book a small boat charter with Dive Shack USA to reach a series of wrecks and wall dives on Lake Mohave that can reach depths of 92 feet. All dives are within recreational limits. The water is clear, but bring a light to see details.
Take a dive flag and shore dive from either Vista Point or Sun
rise Cove near Pleasant Harbor Marina. The gently sloping entrance makes for easy diving past sunken trees. Camping in Lake Pleasant Regional Park provides access to the lake beyond park hours and adds interest to the experience.
A 35-foot sunken school bus awaits divers at Cabinsite Point in Arizona’s Lake Mohave.
1. Grand Canyon National Park
Visit the easily accessible south rim of the Grand Canyon either from Mather Point at the visitor center or the Bright Angel Trail at Grand Canyon Village. Avoid crowds by visiting in early morning or late evening during winter. Plan an overnight stay in Flagstaff to use the shuttle system and explore more of the park.
2. Saguaro National Park
Outside Tucson, this desert landscape is home to the famous saguaro cactus. This long-living species is the largest in North America and native only to the Sonoran Desert. The cacti tower over you along hiking trails and bloom at night from early May to early June.
3. Route 66
The best-maintained and longest continuous portion of historic Route 66 runs from Ash Fork through Kingman over Sitgreaves Pass in the Black Mountains to Oatman. Grab a Route 66 passport to stamp historic stops as you explore museums, vintage motel restaurants and even the donkeys in Oatman.
Need to Know
Conditions Viz varies from 15 to 30 feet in Lake Pleasant and 40 to 50 feet in Lake Mohave, with water temperatures around 40 degrees at depth and 80 degrees at the surface during summer in both lakes.
Dive Shops Recommended by PADI