Explore The Caribbean of the Rockies
Bear Lake is one of the most popular dive sites in Utah and Idaho. Famously deemed the “Caribbean of the Rockies” for its intense turquoise-blue waters, Bear Lake is a large natural lake which stretches across the borders of both states, at 20 miles long and eight miles wide.
Bear Lake makes for a great diving spot due its thriving fish life, unique natural features, water conditions, and opportunity for original open water discoveries.
Just The Stats
Bear Lake covers 112 square miles and is 208 feet deep at its maximum, with an average depth of 94 feet. Visibility can vary from 5-35 feet, but tends to average between 20-30 feet.
During the summer and early fall, surface water temperatures fluctuate between 55°F-65°F. Below the thermocline (around 35 feet), temperatures drop swiftly.
The place to dive at Bear Lake is Cisco Beach on the east shore. Famous for legendary schools of spawning Bonneville Cisco each January, Cisco Beach serves as a shore accessible freshwater dive site during the warmer months. The vibrant waters of the east side of the lake are rife with aquatic life like cutthroat and lake trout, whitefish, and sculpin, and the site is speckled with rock formations and a steep drop-off close to shore.
There is a gentle drift dive from north to south, and Cisco Beach drops off faster than other parts of the lake. The site features a rocky bottom, a cave, a sunken boat and the “Car Lot” – the site where dozens of cars were submerged in the 1930s, forming an artificial reef.
Scuba diving certification cards (“C-cards”), dive flags, and dive buddies are required when diving at Cisco Beach. Wet suits and thermal dive gear are necessary. Besides shore diving from Cisco Beach, Utah scuba divers also enjoy boat dives at The Rock Pile near the State Park Marina.
How To Get There
Bear Lake is about a two-and-a-half hour drive from Salt Lake City, Utah. Bear Lake Marina is on US-89 two miles north of Garden City. Cisco Beach is just under 10 miles north of Laketown, Utah.
Ten Simple Tips
- Plan your dives and keep a dive log.
- Don’t dive if you’re uncomfortable with the conditions, dive site, or your ability.
- Have all equipment checked prior to your dive.
- Practice buoyancy control (can be fine tuned with your breathing).
- Get into shape before you go diving.
- In warm weather put your wetsuit on just before diving to avoid overheating.
- Drink plenty of fluids and get plenty of rest before a dive.
- Use a dive flag to alert boaters that divers are in the area.
- Review diving hand signals with your buddy before you dive.
- Relax, and do not ascend or descend too rapidly.
Know Before You Go – Official Regulations
Rule R651-802. Scuba Diving.As in effect on November 1, 2019
R651-802-1. Rules And Restrictions.
(1) A scuba diver shall display a diver’s flag prior to diving activity and shall dive and surface in close proximity to the flag.
(2) No person shall place a diver’s flag on the waters of this state unless diving activity is in progress in that area.
(3) If a diver’s flag is placed after sunset or before sunrise, it shall be lighted.
(4) No person shall place a diver’s flag in any area where boating activity might be unduly restricted.
(5) No scuba diver shall dive in a congested boating or fishing area such as narrow channels, launching or docking areas, or near reservoir outlets.
(6) No person shall scuba dive in any waters of this state unless he holds a valid certificate from an accredited scuba diving school or is in the company of a certified scuba diving instructor.