Dive Horestooth Orientation
Looking to get scuba certified at Horsetooth Reservoir this summer? Or, are you taking some continuing education classes like Night & Limited Visibility, Stress & Rescue, Search and Recovery or Deep Diving? This video is for you!
Getting to Sunrise Beach
There are several places to dive in Horsetooth, but only two dive sites are allowed by county regulations on the weekends: the swim beaches. But in reality, there's really one place where the lake's depth allows for safe training on the weekends: Sunrise Beach. Sunrise Beach is located on the EAST side of Horsetooth Reservoir, near the north end of the lake. Shore diving is fairly easy from here as you can drive fairly close to the beach. Entry and exit are easy with a gradual slope in and out.
- Before you drive up:
Call the park ranger and leave a message with your name, how many divers, what time you expect to be in, what time you expect to be out, and a contact number. (970) 498-5610.
Also, make sure you have a buoy with the Diver Down flag as required by county regulations.
- Before you park your vehicle:
Be sure you have a park's pass. You can purchase one at the entry to Sunrise Beach or at any ranger station on the lake. Cost is ~$7.
Like any local diving in Colorado, it's imperative to have all of your gear lined up before you make the walk down to the water (or a really long walk back up, with all the weights it takes to sink a 7mm wetsuit or a drysuit). Make sure you have the buoy with the Diver Down flag before you enter the water, or you will be fined $50 PER PERSON. If you are diving to get your certification, your instructors typically will have taken care of this for you.
Begin Your Dive
After a short surface swim to the location where you will dive, you'll be ready to deflate your BCD and start your descent. When you drop down below the surface, visibility is usually quite terrible, especially at the surface. Stay within arm's reach of your buddy as visibility may not permit you to know where they are - you may have to feel for them. Rest assured the viability does increase as you near the bottom or training platform. Drop into the swimming position and adjust your buoyancy as you descend. It's imperative to stop before hitting the bottom and sending up a billowing cloud of silt.
Enjoy Your Dive
Whether you are getting certified or diving for fun, go slow. Sloth-like slow. Any excess fin kicks underwater are both unnecessary and will decrease visibility for not only you and your buddy, for everyone else the remainder of the day. Silt settles, but it takes time. The slower you go, the more you'll see and the more likely you are to encounter underwater life. Watch for fish, crawdads and more.
Remember that visibility is still low near the surface, so as you make your slow ascent, keep a hand up in case you encounter a paddleboard, dog, swimmer or any other surprises at the surface. Paddleboards, canoes and kayaks are supposed to stay 100 feet of your dive buoy, but not everyone knows vessel rules. Inflate your BCD and log your dive. Don't forget to adjust for altitude! You are diving at 5,430 feet above sea level, which is an altitude dive. Round up to 6,000 on the altitude chart and plan your next dives accordingly!