Regional Diving

 

Regional dive sites are those that are normally with a five to six hour drive of the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area.  Visiting these sites typically requires an overnight visit due to the time involved in driving to these locations.  Regional sites are also called destination quarries since they are usually larger, deeper, and have many more amenities and attractions than local sites.  These make excellent dive trips due to the amount of diving that can be done over a weekend and the unique attractions each site offers.

Aquatic Dreams will usually run a trip to a regional quarry at least once a month during the dive season.  These trips are very affordable, usually in the $125.00 to $165.00 per person range, and trip price always includes two days of entry into the dive site with unlimited diving, including night diving (weather permitting), 2 nights hotel accommodations (double occupancy on the rooms so stay with a spouse, dive buddy, or make a new friend)  and a tank rental for the weekend if you need it.  Trips are planned in early spring and we are always looking for ideas on where to go next, so if you see a site you would like to go to, let us know and we will look into it.

 

Gilboa Quarry

Gilboa is one of the most well known of the regional destination quarries. Located in Ottawa, Ohio, near Findlay, it is an 14 acre quarry with depths up to 130 ft.   They boast 16 different species of fish in the quarry, including koi, paddlefish, and rainbow trout.  if you’re feeling adventurous, travel to the school bus and try to feed the trout some trout chow available at the office.  You are guaranteed to make some new friends.  Underwater attractions include a 65 foot Gruman plane, school bus, and Sikorskey helicopter among too many other underwater sites to list.  Gilboa has many benches, picnic tables, docks, and staging areas for divers to dress, prep, and enter the water.  Several underwater platforms are available for training and gear adjustment purposes,  Air fills and rental gear available on-site, along with food for lunches if you don’t bring a cooler.

  • Quarry has all levels of depth from 10 feet to 130+ feet.

  • Deep diving requires advanced certification and filing dive plan with staff

  • Visibility: varies depending on divers and time of year but generally good visibility

  • Wildlife: Bass, bluegill, catfish, carp, crappie, koi, trout, and too many more to mention.

  • All divers must sign waiver of liability before entering.  First visit each season requires completion of the long waiver.  Each subsequent visit requires only a signature to the form

  • Certification cards are required for admission.  No exceptions.

  • Gilboa website

 

Haigh Quarry

 

 

 

Haigh Quarry is in Kankakee, IL, about an hour south of Chicago.  Haigh is also known as the Caribbean of the Midwest.  The site is effectively two quarries joined together.  Looking at an aerial view, you may see a very shallow wall or ridge in the middle of the quarry.  One side of the quarry is relatively shallow, with average depths of 20-30 feet and a few 45 foot sections, perfect for training and certifications.  The far side of the quarry though is the deep side.  Average depths are in the 40-50 foot range, with a sump hole that reaches 70 feet with a deep platform for training.  Underwater sites include a LARC amphibious vehicle, houseboat, numerous pieces of mining equipment, and an artifact park with plenty of “ancient artifacts” used for underwater archeology classes with local colleges.  Fish are plentiful and the water tends to be pretty clear due to the presence of zebra mussels in the quarry.

  • Average depth on shallow side: 25-30 feet.  Average depth on deep side: 40 feet.  Max Depth 70 ft.

  • Visibility: varies depending on divers and time of year but is aided by the presence of zebra mussels throughout the quarry.

  • Wildlife: Bass, bluegill, catfish, crappie, trout

  • Haigh website

  • Diver Liability Waiver

  • Note that due to higher nightly rates at area hotels, this tends to be one of the more expense weekend trips.

 

Loch Low Minn

 

 

 

 

 

 

Loch Low Minn is situated just south of Knoxville, TN near Sweetwater.  This quarry sits in the foothills of the Smokey Mountains and benefits from the naturally filtered water that runs from the streams and springs of the area.  As a result, it generally stays naturally clearer than other regional dive sites, especially toward the middle and end of the dive season.  This clarity also results in warmer temperatures and plant life growing at much greater depths than other quarries.  The site has a shallow shelf with 20 foot depth, but much of the quarry sits in 40-60 feet of water and has a deep trench that drops to 70 feet.  However, during late season barring any heavy rainfall, temperatures at depth are usually close to shallow water temperatures with very mild thermoclines.  This is an excellent training site and the country atmosphere makes for a nice weekend trip.

  • Average depth on shallow side: 20 feet.  Average depth on deep side: 40-60 feet.  Max Depth 70 ft.

  • Visibility: may vary early in season but the filtered water tends to make for very clear diving as season progresses.

  • Wildlife: Bass, bluegill, catfish, paddlefish

  • Loch Low Minn website

  • Diver Liability Waiver

 

Martha’s Quarry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Martha’s Quarry is unique in several ways.  Martha’s is located just east of Nashville, TN near Lebanon.  It is a very large quarry and is still mined off and on, meaning the quarry continues to grow.  The owner has worked with the TN DOT in the past to provide additional material for highway projects and closed the quarry to mine more rock, then re-opened the site.  Martha’s has full multi-story shaker and rock crusher buildings to swim through for wreck dive training, school buses, and an underwater hardwood forest that makes for a great dive.  Unlike other destination quarries, there is no dive shop or air fills available on site, so there is a 30 minute drive to have tanks filled at the closest shop.  Martha’s is currently open on weekends only, and arrangements must be made with the owner ahead of time to pay admission, or purchase a park pass at a local dive shop.

  • Depth varies greatly depending on the area of quarry but may range from 20 feet to a maximum of 70 feet.

  • Visibility tends to be good due to the large size of the quarry that prevents over-crowding of site.

  • Wildlife: Bass, bluegill, catfish, carp, turtles

  • Note that there are no air fills available on-site.  Closest dive shop is a 30 minute drive.

  • Owner prefers to keep site as primitive as possible to preserve the natural look of the area.  This means very limited facilities and entry to park may be muddy after rain.

  • Martha’s website information

 

Mermet Springs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everyone has a favorite dive site.  One of ours is Mermet Springs.  Mermet Springs is located across the river from Paducah, Kentucky near the town of Metropolis, home of Superman.  Mermet is an 8.5 acre quarry with depths ranging from 10 foot shallows to more than 120 feet.  Numerous items are sunk in the quarry including train cars and a school bus, but the star attraction is the 727 from the movie U.S. Marshals that sits on a slope.  The tail rests at 15 feet and the nose at 60, allowing divers a unique swim through opportunity.  Rounding out the attractions are the large population of paddlefish and the underwater emergency recall system which doubles as an underwater sound system, so no, you’re not narced, that really might be Pink Floyd you’re hearing on a night dive.  Air Fills, gear rental, and food are all available on-site.  Glen Faith, the owner, puts pride in his park and does everything he can for his visitors so come and enjoy true Southern hospitality and first class diving.

  • Average depth on shallow end of quarry ranges from 10 to 60 feet.  Average depth on deep side is 120 feet.  Deep side of the quarry has mostly sheer faces which make for excellent wall dives.

  • Visibility: tends to vary and get better later in the season, but good visibility is usually found along the back wall and at greater depths if you don’t mind a cooler dive.

  • Wildlife: Bass, bluegill, catfish, paddlefish.  Be on the lookout for Wilbur the giant blue catfish.  He enjoys hot dogs and will happily follow you around the quarry until you feed him.

  • Mermet Springs website

  • Diver Liability Waiver

Pennroyal Blue Springs

Pennyroyal Blue Springs is a 22 acre quarry located within city limits in Hopkinsville, KY.  Operated since 1994 by the Tapp family, this quarry has several levels which lend itself to training as well as recreational diving.  Shallow shore entry leads to a gradual sloping shelf with depths up to 6-10 feet.  From here, a drop places the divers in a large 20-25 foot shelf that is perfect for practicing skills and seeing underwater attractions such as buses, boats and swim-throughs.  The next wall drops the divers down to the deep section with maximum depths of 120 feet.  Another feature of this quarry is their water clarity.  The owners have worked with local universities to develop an industrial flocking agent they treat the quarry with twice a year.  This results in fantastic visibiity for quarry diving.  Excellent dive shelters and staging areas and full dive shop with air fills and hot food round out the amenities at Blue Springs.

  • Quarry has a unique shelf type design that results in multiple levels of diving.  Shallow diving ranges from 10-25 feet with maximum depths of 120 feet.

  • Visibility: Tends to be excellent throughout the year due to treatment of the quarry.

  • Wildlife: Bass, bluegill, catfish, carp, turtles.

  • Pennyroyal Blue Springs website

  • Diver Liability Waiver

 

White Star Quarry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

White Star Quarry is found in Sandusky, Ohio and is part of the White Star County Park.  This is a 15 acre quarry with average depths of 40 feet but has two sump holes that drop to 60 and 80 feet.  Because this is part of a public park, there are no fees for non-divers to watch and pets are allowed.  This site is currently going through an overhaul by the dive group helping with the site and additional amenities are being developed such as multiple self-guided underwater “trails”, new marker buoys and attractions, and upgraded facilities and concessions.  Because of its relative proximity to Findlay and Ottawa, Ohio, trips are often planned as part of a long weekend that includes visiting Gilboa in addition to this site.

  • Average depth at quarry runs 40-50 feet.  Maximum depth is 80 feet at bottom of the rock crusher pit.

  • Visibility: Very good to excellent due to depth and water quality

  • Wildlife: Bass, bluegill, multiple species of trout, shiner, pumpkinseed, carp, sunfish, gar, perch, catfish, darter, turtles, zebra mussels

  • White Star website

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