Diving Lake Mead At Kingman Wash & Willow Beach

  • Updated: January 12, 2019
  • Post By: Matthew Hengst

January 12th, 2019

This weekend was supposed to be a triumphant (-ish) return to diving in Southern California after the New Years trips. The plan was to join Sea Stallion on the Cee Ray dive boat to Catalina Saturday and then do shore dives around town on Sunday. And then conditions went to crap.

The Cee Ray was canceled due to swell and surf conditions ruled out anything on the shore. Going out to Catalina and diving Casino Point also looked like it wasn't an option.

And so we started to look further afield. Kristen had run into really bad weather during her Thailand trip and only been able to do a single dive so not wanting that trend to continue I said I'd drive wherever we needed to if we could find diving options.

And that's how we ended up talking to Bruce Hall at Sin City Scuba...

We got ahold of Bruce Friday and after explaining our situation he was nice enough to offer to come in and rent us tanks despite the fact the shop wasn't open on the weekend. He said just show up Saturday morning and he'd take care of us and so we were off!

We drove part of the way to Vegas Friday night and then woke up early in order to be sitting outside Sin City Scuba at 8 am.

Bruce let us in and walked us through some dive options at Kingman Wash and Willow Beach. Our options on Mead were a bit restricted by the fact we didn't have a boat and we had limited experience on deep dives but these sounded at least a bit interesting.

Kingman Wash is a local training site accessed via a rather nice dirt road off the 93 a short distance south of Hoover Dam. The Subaru Forester made it in easily and we probably could have made it with low clearance with a bit of care.

And we even saw a few donkeys along the way.

We pulled up to the beach and parked beside two other groups that were diving. Several people had on dry suits which sounded rather nice considering how chilly it was.

In addition there was a larger group with a camper set up a short distance from the shore and several fisherman on either side of the cove.

We went about getting geared up with only a slight amount of grumbling about the cold...

...at least until we got into the water!  My dive computer registered a brisk 60-57 degrees during the dive which was certainly a shock after the 77 degree water in Florida.

This was the first time out with my new dive camera and so I was playing with the red filter that came with it hence the color correction being all over the place.

Kristen tends to run really cold and had fortunately bought a new vest with integrated hood to wear under her 7mm wetsuit which turned out to be a really good call. Even for me who generally runs pretty warm the water felt distractingly especially on my lips around the reg.

The good news was temperature aside the visibility was better than anything Kristen had been in since doing her Open Water pool dives probably hitting around 40 ft.

Unfortunately at least in the shallows things were a bit on the plain side.

We did see a few fish and a fair amount of lures and bait hooks. A few were even attached to lines coming from the shore.

We also saw a lot of mussels encrusting on anything that wasn't sand.

We went out the south side of the bay and didn't see much beyond a few rocks and the occasional fish until we hit 60 ft.

At which point we found this cheery if slightly headless fellow. At that point we angled back in and ran into a fair number of other items.

We even found the perfect buoyancy course which Kristen did a bit better job at than me.

We spent about 40 minutes before coming back to shore to swap tanks. We ended up stripping our wetsuits down to our waists and jumping in the car to warm up with the heater while we ate.

The second trip out we went along the northern side of the cove hoping to hit the swim platform and maybe find a few other things.

And somehow we didn't manage to find almost anything! I mean we saw the same types of fish and a few rocks but this time we didn't come across any skeletons.

The one notable thing we did come across was this school of freshwater freshwater tilapia which circled us for a while.

We came back in after 40 minutes cold and a bit disappointed and ready to head somewhere new for our third and final tanks.

Next up was Willow Beach which was a launch point we'd looked at for kayaking since you can paddle upstream to the Black Canyon hot springs and avoid having to deal with the concession people.

It normally costs to access this area but with the government shutdown going on everything was wide open.

We took the road down past a marina and to some park benches and a bathroom located just before the fish hatchery. It was practically deserted though we did have one other car watching us with some amusement as we geared up.

It wasn't overly warm out and the water was a straight 57 degrees as we waded into the calm water.

When we dropped down we were in grass but that only lasted about 10 ft after which the bottom was just bare -ish sand.

We had been warned about the current that can sometimes rip through here and I led us out cautiously angling upstream just in case we had to beat a hasty retreat. Apparently the current all depends on water being released from Hoover Dam which depends on electricity demand and can't really be checked until you're there.

As it turned out we had almost no current and before too long we found ourselves on the far shore which means we'd technically started diving in Arizona and were now in Nevada.

It was also getting a bit dark so we ended up pulling out our lights and got almost no usable pictures from here on out since I didn't have the floodlight attached to the camera.

So we amused ourselves the best we could.

Still cautious over potential current we crossed back still angling upstream and ended up surfacing at the northern end of the hatchery. That meant we had an annoyingly long surface swim along the shallows though I was able to find a few crayfish along the bottom.

We had followed the bottom for the entire dive and deepest point we reached on the way out was 44 ft and most of it was above 30.

By the time we made it back to the beach the sun was down and we disassembled our gear by headlight quickly donning as much down clothing as we could.

We ran back to Sin City Scuba where Bruce checked us back in. On his advice we'd contacted Jerry Portwood at Dive Shack USA about the potential of some shore dives in Lake Mojave on Sunday since we were kind of over Kingman and Willow at this point.

So after thanking Bruce profusely for accommodating us we grabbed a quick bite to eat at a local casino / brewery / pub nearby and found a hotel so we could enjoy hot showers and a few hours of sleep.

Tomorrow, cabinsite point!

You Might Also Like