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Dive In!: Lake Amistad National Recreation Area

Written by Melissa Gaskill.

Underwater cliffs and monster bass (up to 13 pounds) attract divers to this sizable reservoir straddling the U.S.-Mexico border near Del Rio. Some 540 miles of shoreline on the Texas side makes the lake’s underwater features easy to reach.

Amistad NRA staffer Angela McClendon points fellow divers to Scuba Cove in the park’s Diablo East area. Marked with buoys and sporting a paved ramp for easy entry into the water, the cove contains two sunken boats and a treasure chest to explore, and McClendon promises we’ll see turtles, sunfish, bass, and catfish. “Look for baby bass hiding in rock crevices,” she says, “and listen to the catfish croaking underwater as it gets late.”

'You follow a rock cliff down to about 100 feet and see fish in the crevices, and when you look up, the rock looks like a castle.'

A dive called Castle Canyon is McClendon’s favorite. “You follow a rock cliff down to about 100 feet and see fish in the crevices, and when you look up, the rock looks like a castle,” she says.

Mark Bewley of Amistad Aqua Adventures knows of several other cliff dives, some up to 130 feet deep. “Chuy’s Island has some swim-throughs, all recreation--
al. The old Highway 90 bridge is a sub-merged picnic area with stone picnic tables, shade covers, fire and barbecue pits, and even stairs that are still intact. I take people to a submerged ranch house at about 45 feet. There’s also a sinkhole that we dive. I won’t finish this lake in my lifetime. It’s an incredible dive site.”

Sign up for Bewley’s two-tank dives on Saturdays, or rent his 29-foot boat for a two-tank daytime dive trip, or for a nighttime dive. He also takes divers on overnight camping trips that involve a dive the next morning and on dives in the Pecos 
or Devils rivers, which feed into Amistad.

Visibility in Lake Amistad runs up to 30 feet, with temperatures in the mid-50s in winter and mid-80s in summer. Early summer offers the best diving, as the water warms up but visibility remains good.

Amistad Aqua Adventures, 210/508-5038; Amistad National Recreation Area, 830/775-7491.

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