Amistad National Recreation Area has a variety of water depths and diving environments, which offer novice and advanced divers some of the finest freshwater-diving opportunities in Texas.
General Diving Conditions
Amistad is known for its clear waters. Visibility varies with the time of year. During the cool winter months (November to April), it can reach a maximum of 40-50 feet. From May to October, warmer water temperatures stimulate algae growth and reduce visibility to 10 feet or less. Surface temperatures range from low-50s in the winter to mid-80s in the summer. Water temperatures below the thermocline may be 10-15 degrees cooler than surface temperatures but are never colder than 50°F. Thermoclines produce noticeable changes in water temperatures. During the winter this occurs at 30-40 feet, while during the summer months, major thermoclines occur at 70-80 feet and at the 100-foot depths.
- You are required to display the standard, red and white diving flag during all dives; except in SCUBA Cove, where buoys are placed to keep out boats.
- Lost and found items must be turned in at the Amistad Visitor Center or to an NPS park ranger.
- All archaeological artifacts, historical items, and natural features are protected by federal law and must be left undisturbed.
- Report any accident or problem immediately to park rangers. Please refer to the Emergency section below for contact information.
- Boaters must stay clear of a dive area marked with "Boats Keep Out" buoys and be at least 100 feet from the red and white diving flags.
The following areas are closed to diving:
- Designated boat mooring, docking, and harbor areas.
- The restricted zone (1000 feet) behind Amistad Dam.
- The Rio Grande downstream of Amistad Dam.
- Protected swim areas.
- Near the two submerged dams in the Devil's River.
- Plan your dive and dive your plan!
- Use the "buddy" system; never dive alone.
- Always carry a good quality dive knife. Submerged brush and trees often have fishing line in them; entanglement can be very serious.
- Do not dive beyond the capability of the least-experienced diver in your group.
- Do not dive without proper training and certification.
- Check the latest weather forecasts.
- Underwater caves and other karst features exist in the limestone formations in Lake Amistad. Do not be tempted to enter these unless you have received training and certification as a cave diver. Even at short distances, a diver can stir up silt creating zero-visibility conditions instantly.
- Fishing is a popular activity on the lake. The resulting collection of old and new trotlines and monofilament line poses potetial entanglement hazards for divers.
- Most of the popular dive sites are also popular boating sites. Be sure to stay close to the diving flag, towing it along if traveling even short distances away.
Popular Dive Sites
- Viewpoint Cliffs and SCUBA Cove at Diablo East. The dive cove is buoyed to keep out boats. The maximum depth exceeds 100 feet at the outer edge of the cove. Dive flags are not required in the cove.
- Castle Canyon. Has a few protected coves to beach a boat and dive. The north side of the islands near the entrance to Castle Canyon (Buoy CC-B) provides vertical walls and protection from the prevailing southeast winds.
- Highway 90 Bridge. This is generally a good dive area all year. Visibility is usually better at the end of the bridge, which is in the lee of the wind. For example, during northwest winds, dive the northwest end of the bridge.
- Brite Ranch House. Located northeast of Wards Point in Evans Creek.
Spearfishing is legal for the taking of non-game fish only. Non-game fish includes buffalo, carp, gar, goldfish, suckers, shad, and tilapia. The taking of any game fish--including bass, striped bass and their hybrids, white bass, any catfish, and walleye--by spearing is strictly prohibited. State fishing regulations are in effect on the United States side of the reservoir. A valid Texas fishing license is required. A Mexican fishing license is required for fishing on the Mexican portion of Lake Amistad. Check Mexican regulations before diving or spearfishing in Mexico.
Use the following checklist at the first suspected sign of a diving injury.
- Dial 911 or send someone for help. Calling 911 will notify the appropriate emergency personnel. Begin CPR immediately, if necessary.
- Automated External Difibrillators (AEDs) are kept at the Visitor Center and Diablo East Ranger Station.
- Request that a park ranger bring one to the scene if CPR has been initiated.
- The Divers Alert Network (D.A.N.) can be reached at (919) 684-9111. They can direct you to the nearest available recompression chamber, if needed.
- Administer 100% oxygen, if available.
- Wait for the ambulance and paramedics to respond to the scene. They will assess the situation and transport the injured diver, if necessary.
All guides must be registered with the National Park Service in order to operate a business within Amistad National Recreation Area. There are currently no permitted SCUBA guides at Lake Amistad. Dive Training at Amistad National Recreation AreaSCUBA Instructors are required to obtain a Commercial Use Authorization Permit with the National Park Service in order to legally conduct any official SCUBA training at Lake Amistad. This includes open water certification dives associated with basic open water certification courses, as well as any other certification courses. For additional information call the National Park Service at (830) 775-7492.
SCUBA Divers and Snorkelers Decontamination Guidance
Help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species every time you exit a water body.How to decontaminate your gear:
- Inspect and clean off any visible plants, animals, and mud from wetsuit, dry suit, mask, snorkel, fins, buoyancy compensator, regulator, cylinder, weight belt, boat, motor, and trailer (if using) before leaving water access.
- Soak gear used in freshwater dives in 3.5% salt solution (1/2 cup salt per gallon of water).
- Rinse inside and outside of gear with hot water.
Drain all water from all equipment--including buoyancy compensator, regulator, cylinder boot, boat, motor (if using), and any water-containing devices--before leaving water access.