A widespread misconception is that landlocked states far from the sea, such as Kentucky, are virtually devoid of places to scuba dive. In reality, Kentucky has a handful of quarries and lakes with the underwater features that make for interesting freshwater diving. Although lake and quarry diving is usually marked by murky, cold water, a few areas in Kentucky stand out in spite of these conditions.
Falling Rock Park
Falling Rock is a privately-owned quarry turned diving area. It serves as a major training dive site for the Louisville Dive Center and the New Horizons Dive Center in Lexington. However, the quarry does not have its own dive center, so divers using the park must rent any gear from a dive center before arriving at the quarry. Visibility in the quarry is usually about 20 feet, with a surface water temperature in the lower 70s Fahrenheit during the summer. Like most rock quarries, Falling Rock is marked by a series of sharp thermoclines, so by 45 or 50 feet deep the temperature has plunged into the 50s. The lake bottom has sunken cars, trucks and boats, and the waters are populated by bass, bluegill and catfish.
Joe's Quarry/Falling Rock Park
Fendley Mill Road
A dam reservoir of the Cumberland River, Lake Cumberland is over 100 miles long and in places is as much as 200 feet deep, making it the largest lake in Kentucky. Coupled with a handful of interesting features on the lake bottom that serve as dive sites, this makes it one of Kentucky's best diving areas. The lake has temperatures reaching the lower 80s Fahrenheit on the surface, but is marked by starkly cold thermoclines starting at between 15 and 30 feet. Visibility can be measured by mere inches in the spring, but is usually around 15 to 20 feet in summer. The lake has that classic of dam reservoir diving, namely submerged towns, although these ruined towns should only be attempted by divers with extensive wreck penetration or cave exploration experience. Novice and intermediate divers should try the rocks and fallen trees around Pig Pen Point (also known as Governor's Point), which has a sunken houseboat and plenty of freshwater fish. Beaver Creek Marina on the lake has an air compressor suitable for filling scuba tanks, but there is no dive center near the lake, so any rental gear must be rented elsewhere and brought to the lake.
Lake Cumberland State Resort Park
5465 State Park Road
Jamestown, KY 42629
Pennyroyal Scuba Center
Pennyroyal is the one diving area in Kentucky that has its own dive center, so divers can rent gear from an on-site facility. The quarry is up to 120 feet deep in places, with a visibility in the 10- to 15-foot range. The surface can reach temperatures in the mid-80s Fahrenheit in summer, but temperatures at depth are in the upper 50s or lower. Sunken features on the quarry bottom include a 1941 Dodge firetruck and an old helicopter, and the lake hosts a large fish population due partially to their policy banning both rod-and-reel fishing and spearfishing at the quarry.
Pennyroyal Scuba Center
602 Christian Quarry Road
Hopkinsville, KY 42240
- quarry image by Alexandra Thompson from Fotolia.com