Lake Ouachita



Submitted By:
Don J.

Submitter Comments:
Lake Ouachita is a 50 year old government power pool not available for commercial or residential development and is therefore (according to the EPA) the 2nd cleanest lake in the US! It is ~ 11 miles wide by ~33 miles long. There are four major (?) resorts that skirt Lake Ouachita, and no further are planned. All are reasonable and clean, not fancy. Dive flags are respected. Literally hundreds of dive sites (pick your own!) are available. Ark. Is one of the few states where spear fishing is legal! Get a fishing license! Viz ranges from "can't see your hand in front of your fact to 20' in summer. Winter the vis has been known to open up below the thermocline to 50-60'. Three dive shops are available. Most are closed in the winter, so seek tank refills/equipment in Hot Springs. Great lake to dive lot of fauna but too much flora! Trying to get the moss under control.

 From Hot Springs, AR, there are several accesses to Lake Ouachita (pronounced Wash-it-aw). Take US Hwy 270 west for all accesses including Spillway Resort (at the extreme East end of the lake), Brady Mountain Lodge & Marina, Crystal Springs Resort & Marina and Mountain Harbor Resort & Marina (at the extreme west end of the lake). From Little Rock, AR, take I-30 to US70 to Hot Springs then to US270. From I-30 south, take the first Hot Springs exit and go 35 miles on AR Hwy 7 to Hot Springs then to US 270. Lake Ouachita is accessible from Oklahoma by taking US Hwy 270 to the East.


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Diver Reviews:    Click here to write a Site Review, and share any new information about this site!

10/07/2017 Milo1 (Avg: 3.00 Review) - Blakely Mountain Dam of Lake Ouachita....Go over dam to end of the road....only a few parking spaces but stairs lead you down to the water....very small beach that you can put your stuff down. Water depth goes from 5 ft to 25 ft VERY quickly. Left from stairs has rocky edge....I freedived the area on October 2nd 2017. Water was still a nice 81 degrees. Looked for underwater memorial which can be reached from swimming from shore safely...did not see it, but due to unfamiliarity with area, just kind of looked around...water clarity is UNBELIEVABLE. When others see this post, please help the free divers by somehow marking the area with yellow tape in line with where the memorial and other submerged items are...Rumor has it that boats, a 4 wheeler, and a golf cart are all submerged if you go left of the staircase...Just remember when you freedive, you have a limited amount of downtime, so having a better idea where things are underwater being marked on the rocks would sure be nice. This is a perfect site. Did not see any snakes, but around the rocks, I would definitely be careful.

04/20/2012 Wendy (Avg: 3.67 Review) - Been diving LO for three years, fantastic fresh water. Dam site best for shore diving. If you have a boat...many many sites. Crawdad Island, Zebra Rock and point 49 are great sites. Vis is best in winter/spring when boat traffic is down. Visit Great dive map of several lakes in AR.

02/15/2008 Gary (Avg: 1.61 Review) - I dived in the lake when I rented a House Boat. BTW, nice vacation. Easy diving, but when you get to 25 ft depth you hit the cold water. Takes your breath away. During the summer you can dive without a wet suit. Very little fish and lots of rocks. OK visibility closer to the Dam, but it's bad after a rain storm. If you HAVE to dive fresh water, this is pretty good. Remember to use less weight than you do in salt water. Have FUN!

09/03/2006 Chris Brown (Avg: 4.01 Review) - Great dive!

01/29/2006 Brian Xavier (Avg: 3.25 Review) - I've dove Lake Ouachita for a few summers straight now. I dove the dam in '04 and went down to about 80 feet. Then I came back up and followed the rope going off of the rocks on the dam and found a mailbox (with a fish in it), a golf cart with clubs, and some sunken boats. The first time I dove it the viz down deeper was probably about 30 plus feet. It looks real deep and dark below the sunken vehicles. Not much fish life here, but a great freshwater dive. The steps leading down to the dam are nice. Lost a nice mask (clear) and snorkel here. I also like diving across from Mountain Harbor, I believe around island 18. Some nice coves and points there, and with a bass boat you can look for good viz. When I hit 22-25 feet, the water does get cold. Take a 7 mil suit if you plan to dive deep, otherwise a 3 mil would do the job. It gets dark real fast here, so I mostly dove the islands to 25 feet max. Lots of fish life around these islands. I do agree that you need a boat to dive Ouachita. I'd be interested in other spots to dive in this lake.

08/15/2005 Don from Fairview (Avg: 2.86 Review) - The dam site is interesting with the boats, four wheeler, mail box, etc. Vis was twenty feet, but at forty feet deep vis got better. Be prepared for cold water below 25 ft. If you've got a boat, check out the "wall" and the "checker board". Site #49 was recommended, but we did not find good diving there (poor vis). Watch out for trees at 30-50 ft. Find a good map at one of the marinas -- they have gps coordinates plus lake contours. Good lake to dive in, but 2 full days of diving and did not see near enough of it. We will definitely return next summer.

02/12/2004 Don J. (Avg: 3.35 Review) - I've dived Lake Ouachita since 1960. The lake has changed a lot related to tourism, but through it all, is still one of the best lake dives I've ever done! A wide selection of fish abound and spear fishing, in season with license, is legal! Very few shore dive sites! (Rangers can't differentiate between "scuba DIVING" and "DIVING" head first off rocks! Honestly, this happened to me and others!) Boat diving around the islands (dozens!) is great. Average viz ~10'-15' (less in Summer, more in Winter). Have fun...and don't trash the lake, please!

12/18/2003 Diver Jeff (Avg: 2.12 Review) - About the only shore site on Ouacita is at the dam. However, there is much to see. Once at the bottom of the steps, if you go right, there are underwater stair steps from 30 to 120 feet. At about 60 feet you will begin seeing large trees still standing. If you go left along the rocks of the dam your going to see many types of fish. Perch, catfish, bass, crappie, walleye and occasionally alligator gar. The rocks go down to around 40 feet then turns back to mud bottom. A group from Louisiana recently have sunk many boats, a 4 wheeler and other stuff to see. These are connected with cable so you can pull yourself along to see everything. Diving the dam offers good diving conditions for the novice and experienced. Night diving offers many larger catfish coming up for a quick meal of perch or crawfish. The water temperature in the fall (Sept-Oct) is 75 degrees. Vis is usually very good for a fresh water lake. You can rent a boat at the Lake Ouachita State Park. If you do, e-mail me for some unbelievable dive sites only a few minutes away from the park by boat. I have dove this lake for 12 years. It's the best lake in Arkansas by far. Safety & blue skies…

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Diver Averages for  Lake Ouachita  (1=worst, 5=best)

Average Site Condition

Ease of Shore Entry:  3.00
Bottom Conditions:  3.38
Reef Conditions:  2.38
Animal Life:  3.50
Plant Life:  2.50
Facilities:  2.75
Solitude 2.88
Roads:  3.63
*Site Average:  2.98

Average Enjoyment Level

Snorkel:  2.88
Beginner Scuba:  4.00
Intermediate Scuba:  4.00
Advanced Scuba:  4.00
Night diving Scuba:  3.63

Number of reviews for this site: 8


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