Scuba Diving

OKLAHOMA

Explore nature underwater and topside in this landlocked prairie state

- TEXT AND PHOTOS BY JENNIFER IDOL

Oklahoma is defined by the same type of prairie landscape as northern Texas, and neighborin­g dive communitie­s in both states trade weekend experience­s in each state’s reservoirs and lakes. Distances here are measured in time instead of miles because destinatio­ns lie within a two- to three-hour drive of one another. Since these dive sites are remote, it’s best to bring all the gear you’ll need for your dives.

As a Texan, I begin my Oklahoma journeys by diving in Lake Murray, a site often used for dive training by Dallas-based instructor­s. Divers from Kansas and Arkansas looking to stay closer to home often frequent a handful of popular dive sites on the eastern side of Oklahoma.

Boats, platforms, and motorcycle­s at Lake Murray’s Marietta Landing have been sunk throughout the years to provide attraction­s for divers. However, I find the variety of fish compelling, especially on shallow dives, and have seen a number of fish that include freshwater drum, walleye and logperch. Summers can be sweltering. I prefer diving the region in spring and fall.

Be careful of zebra mussels in Oklahoma lakes, and always wear booties. I created murals for the modern Lake Murray Nature Center, one of which promotes cleaning gear and washing out bilges, key to preventing the spread of the invasive species. They have since migrated south into Texas. A freshwater vinegar soak will clean zebra mussel traces from gear.

I first discovered Broken Bow Lake during my 50-state journey and was impressed by the unusual rock formations revealed by the Broken Bow Uplift. Yellow-orange sedimentar­y rock and limestone roll out from the shoreline and continue underwater. When heading straight out from coves, the rocks separate into sheer cliffs. If you don’t feel like camping in the state parks, luxury rental cabins surround Broken Bow Lake and make an appealing family getaway.

Tenkiller Ferry Lake (Lake Tenkiller) lies in northern Oklahoma and is worth a full day unto itself. In fact, any one of these lakes could be explored for an entire weekend. Perhaps my favorite reason for diving Lake Tenkiller is the renowned Amish Country Store & Restaurant, where I routinely stop for strawberry rhubarb pie and other homemade specialtie­s.

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