Canadian Splash: Diving in Riding Mountain National Park

Scuba Diving Clear Lake in Manitoba’s Riding Mountain National Park

As a pair of scuba divers traveling across Canada’s immense geography, the province of Manitoba is certainly not a place with diving listed at the forefront of things to do. But with a curious spirit, a wicked sense of adventure and connecting with the right people, there are interesting pockets of scuba diving that can certainly be found in one of Canada’s flattest provinces.

Riding Mountain National Park

Nestled in the midwestern part of the province of Manitoba, approximately 100 kilometers north of Brandon is Riding Mountain National Park. It straddles the Manitoba Escarpment and covers almost 3000 square kilometers of land.

This island of wilderness surrounded by a sea of farmland offers windswept grasslands, silent forests and rippling lakes singing with life. On top of the park’s extremely varied ecosystems, Riding Mountain is home to a staggering diversity of living things – the most notable being the Plains Bison – an iconic animal to the Canadian prairies.

Side View Of A Bison Eating The Grass In Riding Mountain, Northern Manitoba, Travel Canada

A Pair Of Bison On The Plains Of Manitoba, In Riding Mountain National Park, Canada

The Bisons of Riding Mountain National Park: Wondering where to find bisons in Manitoba? Riding Mountain National Park is nestled in the midwestern part of the province with beautiful grassland plains allowing visitors to learn and view bison at the Lake Audry Bison enclosure.

 

Scuba Diving Clear Lake in Riding Mountain

Clear Lake at the Glen Beag picnic site is the spot for scuba diving in Riding Mountain National Park. The lake is considered a unique lake for the prairie parkland thanks to its low amounts of nutrients, or oligotrophic nature. This gives it a clear look but also make it a suitable source of clean, fresh drinking water.

Beyond Clear Lake’s physical characteristics, this body of water is a key habitat for 14 species of fish. This includes whitefish, northern pike, white suckers, walleye and slimy sculpin. Of these species, whitefish are the most abundant large-bodied fish typically found in the deeper parts of the lake. Because whitefish require well-oxygenated lake bottoms to survive, their predominance in Clear Lake speaks to the healthy ecology of this watery ecosystem.

Riding Mountain Manitoba Stickleback Fish Species, Clear Lake, Scuba Diving Canada's Prairies

Scuba Diving Site In Riding Mountain National Park, Manitoba, Canada Underwater

Where to Dive Clear Lake

GPS Coordinates: 50.67676, -99.91941
Address: Glen Beag, Wasagaming, MB R0J 0Z0
There is parking onsite at Clear Lake and a set of stairs that leads down to the water.

 

Into the the Glassy Water of Clear Lake

Following a four-hour drive from Manitoba’s capital city, we finally arrived at Riding Mountain National Park with bells on. It was early afternoon and the beautiful day presented the opportune time to hit the water in the park’s one and only dive site – Clear Lake. Parking in the small designated area, we kitted up from the back of the van and sauntered down the convenient set of stairs leading down to the water’s edge.

The Wooden Stairs Leading To Clear Lake In Riding Mountain National Park, Manitoba, Canada Scuba Diving Adventures

Finishing up our final checks, we donned our masked and sunk below the surface of Clear Lake eagerly anticipating what we would see and where we would go. The first glance into Clear Lake told me that in spite of its name and reputation visibility wouldn’t be the greatest. Almost as soon as we sunk past the 3 meters (10 foot) mark the particulate and plankton matter in the water significantly reduced our range of vision.

Navigating along the right shore bank we followed the gracefully sloping bottom comprised of stones and sludge. The deeper we swam the more the bottom turned into a silty, slimy mess. Because of this, we took care to keep ourselves well off the lakebed.

Descending around 7-9 meters (25-30 feet), we discovered that Clear Lake had a basic training platform constructed from metal poles and chain link fencing. Greeting us on the platform were a few of the lake’s clawed crayfish inhabitants. I later learned that these were Rusty crayfish (Orconectes rusticus) an aggressive invasive species originating in the Ohio River Basin in the USA.

Pushing past the training platform we descended to 17 meters (55 feet). At this depth visibility, which wasn’t the greatest to begin with, was reduced even further by the limited sunlight penetration. We decided to make this the turnaround point of our dive.

As we gradually rose towards the surface Joey and I were surprised and delighted to find a small sunken powerboat filled with inquisitive-looking bass. The boat was situated at 6 meters (20 feet) in-depth, making it just deep enough for us to enjoy some fishy company during our safety stop.

Small Mouth Bass In Clear Lake, Scuba Diving Riding Mountain National Park, Manitoba, Canada
 

Recapitulating Scuba Diving in Riding Mountain

Clear Lake is a place that has flourished over the years. The scenery provides a picturesque backdrop for walking, hiking, biking and picnicking around the area. The water provides beachgoers, campers, anglers and boaters with a perfect opportunity to enjoy its liquid bounty.

As for scuba diving, while the visibility was not astounding in Clear Lake we did see many small creatures. One thing that Joey and I both realized afterward was that even at the deepest point of our dive, the lake had no thermocline. For those unaware, this is not common for such small lakes to be so well mixed – typically there is even a small amount of stratification. I think the lack in thermocline reiterates how unique Clear Lake is for this prairie parkland.

A Small Herbivorous Snail On A Log In Clear Lake, Riding Mountain NAtional Park, Manitoba Scuba Diving,Canada

Practical Scuba Diver Information:

Do you have any other must-visit scuba diving sites in the province of Manitoba? Where are they and what kinds of things should we expect to see? When is the best time to visit these sites?

Writers Note: This post may contain affiliate links. We will make a small commission if you make a purchase through one of these links, at no extra cost to you. See full disclosure and disclaimer policy here.

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Scuba Diving Riding Mountain In Manitoba, Canadian Splash

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