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Review of Bonne Terre Mine Tours - West End Diving

Bonne Terre Mine Tours - West End Diving
185 Park Ave, Bonne Terre, MO 63628
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Certificate of Excellence 2014
Activities: Scuba diving
Attraction details
Rancho Palos Verdes, California
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
Reviews in 18 cities Reviews in 18 cities
89 helpful votes 89 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 26, 2013

Exceeded all Expectations! Excellent Bonne Terre Dive Weekend =)

A friend and I recently spent a weekend diving the Bonne Terre Mine and we absolutely loved it! We’re still talking about how much we enjoyed this unique and interesting dive setting. Bonne Terre is a huge mine which flooded after being abandoned after over 100 years in operation. It’s cave-like with lots of old mining equipment still in place. The mine slowly filled with water after the pumps were turned off when mining ended. It boasts crystal-clear fresh water with 100+ foot visibility. Lighting is artificial from above, but interesting. It’s augmented by the guides’ powerful lights underwater. Special kudos to Josh - his sweeping dual light presentations would make Hollywood proud! (And they made me laugh underwater =). Huge 200 feet high pillars, vistas, archways, caverns, rooms, tunnels, and mining structures make for stunning visual effects. It’s really unusual and claims over 17 miles of shoreline throughout the mine. No aquatic life (okay, one very lonely, odd looking fish named “Bonnie”) and very little silt. Bonne Terre is a well-run dive operation with a focus on safety. The bookings were friendly and easy with Tom and Doug providing accurate information from the West End Dive Center (I had lots of questions as I was schlepping my gear in from California). The mine’s staff was simply incredible and added a lot of depth to our weekend. We had great teams on each day. Saturday began with a thorough dive briefing in the dive office followed by an in-water skill check (buoyancy check, mask removal/replacement, buddy breathing) before the first dive. “Buzz” and John guided eight divers around on the three dives (Buzz lead the group with John tagging behind as the safety diver; a third staff member tendered the group following above in a kayak). On Sunday, the Terrific Trio of Josh, Sherri and Katie led our smaller group of three divers. Each guide shared an obvious passion for the mine, its history, the dive routes, route discoveries, etc. between dives. Their descriptions added a lot of interest to each dive and it was a pleasure experiencing that excitement during our own dives. All dive trails are guided; there are no self-exploration dives, but the variety and unusual nature of the site keeps it interesting. Skill level is intermediate to advanced when considering depth (dives at 60-70’ in depths of up to 130’), overhead environments (tunnel routes, caverns and swim throughs), night dive conditions (the mine is naturally dark, 65 steps underground, cyalume sticks provided for the dives), super-cold water year round, and the need for finely tuned buoyancy skills (“keyhole” swim throughs, several narrow tunnels requiring strategic placement). There’s no surge, current or thermocline, and it’s a great place to work on buoyancy. This is cold-water (57 degrees) diving, so plan to layer up or consider a dry suit. I wore 7mm wetsuit, a Lavacore vest, a thick dive skin, full hood/booties/gloves and needed every bit of that protection. One diver in our Saturday group opted for a shortie suit without hood or gloves and was miserable, aborting both of his dives midway. We took the first 6 trails in the series, diving the max 3 dives each day. There are about 38 routes in total with increasing levels of depth and challenge. The trails are offered in order, so few divers experience the higher numbers unless they are repeat visitors. High season is Winter, summer is the slow season. I’d recommend avoiding the crowds to get the best visibility and variety/guide access on tours. Overall a great experience and a great weekend with a
wonderful dive operation. We can’t wait to dive the Bonne Terre Mines again!

Most memorable features:
-“The Structure” – a giant frame for an elevator shaft, reminiscent of an oil rig structure. Great lighting effects from afar and when you’re inside of it.
-“The Stairways” – used by workers in the mine, well preserved wooden structures.
-“Redwood Forest” – a vast area with huge pillars looming above in the darkness – spiritual!
-“Champagne Bubbles” - effect from our bubbles trapped in the cavern below filtering through holes in the rock on the level above (dizzying beauty!)
-“Smoke” effect when rusting iron equipment has a cloud of red around it; my brainy dive buddy dubbed it a “ferrocline”
-“The Jackhammer”-still protruding, abandoned in a from a rock.
-“The Chapel” – a smaller chamber (offered on Sunday diving only =) dotted with white crosses that marked dynamite spots
-“Catfish Kettle” – a local fish restaurant was affordable, friendly and delicious.

Visited June 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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120 reviews from our community

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  • English first
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English first
Winston Salem, North Carolina
Senior Contributor
36 reviews 36 reviews
16 attraction reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
20 helpful votes 20 helpful votes
“Finally Made It To BTM....”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 12, 2013

I first found out about BTM from a diving magazine. I researched it and added it to my list of "GOTTA DOs". As luck would have it our youngest daughter moved to St. Louis last summer. BING!!!! I looked at the web site for diving and it was kind of confusing about what is required to dive there. I thought you had to have cavern certification and that you could take the course there. We drove out for my daughters graduation and a trip out to the mine. I didn't know there was a walking and boat tour until my last view of the web page. Glad I found it. We went over for a visit. First thing I found out is my Open Water Certification is all I need to dive. GREAT!! We did the tour and really enjoyed the information given to us by the guide. I will be back for the dive.

Visited June 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kansas City, Missouri
Top Contributor
61 reviews 61 reviews
13 attraction reviews
Reviews in 20 cities Reviews in 20 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
“The treasure hunt was fun!!!!!!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 10, 2013 via mobile

My wife and I were there for the treasure hunt dive for the first time and were really excited. It was very organized and the staff did a great job keeping that many divers on time and ready to dive. The vendors were very friendly and very helpful with their products. The prizes were awesome
I am really looking forward to coming back and diving the rest of the mine

Visited June 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sunshine coast
Top Contributor
137 reviews 137 reviews
8 attraction reviews
Reviews in 43 cities Reviews in 43 cities
166 helpful votes 166 helpful votes
“a lot of effort and unprofessional business”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed June 9, 2013

We are relativelWe are relatively experienced divers and have been used to the luxury of staff assisting you. These guys gave you no help and with a 6 mm wetsuit plus all the gear and then descending into the mine it was a workout before we got into the freezing water.
Diving in a mine site was novel but after 10 minutes we had seen enough. We actually cancelled our second dive knowing we wouldn’t get a refund.
The staff insisted on taking out ID and dicve cert which they forgot to hand back. This ruined the remainder of our holiday as we could not hire a car.
Totally unprofessional business.

Visited June 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
BTM_Staff, Owner at Bonne Terre Mine Tours - West End Diving, responded to this review, August 13, 2013
Dear justcruizen,
It’s unfortunate that your experience diving at the mine was not acceptable to you. It is not our policy to carry your equipment in and out of the mine. If you asked for help maybe our dive staff would have assisted you. We ask for your driver’s license or photo ID with address because of liability requirements. We provide those ID’s back when your dives are completed or when requested. It’s a shame you take no responsibility in your abilities in getting to and from the dive-site, aborting the dive early or remembering to ask for your driver’s license and c-card when leaving early.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Little Rock, Arkansas
1 review
“Awesome dive adventure”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 9, 2013

Just an awesome place to dive. Crystal clear water, excellent guided tours of the mine. Water temp is constant year round about 59F. The facilities are really good Great lighting for being underground. only down side was the size of the groups diving and being rushed thru the dive also having to purchase the dives in blocks.

Visited July 2012
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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