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“Bonne Terre Mine Treasure Hunt 2013” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Bonne Terre Mine Tours - West End Diving

Bonne Terre Mine Tours - West End Diving
Certificate of Excellence
Independence, Missouri
2 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Bonne Terre Mine Treasure Hunt 2013”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 5, 2013

I admit to being nervous about diving in Bonne Terre Mine's 2013 Treasure Hunt. Not so much about diving in the event itself, but more about diving in the mine. This was my first trip to Bonne Terre and I didn't know what to expect.

What was I afraid of?

Well, let's see – I'd be diving in an underground mine that was flooded when the mining operation ceased. This place is HUGE. It's a one billion gallon lake with 17 miles of shoreline. It seemed like an intimidating space. I worried about getting lost and swimming into a tunnel, never to be seen again. I worried that I would not find any chips. I worried that I worried too much.

My fears were unfounded.

The mine is very well lit. Industrial lighting running above the water is more than adequate illumination in the perfectly clear spring water that fills the mine. Bonne Terre's website boasts 100ft visibility year round. This is not idle bragging, it is the truth. By far, this is the best visibility for diving in Missouri (and probably the Midwest). Be aware – the water is cold at approximately 57 degrees. I'd recommend a dry suit for tour dives, but I found it to be a hindrance when trying to descend quickly for the hunt. You may want to consider layering a Farmer John wetsuit as an alternative.

Yes, the mine is massive. The hunt was setup so that groups of divers descended into quadrants designated for the event. We were watched by kayak-riding supporters on the surface and guided underwater by Bonne Terre instructors. The search sites were CLEARLY marked. It was nearly impossible to get lost. Once I saw the scope of the operation, my fears of being lost in a mine shaft quickly disappeared.

I did find many chips. While my total winnings for the day fell short compared to those of more experienced treasure hunters, I was pleased with my first year plunder. The auction Saturday evening was very active – divers offered their winnings to acquire trips, gear and gift certificates. A friend of mine won a trip (his third in three years) and my dive buddy won a CO analyzer. Those of us who had smaller winnings were still rewarded with raffle prizes, a BBQ dinner and great company.

By the time my group our ready to drive back to Kansas City on Sunday, we had found new dive friends, discovered a new location for year-round diving and decided that we were definitely coming back in 2014. No worries there.

Visited June 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank DOlexa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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  • English first
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English first
Springfield, Missouri, United States
2 reviews
“Bonne Terre Mine Treasure Hunt”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 2, 2013

Bonne Terre 2013 Treasure Hunt was the best yet! Four out of the last five years I have participated in the Bonne Terre Mine Treasure Hunt. If you have never dived the mine it needs to be on your "Bucket List". Prizes were great plus what you get for participating is worth the cost of the event. This year, like in years past, I enjoyed siting around with other divers telling our experiences and storys. The Treasure Hunt is not only for the diving but talking to vendors about what is new in the diving industry. The mine is a one of a kind experience! You walk down underground to a place like no other in the world. Water is 100 ft. plus visablity and the mine is incredible. You can see and imagine the men that worked in the mine and their equipment is still in the mine.

I would personally like to thank Doug and Catherine Goergens and their staff for another great Treasure Hunt! I would also encourage anyone who has not been to the mine do get to Bonne Terre, you wont be disappointed. 2014 Treasure Hunt I WILL BE THERE!!

Visited June 2013
Helpful?
Thank Dave D
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, June 3, 2013
Dave, thank you for the great review. 80% of this years Treasure Dive participants where repeat customers!
You and your dive crew are very accomplished upper level divers. Our staff always look forward to diving with you.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Level Contributor
13 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Coolest Dive ever”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 29, 2013

My wife and I just dove this over the Memorial weekend. it's our first cold water experience. 3 dives on Saturday, 2 dives on Sunday. We had a blast. The staff were very accomodating, the grounds outside are clean and there's a great area to sit with your fellow divers to rehash what you just went through. The water was NOT 58 or 59 degrees, it was 57. We froze our butts off but kept coming back for more. All the wetsuit divers froze. About 35 minutes was my max with a 7m BARE shorty and a 3m full wetsuit with two hoods, gloves and wool socks in my booties.
There's not a good assortment of weights at the dive platform, so i suggest you bring your own. I'm 200lbs, 6'1", 49 years and not as fit i used to be, but you don't need as much weight as you think you do. I started out with 26lbs and had to fully inflate to keep my eyeballs above water. 20lbs was still too much but i didn't bring a good assortment of smaller weights so just dealt with it.
The groups you dive with are rather large, we had 14. this made it really slow going as the guides constantly check on you to keep the divers together, check your air and make sure you're ok. It's extremely safe.
We had no problem humping our gear down on the first dive and humping it back out after the last dive. The 68 steps, yes i counted them too, wasn't a problem and looking around at the lighted areas on the way in and out was pretty cool. We had rolling gear baggage. That worked out real well. Wear your wetsuits in and out of the cave and if it's nice outside you can strip and hang it out to dry a little and get warm. it's about 2hrs between dives so you've got time to warm up.
Although they don't want you to bring flashlights, it's ok if you do, they just don't want you using them and distracting the guides.
At no time were we rushed to suit up and get in the water. You just need to be mindful that if you're the last one in, everyone else is bobbing in 57 degree water waiting on you. So if you have gear problems, you need to remember that part of your training where you and your buddy check each other before you get in the water.
you do have to remove your tank after each dive and get a fresh one for the next dive. The tanks are shorter and fatter than regular tanks, so it pays to remember how to set up your own gear. Removing your integrated weights when changing out the tanks makes the job WAY easier, especially when your fingers and toes are numb and you're shaking so violently you can't hold still.
Bring a waterproof camera for the trip down and shooting pics of the dock. don't bother trying to use it under water though, it's just way to dark to get any good pics and some of the dives can be a little tight. Bouyancy was difficult in the heavy suits and fresh water. the camera just added to the distraction.
A pee bottle will come in handy for us guys over 40. You can't go topside without the whole group. so unless you jump back in the frigid water, you've got to hold it a long way.
We stayed in the Caboose. It was ok. There's no fridge or microwave so bring a big cooler with ice. Meandminewtx review was spot on. This is NOT a 5 Star resort or a Live Aboard.
We ate at Marios and got the pizza and "World Famous" rolled up pizza thing. both were outstanding. their alcohol selection was very limited; a darn good margherita, Corona or domestic beer, that's all....and Tequila..

Visited May 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank Chuck P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Woodland, California
Level Contributor
11 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
“Bonne Terre Mines is a MUST DO for Divers of all levels!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 29, 2013

What in incredible experience we had at the Bonne Terre Mines. This dive destination has been high on my bucket list for many years and it definitely was beyond my expectations. The diving was unique and amazing and the service was outstanding.

My husband and I were driving cross country and we wanted to do this dive. We asked to go on Memorial Day and found out that they had planned to be closed for the day. When I explained to the owner, Doug, that this was our only window, he accommodated us and booked us for three dives..and didn't charge us even a penny extra.

The dive master, Doug, was excellent and there were two safety divers as well. That was also incredible service because there were only 3 paying divers! I had an equipment issue that could have cost me the day but Doug was attentive and got me repaired and up and running.

As for the diving. WOW, WOW, WOW. I have never been in an environment like this before and it was magical. The lighting is low and the water is perfectly clear and still. I had the sensation of floating in space as we navigated the dives. There were moments when it seemed that there was no bottom, even though we had been briefed about how deep the mine is. There was some excitement in the overhead environments but it was not scary...mainly because we had been well briefed and knew we were in good hands with the divemaster and safety divers.

We did three trails and saw a lot of the relics left behind from the mining including a huge structure that was on trail number 4.

I just loved this experience and give it many many thumbs up. Also...we did the walking / boat tour the day before we dove and that was great as well. Got a nice history lesson and got to see the mine from above the water. I recommend doing that as well.

All in all, an excellent experience that is well worth the short drive from St. Louis and well worth the money.

KUDOS to Doug and the Bonne Terre Mine team for a unique and amazing experience and for giving such great service.

Thanks....Connie

Visited May 2013
Helpful?
Thank cwhite9901
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, June 3, 2013
It was a great pleasure to have a couple divers from Monterey.
You are fantastic divers who made our jobs easy and very enjoyable.
Thank you so much for your insights on Deep Earth Diving!
We look forward to having you continue on the next set of dive trails.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Novi, Michigan
Level Contributor
39 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
“If you're a diver - you must dive here!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 28, 2013

Did this over a holiday weekend with a dive group and its amazing! If you're a diver and never do this dive, you're really missing out. It's hard to explain... It's like cave meets the grand canyon under 59 degree water with almost 100 ft vis. Now for a few pointers:
You can dive this wet no problem. A 5 mm + a step-in 5 mm hooded vest are perfect. Of course, you can dry suit it. I would say out of 10 divers, 3 had dry suits. The straight 5 mm folks were cold. Be sure to have gloves and a hood.
Bring your own hangers to dry out your suit in the locker room!
Bring a towel. Go to the bathroom when up, because no bathroom in the cave.
You leave your BC and other gear down the cave on a tarp (no body messes with it - it's not the fellow diver way).
Bring 2 forms of ID: DL and C-card. No flashlights or dive knifes (after the first dive you can have the very small lights, but you don’t really need it, the staff uses their light when you need it)
Rent your weights down there, otherwise you'll have to walk down and then up the SEVENTY (70) steps plus the short trail (which is a sight to see in itself).
The staff here are great - my favorite was Jeff. They are all about safety! The tour guide has a flash light, tells you what he will show you during the briefing then uses the light to show you so pay attention to the briefing. They have 1-2 "safeties" diving with you.
Best place to stay is the “Train Depot” run by the mine. The entire experience is a no frills time, so don't compare it to your 5 star Bermuda dive or you will be disappointed.
Very few places to eat. Mario's is Italian and is OK, but not great (under new MGT as of 2013 so it's better than it was). We found a New Mexican Restaurant that is AWESOME so eat here as much as you can! I can't remember the name of it, the Bonne Terre staff knows and I'm a Mexican food snob being from TX. Hardies and Subway are available for lunch (NOT a Fan of Hardies!). Anyways, go here and there’s no way you will be disappointed. Be sure to tip the staff a solid $5 per day - they deserve it!

Visited May 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank meandminewtx
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, June 3, 2013
Thank you for taking time to write such a thorough and enthusiastic review!!
You are truly Deep Earth Divers!
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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