Colorado (CO) Diving Laws

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Colorado (CO) Diving Laws

Is it okay to go scuba diving in Colorado?

Colorado is one of the best states for scuba diving, but it’s important to be aware of what you’re getting into before you dive in!
The state has a wide range of water conditions and weather, so there’s a massive range of difficulty levels and variations to choose from.

With that being said, before you set off on your diving excursions, let’s take a look at what you need to be aware of in terms of legalities.


Experience and certifications

Here are the types of relevant licenses and what they relate to within Colorado State Waters:

1. Colorado Open Circuit (COC) SCUBA Diver Certification (A diver certified to use non-decompression open circuit scuba gear)

2. Colorado Limited Penetration Certification (A diver certified by a follow up DAN course that meets Colorado’s requirements without sponsorship)

3. Colorado Decompression Certification (A diver certified by a follow up DAN course that meets Colorado’s requirements without sponsorship)

4. Colorado Closed Circuit Rebreather Diver Certification

5. Colorado Wreck Diver Certification (Certified as an official Colorado Scuba Instructor for wreck diving)


What does Colorado law say about diving?

Colorado water and Colorado diving laws are the same as Colorado fishing regulations (see Colorado Fishing Laws ). This is because Colorado law says that wherever you can fish, you may dive.

Courts have made it clear that any person who submits to Colorado water for recreational use of Colorado public waters impliedly consents to reasonable regulation while in or on those waters.


Diver-Down Flags

Diving laws require all Colorado divers to display a diver-down flag. The flag must be displayed when the diver is in the water or within 50 feet of where he/she plans to enter the water. Colorado law describes what type of flags are required and how they must be displayed.

Laws also require that all Colorado divers must have a three-inch high dive flag or 3 inch dive buoy displayed at the surface. This flag must be visible from distances of 200 feet in daylight and from 100 feet at night.

Flags be conspicuously displayed from a surface marker buoy or from shore.



Law specifies that snorkeling does not require a Colorado Water recreation permit, fishing license or diving certification. Colorado water law requires no diver-down signal for snorkelers.

If you are certified in Colorado as a scuba diver, open circuit (A type of SCUBA equipment that doesn’t require pressurization as opposed to a closed-circuit rebreather) you may snorkel Colorado water.

Snorkeling is free in Colorado State Water or from the land you own, but water law requires snorkelers to abide to local fishing laws. Snorkeling regulations prohibit snorkelers from being within 100 feet of “where the waters of Colorado are more than 200 feet deep at mean low tide” or in State Waters outside your land property line extending into open ocean waters.


Wreck Diving

Colorado closed-circuit/re-breather diver certification is required for Colorado wreck divers. Colorado COC and Colorado Limited Penetration certifications are not sufficient.

Wreck diving laws prohibit wreck divers from removing any historical artifacts and prohibit wreck diving within 100 feet of Colorado archeological sites.