Lake Pleasant Regional Park, AZ

Lake Pleasant Regional Park, one of ten Maricopa County Regional Parks, is a scenic water recreation area in the northwest Valley.

Spring wildflowers attract Snowbirds and local residents during March and April. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The breathtaking views offer visitors a great place to relax, whether it is from a boat or shoreline picnic or camping site.

Lake Pleasant is created by the Waddell Dam which obstructs the Agua Fria River creating a huge watershed and recreational area. The Central Arizona Project Aqueduct diverts water from the Colorado River to the lake.

The park offers numerous activities including camping, boating, fishing, swimming, hiking, picnicking, photography, and wildlife viewing.

Information is available at the Lake Pleasant Visitor Center about the Central Arizona Project, Waddell Dam, Lake Pleasant Park, the history of the area, and desert wildlife.

The Center also contains as a gift shop.

Step out onto the balcony surrounding the Visitor Center to get a beautiful view of Lake Pleasant and an up-close look at Waddell Dam.

Lake Pleasant Regional Park, within the area controlled by the Northeastern Yavapai during the historic period, was inhabited by Hohokam peoples during the prehistoric era. Five archeological sites were located during an archeological study of the Lake Pleasant area. Included in these five archeological sites were a stone workshop, a farmhouse, a defensive site, and two small villages. Undoubtedly many more sites were once present along the Agua Fria but have gone under the waters of Lake Pleasant. The five sites located during the study were occupied during the period A.D. 700 to 1450.

Wildflowers at Lake Pleasant Regional Park, April 2010. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Lake Pleasant Regional Park area, while historically part of the mining and range industries of Central Arizona, had no significant influence upon either. Prospectors met only with frustration. The few mines that did exist in the Lake Pleasant area were short-term projects.

There was no lack of prospectors who roamed the area in hopes of finding their bonanzas. Mollie Sawyer Monroe and Jacob Snively were among the more colorful.

Mollie Monroe, an eccentric female prospector during the 1860s and early 1870s, was a co-discoverer, along with her common-law husband George Monroe and others, of Castle Hot Springs. In 1877 Mollie was sent to Stockton, California, where Arizona’s mental patients were kept, after being declared insane. She died in 1902 at the State Hospital in Phoenix.

Jacob Snively, a man of unbounded energy as a prospector in California and Arizona, was notorious for his leading part in the Texas Revolution. He prospected the area about the same time as Mollie Monroe. Snively was killed by Big Rump (Wa-poo-i-ta), an Apache chieftain, in 1871 near the White Picacho, a prominent landmark about 18 miles northwest of the Park.

Lake Pleasant Regional Park offers three trails for hiking use only.

Let’s Go RVing to Lake Pleasant Regional Park. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Roadrunner Trail is a scenic 0.8 mile (1.3km) trail which overlooks Lake Pleasant and links the Visitor Center with picnic areas A, B, and the 10-lane boat ramp. There are a number of smaller trails that lead to the lake from Roadrunner Trail. Access to Roadrunner Trail is from the northeast corner of the Visitor Center parking lot.

The Pipeline Canyon Trail, the main hiking trail at the park is 2 miles (3.2km) in length. A floating bridge has been installed to connect the two sections of the trail during high water levels.

The Visitor Center Trail is a 1.5 mile (2.4km) trail which connects the Roadrunner Campground to the Visitor Center. This trail has interconnecting loops and some interpretive signage which makes it an ideal hike for visitors to stroll about, while enjoying the desert. Access to the Visitor Center Trail is from the northwest corner of the Visitor Center parking lot.

Always remember to carry plenty of water and let someone know where you are going.

Lake Pleasant Regional Park offers two boat launching ramps: 4-lane and 10-lane. Both ramps have restroom facilities, paved parking lots, and are functional to a water elevation of 1,600 feet. The 10-lane parking area allows for 480 vehicles, 355 vehicles with trailers, and 124 cars. The 4-lane ramp is located at the north end of the lake and the parking area allows for 112 vehicles with boat trailers.

Lake Pleasant Regional Park offers 148 sites for RV and tent camping.

Lake Pleasant offers 72 developed camping sites suitable for RVs of all sizes, with water and electrical hook-ups at Roadrunner Campground and another 25 at Desert Tortoise Campground; and 41 semi-developed sites at Desert Tortoise Campground

Hedgehog cactus in bloom at Lake Pleasant, a Maricopa County Regional Park. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Each developed site has water, electricity, covered ramada, picnic table, barbecue grill, and fire ring. Each semi-developed site and tent site has a covered ramada, picnic table, barbecue grill, and fire ring.

Other facilities include modern washrooms with flush toilets and hot showers, and a dump station. All sites are first-come, first served. In the event that the campground is full when you arrive, the park has an overflow area where you can park until a space becomes available.

For a map of Desert Tortoise Campground, click here.

For a map of Roadrunner Campground, click here.

Nightly camping fee for developed sites is currently $25.00 including tax, for semi-developed sites $17, and primitive $10.

Day use fee is $6.00.

Location and directions
41835 N. Castle Hot Springs Rd., Morristown, AZ 85342
Located on the northern edge of Peoria and about 45 minutes from downtown Phoenix, the park has several entrances. To get to the main area, take I-17 north to Carefree Highway (SR 74). Exit Carefree Highway and travel west 15 miles to Castle Hot Spring Road, and north 2 miles to Lake Pleasant Regional Park entrance.
For map, click here.

Please note

Maricopa County parks will be unveiling a new reservation system this winter. Campers have been asking for a system that would allow them to reserve a campsite prior to arriving at the park.

Free camping
Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department is offering free camping at most county park campgrounds until Wednesday, November 10, 2010. This free camping program is NOT being offered at Lake Pleasant.

Worth Pondering…
I am part of all that I have met
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro
Gleams that untravell’d world, whose margin fades
Forever and forever when I move.
—Alfred Lord Tennyson

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