Best Lakes in Arizona

Arizona is home to large cities, Indian reservations, deserts, forests, and towering peaks, as well as the Grand Canyon National Park and Petrified Forest National Park. There is no coastline in the state, though it is home to some spectacular lakes.

Check out our list of the 5 best lakes in Arizona:

Bartlett Lake

Visitors to Bartlett Lake find a blend of warm desert landscapes with a cool lake oasis, providing visitors the best of both land and water activities. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Visitors to Bartlett Lake find a blend of warm desert landscapes with a cool lake oasis, providing visitors the best of both land and water activities. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Located in the mountains 24 miles east of Cave Creek, Bartlett Lake is one of those Arizona lakes. A man-made reservoir, Bartlett Lake was formed by the damming of the Verde (Spanish for “green”) River in 1939. The lake is framed by Sonoran desert scenery, with gentle sloping beaches on the west side and the rugged Mazatzal Mountains on the east side, studded with saguaro, cholla cacti, mesquite, ocotillo, and wildflowers.

The 2,000-acre lake is great for swimming, water skiing, and sailing, with its shoreline offering picnicking and barbequing. There are also a number of places to enjoy camping in the area, though the marina does have rooms for rent.

Lynx Lake

Located in the cool pines just outside of Prescott, Lynx Lake Recreation Area offers a wide variety of recreational opportunities that includes hiking, mountain biking, camping, fishing, boating, and picnicking. © Rex Vogel, all rights

Located in the cool pines just outside of Prescott, Lynx Lake Recreation Area offers a wide variety of recreational opportunities that includes hiking, mountain biking, camping, fishing, boating, and picnicking. © Rex Vogel, all rights

Located in the cool pines just outside of Prescott, Lynx Lake offers a wide variety of recreational opportunities that includes hiking, mountain biking, camping, fishing, boating, and picnicking. If you’re looking for a cool, calm, and relaxing day, this small body of water offers some of the best fishing in the area.

Nestled amid ponderosa pines and claiming temperatures 10 to 15 degrees below those in the desert, Lynx Lake holds rainbow trout, largemouth bass, crappie, and more. Even better, its waters are limited to electronic- or people-powered watercraft, perfect for fishing or napping. Paddle boats and canoes are seasonally available for rental.

Alamo Lake

Alamo Lake State Park offers outdoor fun, premier bass fishing, rest and relaxation. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Alamo Lake State Park offers outdoor fun, premier bass fishing, rest and relaxation. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Offering a scenic, cacti-studded landscape with a mountainous backdrop, Alamo Lake is tucked away in the Bill Williams River Valley. In addition to picturesque desert scenery, Alamo Lake State Park has much to offer its visitors recreationally. The area is known for its exceptional bass fishing opportunities, as well as canoeing, kayaking, and camping. For nature lovers, spring rains bring an abundance of wildflowers and the lake environment attracts a variety of wildlife year round.

Individual and group camping is available at Alamo Lake State Park. There are 19 full hook-up RV sites with 50 amp electric, water, and sewer located in the Main Campground. Additional sites have 30/50 amp electric and water at each site.

Patagonia Lake

A paradise for wildlife and outdoor enthusiasts Patagonia Lake State Park is an ideal place to find whitetail deer roaming the hills and great blue herons walking the shoreline. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A paradise for wildlife and outdoor enthusiasts Patagonia Lake State Park is an ideal place to find whitetail deer roaming the hills and great blue herons walking the shoreline. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tucked away in the rolling hills of southeastern Arizona is a hidden treasure. The campground overlooks a 265-acre man-made lake where anglers catch crappie, bass, bluegill, trout, and catfish. At an elevation of 3,750 feet and adjacent to the Sonoita Creek Natural Area, the park becomes a year-round haven with 105 campsites with a picnic table, a fire ring/grill, water, and 20/30/50-amp electric service; select sites also have a ramada. A dump station is centrally located in the park.

A paradise for wildlife and outdoor enthusiasts, Patagonia Lake State Park is an ideal place to find whitetail deer roaming the hills and great blue herons walking the shoreline. Hikers can stroll along the beautiful creek trail and see a variety of birds such as the canyon towhee, Inca dove, vermilion flycatcher, elegant trogon, black vulture, and several species of hummingbirds.

Parker Canyon Lake

Anyone striving to lose the crowd and fish alone should know about Parker Canyon Lake. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Anyone striving to lose the crowd and fish alone should know about Parker Canyon Lake. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This medium-sized 132 acre lake is nestled in the gentle Canelo Hills east of the Huachuca Mountains. Just seven miles north of Mexico, Parker Canyon Lake was created in 1966 by the Coronado National Forest and the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

Ringed with cottonwoods, juniper, piñon pine, scrub oak, and manzanita, Parker Canyon Lake offers a number of recreational possibilities for those willing to drive the dirt roads that lead to it.

From just about any point along the shore, Parker Canyon Lake doesn’t look very big. Take off on the trail around the lake, though, and you’ll find it’s a heck of a lot bigger than you thought.

Worth Pondering…

Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.

—Rachel Carson

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