5 Best Arizona Lakes

Extremely diverse in terms of terrain, Arizona boasts some spectacular scenery. Mountains, flatlands, deserts, canyons, rivers, and lakes make Arizona an outdoor lovers’ haven.

Check out our list of the 5 best Arizona lakes:

Lake Pleasant Regional Park

From boating to water-skiing to parasailing and scuba diving, this park offers an abundance of aquatic activities at Lake Pleasant Regional Park. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

From boating to water-skiing to parasailing and scuba diving, this park offers an abundance of aquatic activities at Lake Pleasant Regional Park. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The largest lake in the Phoenix area, Lake Pleasant Regional Park is a boaters dream, boasting a surface area of just under 12 square miles and a shoreline that stretches for over 110 miles.

Lake Pleasant Regional Park is a major recreational area, known for its excellent boating and fishing. Fish species found in the lake include white bass, crappie, sunfish, and tilapia.

The lake boasts some fantastic scenery, with its surrounding area being great for hiking, picnicking, mountain biking, and camping. There are two marinas on lake’s shoreline that offer boat rentals, storage, and mooring, as well as having a shop and a restaurant.

Canyon Lake

The most scenic of the Salt River-fed lakes, Canyon abounds with the steep walls and cliffs its name suggests. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The most scenic of the Salt River-fed lakes, Canyon abounds with the steep walls and cliffs its name suggests. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Canyon Lake was created in 1925 with the damming of the Salt River. The 940-acre lake is the smallest and most scenic of the Salt River-fed lakes. Located on Apache Trail Scenic Byway, the lake is 14 miles north of Apache Junction. It is a popular spot for recreational activities including hiking, camping, fishing, and boating. Idyllic year-round weather makes Canyon Lake a great destination for all watersports and camping enthusiasts. Expect bumper-to-bumper traffic on weekends, year-round.

The scenery at the lake is phenomenal, what with the surrounding Superstition Wilderness Area.

Canyon Lake abounds with the steep walls and cliffs its name suggests. The beauty more than makes up for its comparatively small size.

Apache Lake

From Canyon Lake continue along Apache Trail 20 miles to Apache Lake, one of four reservoirs that sit along the Salt River. Located in the Tonto National Forest, Apache Lake is a popular destination for recreational activities, many of which are offered at the lake’s marina.

Fishing is one of the more desirable things to do here, with largemouth bass, crappie, channel catfish, walleye, and sunfish often being caught. Also on the shoreline of the lake are three motels, an RV park, and a restaurant. In addition to the Apache Trail, there are also a number of other trails surrounding the lake.

Watson Lake & Granite Dells

Worn smooth by the elements, the Dells provide a scenic backdrop as you kayak or canoe along the calm surface of the lake. And when the light is right and the surface is mirror-like, it’s a photo op like no other. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worn smooth by the elements, the Dells provide a scenic backdrop as you kayak or canoe along the calm surface of the lake. And when the light is right and the surface is mirror-like, it’s a photo op like no other. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Perhaps you prefer your water with a view. It’s hard to beat the rocky sentinels standing guard along Watson Lake. A Prescott-area gem, the Granite Dells consist of exposed bedrock and large boulders of granite that have eroded into an unusual lumpy, rippled appearance.

Worn smooth by the elements, the Dells provide a scenic backdrop as you kayak or canoe along the calm surface of the lake. And when the light is right and the surface is mirror-like, it’s a photo op like no other. Canoe and kayak rentals are available.

Saguaro Lake

Saguaro Lake © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Saguaro Lake © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

One of the reservoirs along the Salt River, Saguaro Lake sits within the Tonto National Forest in Maricopa County. It is a picturesque lake that is surrounding by stunning natural landscapes, sitting at an elevation of 1,500 feet above sea level.

Saguaro Lake is known for its great fishing, with rainbow trout, largemouth bass, yellow bass, crappie, channel catfish, tilapia, and a plethora of other fish calling the lake home. Kayaking, water skiing, sailing, and jet skiing are also enjoyed within the lake.

Along the shoreline is a marina that houses a restaurant, boat ramps, restrooms and picnic tables. There is also a beach (Butcher Jones Beach) that offers swimming and picnicking.

The Saguaro del Norte recreation site is near Stewart Mountain Dam and has a restaurant, picnic tables, restrooms, boat ramps, and a marina with boat rentals. Board the Desert Belle for a sightseeing cruise. A camping site with 30 spaces is accessible only by boat and is open year-round.

Worth Pondering…

In every walk with nature, one receives more than he seeks.

—John Muir

Leave a Reply