14 Great Lakes and Rivers for Boating Near Phoenix

Laura Williams

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Photo by Pietro De Grandi on Unsplash

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Summertime is the perfect time to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather. And what better way to do that than by spending a day on the water? Whether you’re looking for a place to cool off or want to try your hand at some fishing, these lakes and rivers near Phoenix are just what you need. So pack a picnic lunch and get ready for some fun in the sun in these lakes in Phoenix!


Lake Pleasant

Photo Source
Lake Pleasant – Photo Source


Lake Pleasant, located a 50-minute drive from downtown Phoenix, is a great place for a picnic, fishing, watersports, and hiking and one of the best lakes in Arizona! There is plenty of room on the lake for everyone to enjoy themselves.

The lake is open 365 days a year and has two boat ramps. You don’t need your boat to enjoy the lake as there are also plenty of picnic areas and hiking trails. The views from the hiking trails are incredible, and in the spring you’ll see a lot of wildflowers.

The Lake Pleasant Regional Park is always bustling with a variety of water sports and outdoor enthusiasts. It’s the perfect place to spend a day or weekend away from the city. Fees: Lake Pleasant Regional Park has a $7 entrance fee per vehicle. For the best hike:

The top hike at Lake Pleasant is the Yavapai Point Trail, a 3-mile out and back trail that offers incredible views of the lake.

Canyon Lake

Canyon Lake - <a href="https://canyonlakemarina.com/">Photo Source</a>
Canyon Lake – Photo Source


45 miles from Phoenix lies Canyon Lake. It is a man-made lake located in the Superstition Wilderness of Tonto National Forest. A 950-acre lake is a great place for a variety of watersports in addition to camping and hiking. Boat rentals are available and the lake has a popular day-use campground with a large grass area, shady ramadas, and a swimming-only section of the lake. The day-use area fills up fast so reservations are recommended.

Canyon Lake is the perfect place to spend a day or weekend. There are plenty of activities to keep you busy, including swimming, hiking, paddle boarding, and more. The scenery is beautiful and the Apache Trail Scenic Drive is a bonus.

Roosevelt Lake

Roosevelt Lake - <a href="https://rlmaz.com/about/roosevelt-lake-marina/">Photo Source</a>
Roosevelt Lake – Photo Source


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If you are looking for a great lake to spend the day at, Roosevelt Lake is a perfect option. Visiting is well worth the 100-mile trip. This man-made lake is located about 100 miles from downtown Phoenix and offers plenty of activities for visitors. You can boat, kayak, fish, and hike around the lake. There are also restaurants and picnic areas available. One of the best things about Roosevelt Lake is the amazing views you can enjoy while you are there. The Theodore Roosevelt Dam is a popular spot to check out, and there are also hiking trails that offer great views of the lake. If you are looking for a scenic drive, Apache Trail is a great option. This road goes right past the dam and offers beautiful views of the surrounding area. Fees vary depending on what activities you choose to do, but America the Beautiful Passes are accepted at most locations.

Granite Reef Recreation Site

Granite Reef Recreation Site - <a href="https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/tonto/recreation/picnickinginfo/recarea/?recid=35395&actid=70">Photo Source</a>
Granite Reef Recreation Site – Photo Source


Granite Reef Recreation Site is a must-see if you’re in the Mesa area. Not only are there beautiful wild horses grazing in the Lower Salt River area, but there’s also a great view of Mt. McDowell to be enjoyed. We recommend trying a rafting tour here to see the horses up close in their natural

This is a perfect place to bring the whole family – it’s friendly enough for kids and adults alike. So, come on down to Granite Reef and enjoy all that it has to offer!

Book a Kayaking tour for the Lower Salt River area on GetYourGuide here

Bartlet Lake

Bartlet Lake - <a href="https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/tonto/null/recarea/?recid=35333&actid=42">Photo Source</a>
Bartlet Lake – Photo Source


If you’re looking for a great escape from the city, Bartlett Lake is a great option. It’s located just 55 miles from Phoenix downtown, and it’s one of the only lakes that provide aqua lodge rentals – perfect for larger groups. You can also find a variety of boats and jet skis for rent at the Bartlett Lake Marina. And when you’re ready to refuel, The Last Stop Bar and Grill are right near the Marina. You can also rent a party yacht that can accommodate up to 20 people, making it the perfect spot for a fun weekend getaway. Bartlett Lake is surrounded by beautiful scenery, so it’s the perfect place to relax and enjoy some time outdoors. The sandy beaches and cool water make it a perfect place to escape the heat of summer.

Saguaro Lake

Saguaro Lake - <a href="https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/tonto/null/recarea/?recid=35547&actid=84">Photo Source</a>
Saguaro Lake – Photo Source


Saguaro Lake is only a 45-minute drive away from downtown Phoenix and a great place for both thrill-seeking water-skiers and wakeboarders or those seeking a relaxing day of fishing or just hanging out on a sailboat. The lake is split into two main parts; upper and lower Saguaro Lake. The lower portion is bigger and has more open water surfaces while the upper end of the lake offers canyons, coves, and boat access-only camping spots. Book a kayaking tour to get up close and personal with the towering rock walls or enjoy a sunset cruise. Don’t forget your camera because this is one of the most beautiful lakes in Arizona.

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The best hikes at Saguaro Lake are the Butcher Jones Trail and the Burro Cove Trail. The Butcher Jones Trail is a moderate 5-mile out and back hike that takes you along the lake with incredible views the whole way.

You can purchase a Tonto Daily Pass for $12 at a kiosk in the parking lot of the recreation area. Tonto Discovery Passes, annual passes to the area, are also available and cost $40.

Book a Kayak & Paddle tour on GetYourGuide here

Salt River

Salt River - <a href="https://www.facebook.com/SaltRiverTubingAZ/photos/2321419894676276">Photo Source</a>
Salt River – Photo Source


Salt River is a great place to go if you’re looking for a relaxing weekend. With its tubing establishment, you can enjoy the river without having to worry about anything. They also have a rafting route that will take you through the Upper Salt River and show you some of the most beautiful views of Arizona.

Romero Pools


If you’re looking for a place to take a break from the sun and the heat, Romero Pools is the place for you. This spot is located in Romero Canyon and is made up of natural rock potholes that provide a shady and cool spot to relax. It’s an awesome place to go for a chill time with friends or family.

Wet Beaver Creek

Wet Beaver Creek - <a href="https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/coconino/recreation/fishing/recarea/?recid=74377&actid=43">Photo Source</a>
Wet Beaver Creek – Photo Source


Wet Beaver Creek is a beautiful oasis located in Sedona, Arizona. The creek is known for its stunning red rock cliffs and cacti, as well as its many natural pools and waterfalls. Visitors can enjoy exploring the trails that wind through the creek or simply relax by the water. There are also plenty of picnic areas and outdoor activities available, making Wet Beaver Creek a great place to spend a day or weekend.

Watson Lake

Watson Lake - <a href="https://www.prescott-az.gov/recreation-area/watson-lake-park/">Photo Source</a>
Watson Lake – Photo Source


Located north of Phoenix, Watson Lake is a popular spot for swimming, kayaking, boating, and hiking. The lake features stunning granite rocks and provides wonderful views for visitors. A great hike to take around the lake is the Watson Lake and Flume Trail, which is a 4.5-mile loop. The hike takes you along the lake and through the granite rocks, providing many wonderful views along the way. Parking near the lake is $3. After your time at the lake, be sure to explore downtown Prescott, where you’ll find several restaurants and shops.

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Water Wheel

Water Wheel - <a href="https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/tonto/null/recarea/?recid=35587&actid=70">Photo Source</a>
Water Wheel – Photo Source


Water Wheel is one of the most underrated swimming holes in Arizona. It’s off too many people’s radar, but it’s worth a visit. There are many amazing sceneries to take in, including whirlpools, rock fountains, and the arching torrent and plunge pool. The best part is that it’s beginner-friendly, so you don’t have to be an experienced swimmer to enjoy it.

Tempe Town Lake

Tempe Town Lake - Donut Boat - Photo Source
Tempe Town Lake – Donut Boat – Photo Source


Tempe Town Lake, just 12 miles from Phoenix, is a beautiful and popular spot in Tempe, Arizona. The lake is a great place to relax, take a walk, or go for a swim. There are also plenty of places to eat and drink around the lake. You can enjoy a variety of activities at the lake, such as fishing, kayaking, and paddleboarding. The lake is often the backdrop for fun events like concerts and festivals. If you’re looking for a fun day out in Tempe, make sure to check out Tempe Town Lake.

Grasshopper Point

Grasshopper Point - <a href="https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/coconino/recarea/?recid=55314">Photo Source</a>
Grasshopper Point – Photo Source


Grasshopper Point is a location known by locals in Sedona for its hidden gemstone appeal and undisturbed swimming hole. If you are looking for a peaceful swimming hole to take a break-in, this is the spot for you. The cliffs surrounding the area make it feel like your own personal heaven. You can also venture upstream to challenge the cascades and end with a leap of courage off the rocks.

Apache Lake

Apache Lake
Apache Lake – Photo Source


Apache Lake is one of the many lakes located in the Tonto National Forest, and it’s well worth your time to visit! The scenery surrounding the lake is beautiful and it’s a great place for trout fishing. There are also boat rentals available and a motel and restaurant on-site, so you don’t have to rough it if you don’t want to. And if you’re looking for some great camping spots nearby, Apache Lake doesn’t disappoint.

There are plenty of lakes to choose from if you’re looking for a great day trip around Phoenix. Each lake has its personality and set of activities that make it special. Whether you want to go fishing, hiking, swimming, or boating, there’s a lake nearby that will fit the bill. So what are you waiting for? Grab your sunscreen and water shoes and head out for a day (or several) of fun on the water!

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