Boating in the desert doesn’t sound like a possibility, at first glance. But in Phoenix, we’re lucky to be close enough to a half dozen lakes offering boating enthusiasts a playground for water sports — from fishing to wakeboarding to tubing.
Thanks to a smart, managed reservoir system, boaters in the Phoenix area have a number of options when they’re ready to hit the water. Some require a little more travel and planning than others, but each offers a unique experience and an incredible backdrop against the mountains, canyons, and cactus for which the Sonoran desert is known.
Here’s everything you need to know about the six best lakes to boat in the Phoenix area.
Fed by the Agua Fria River, Lake Pleasant is part of a larger, regional park and offers 7,500 acres of wide-open water. The lake — near Peoria — has a full-service marina that is open 365 days a year and there is quite a bit of parking available. An added bonus? The feral donkeys that roam in the area are a fun side dish for a day on the water.
The fourth and final reservoir for the Salt River, Saguaro Lake is not far from Mesa and offers just over 1,200 acres of open water for boating, swimming, and paddle sports. The lake is known for its champion bass and carp, and offers great views of the mountains that surround it.
Another reservoir for the Salt River, Canyon Lake offers about 950 acres of water, much of which weaves through canyon walls. Canyon Lake, not far from Apache Junction, is a great spot for fishing and relaxing, but some of the skinny canyons and crowded weekends can make this lake more challenging for wakeboarders and tubers.
Sandwiched between Roosevelt Lake and Canyon Lake, Apache Lake is a tucked-away spot where boaters can get lucky enough to find some true peace and quiet — simply for its isolation (during the offseason, in particular). And, since the 2,568-acre lake is nestled into the surrounding mountains, the views are unmatched.
The state’s largest internal lake, Roosevelt Lake is the biggest reservoir for the Salt River, located not far from Tonto Basin. With nearly 21,500 acres of water, Roosevelt offers plenty of space for all kinds of watersports — even during peak season. The lake is also home to shoreline camping and small islands that serve as cool castaway camps.
Located just northeast of the Phoenix area, Bartlett lake offers more than 2,800 acres of water set against a classic, Arizona mountain backdrop. Bartlett Lake, fed by the Verde River, offers a full-service marina, cool coves to check out, open water for wakeboarding and tubing, and ample shoreline for relaxing.
Of course, the most important thing to remember as a boat owner headed out to any of Arizona’s lakes — beyond safe practices on the water — is proper permitting. Most of the lakes closest to Phoenix require a Tonto Pass or some other user pass and they’re not always available at the lake. So, plan ahead.
And, when you’re ready to pack up and let your boat recover before the next lake day, check in with us at I-10 RV Storage to find a post that fits your needs.
Contact us to learn more about our state-of-the-art facilities and our competitive rates!