How to Survive the Summer: Water Recreation in Arizona

Dori Wittrig August 10, 2020

Boating, jet-skiing, fishing, kayaking, rafting, or swimming. We are blessed with many options for water sports that provide a welcome respite during the heat of summer. Arizona’s founding fathers had the vision to balance recreational use, functional water supplies, and energy management.


Only 20 minutes east of Fountain Hills, Saguaro Lake features a full-service marina, boat rentals, and restaurant. The Desert Belle is a resort cruise boat hosting guests on a 90-minute tour of the lake.
It’s also a great venue for private or corporate events. Butcher Jones Recreational Site on the north side of the lake features a beach and a lake-view hiking trail.


On the upper section of the Salt River is the dam that started it all, Roosevelt Dam. The lake has 128 miles of sandy shoreline and crystal blue warm water. The full-service marina offers a full-hookup RV park, and boat rentals. It’s also a popular spot for fishing and has nearby hiking trails. Be sure to check out nearby Tonto National Monument.


Dubbed the “hidden gem of the Salt River Lakes”, Apache Lake gives visitors gorgeous views and seclusion. Surrounded by the Superstition Wilderness, it is a favorite for boating, fishing, water sports, hiking, and camping. There is a full-service marina, RV park and camping, a restaurant and bar, and three motels.


Canyon Lake has 28 miles of cactus-dotted shoreline and a designated swimming area. The full-service marina includes boat rentals. Visitors come for water sports, fishing, and camping at the Canyon Lake Marina Campground.


The Saguaro Lake Guest Ranch is situated at the bottom of Saguaro Lake’s Stewart Dam along the Salt River. This historic ranch is one of the most scenic guest ranches in the southwest. Spend a night in one of their rustic cabins, attend a cowboy dinner, or rent a kayak with full-service pickup at the end of your trip.


Fed by the waters of the Verde River, Bartlett Lake features shore camping, a full-service marina with boat rentals, and hiking trails. You can grab a meal at The Last Stop Bar & Grill located by the marina.


One of the most scenic water recreation areas in the Valley of the Sun, Lake Pleasant is a recreationist’s dream. Enjoy camping, boating, fishing, swimming, hiking, picnicking, stargazing, and wildlife viewing. There is a Discovery Center (closed during COVID-19), and a restaurant. This reservoir is part of the Central Arizona Project, bringing water from the Lower Colorado River into central and southern Arizona.


Tempe Town Lake is a desert oasis in the middle of the Phoenix metro area. This lake’s water is supplied by the Colorado and Salt Rivers. Visitors can rent small boats, kayaks, and paddleboards. It is home to the ASU Sailing Club and is used by several rowing clubs. Other activities include fishing, biking, jogging, and picnicking.

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