Lake Havasu Boating Guide: Everything You Need to Know
You can find Lake Havasu on the Arizona and California border, right in the center of the triangle that the cities of Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Phoenix create. It sits in the transition zone where the lower Sonoran Desert meets the high country Mojave Desert.
Lake Havasu is a manufactured reservoir dammed up by the Parker Dam in 1938. This 26.3-mile-long and 2.85-mile-wide lake has a great 19,000-acre surface area. It has about 450-miles of shoreline to explore. While most of the lake is about thirty-five feet deep, the area near Parker Dam is closer to ninety feet deep.
The lake offers beautiful desert scenery, turquoise water, rocky cliffsides, and an abundance of fish and surrounding wildlife.
The Best Places To Take a Boat on Lake Havasu
Stay at a Boat-In Campsite
The Bureau of Land Management offers plenty of public land along Lake Havasu’s Arizona shorelines and seventy-three campsites that are only accessible by boat.
These beautiful first-come-first-serve sites are close to the water, and offer public restrooms, picnic tables, grills, and trash bins. As of June of 2022, these sites are $10 per day, or you can purchase an annual Shoreline Site pass for $100.
You can pay your camping fee or purchase passes online or from the Lake Havasu Field Office. You can find the field office at 1785 Kiowa Avenue, Lake Havasu City, AZ 86403.
There is a fourteen-day stay limit on each site. You can find a map of the sites here.
Check out the London Bridge
The London Bridge was originally constructed in London, England over the Thames River in 1831. This bridge served the area for 136 years. In the early nineteen hundreds, it started slowly sinking into the river, primarily due to the weight of the newly-invented automobiles that were crossing it. Eventually, in the late 1960s, the City of London put the bridge up for sale.
A wealthy entrepreneur named Robert P. McCulloch, Sr. purchased a large 16,640-acre plot of land on the east side of Lake Havasu, hoping to turn it into a town. He purchased the bridge for 2.4 million dollars (now worth the 2022 equivalent of over twenty million dollars) to attract visitors and grow Lake Havasu City. Spoiler alert— his risk paid off. Almost 60,000 people live in Lake Havasu City, and nearly 840,000 tourists visit the area every year.
Every single granite block on the bridge was numbered, dismantled, shipped, and reconstructed on the edge of Lake Havasu, crossing the Bridgewater Canal. Shipping the bridge by boat via the Panama Canal and then trucking them from Long Beach, California to Havasu, Arizona cost another seven million dollars (which would be almost sixty million today).
Visit the Bridgewater Channel that runs beneath the bridge. Not only is this a cool way to get a good look at the bridge, but there are several conveniently located hotels, marinas, restaurants, beaches, and other attractions right on the channel for you to explore and enjoy.
Hit Up a Delicious Boat-In Restaurant on Lake Havasu
You can check out our complete guide to Lake Havasu Restaurants on the water right here.
Where to Launch Your Boat
Site Six Launch Ramp
This is the only free public launch ramp for Lake Havasu and is conveniently located on “The Island.” You’ll drive over the London Bridge to access this area. This launch also has a handicapable fishing pier, a fish cleaning station, picnic areas, a beach, and restrooms.
You can find Site Six Launch Ramp at Beachcomber Blvd, Lake Havasu City, AZ 86403.
Lake Havasu Marina
Lake Havasu Marina is a full-service marina that offers restrooms, marine pump-outs, over 1,000 wet slips, and, of course, boat ramps. It is also located on the Island, close to the Channel.
Find the marina at 1100 McCulloch Blvd N, Lake Havasu City, AZ 86403.
Parker Dam Launch
Parker Dam Launch is in a scenic area at the far south end of the lake. There are also fishing and picnic areas, restrooms, a fishing pier, and boat-in campsites.
From here, you can see Parker Dam, which is the deepest dam in the world.
You can find this launch at the end of Takeoff Point Rd in Parker, AZ 85344.
Cattail Cove State Park
This 2,000 acre state park offers a four-lane boat ramp, boat-in campsites, restrooms, showers, covered picnic tables, a white sandy beach, a swim zone, and barbecue grills. It’s on the Arizona side of the lake, near the middle.
You can find the park and its boat ramp at the end of Cattail Cove Road, Lake Havasu City, AZ 86406.
Havasu Landing Resort and Casino Marina
This twenty-four-hour marina offers three boat ramps, fuel pumps, a boating store, a full-service grocery store, a full-service hardware store, a bakery, a deli, slips, and launch and retrieve services.
You can find this marina just northwest of The Island on the California side of Lake Havasu.
The address is 4 Main St, Havasu Lake, CA 92363.
To see our full guide to Lake Havasu Marinas, click here.
Lake Havasu Boating Rules
Like the Colorado River it sits upon, Lake Havasu follows both California and Arizona boating laws. Be aware of the rules set in place by both states, and act accordingly. Here are some of the most important laws to abide by:
- No reckless, negligent, or dangerous operation of boats. It is illegal to operate a vessel while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs. The legal blood alcohol limit is .08%.
- Everyone on board must wear a coast-guard approved life jacket for boats less than sixteen feet long, kayaks, or canoes. Personal watercraft and people being towed must also wear a life jacket. For boats sixteen feet long or longer, you must also provide one easy-to-reach Type IV device for throwing.
- Stand-up paddleboards are not recommended in high-speed, open water but are permitted.
- Motorized watercraft must always yield to non-motorized watercraft.
- Please stay to the right side of the lake, move in a counter-clockwise motion. This keeps boating collision risks to a minimum.
- Do not wakeboard or waterski between sunset and sunrise, only during daylight hours.
- No littering. This includes food waste and cigarette butts.
- No one under the age of sixteen may operate a motorized vessel. In Arizona, the law is twelve, but remember that you must follow both state laws in Lake Havasu.
- Do not block or interfere with launch ramps.
- If you are involved in a boating accident, you are required to stop, provide aid, and share your contact information.
- You are responsible for any damage that may occur from your boat’s wake. This includes other vessels and their passengers that you overtake.
- Bow, gunswhale, and transom riding are strictly prohibited.
- You can find the full list of Arizona Boating Laws here, and the complete list of California Boating Laws here.
Are you ready to hit the gorgeous waters of Lake Havasu in the breathtaking American southwest deserts? We have everything you need, from helpful boating resources, safety tips, guides, boats for rent, and even captains to man those boats so you can effortlessly enjoy your vacation. Book your Lake Havasu boat (and a captain, if you wish) right here.