Canyon Lake Water Activities

The Best Canyon Lake Water Activities

Written by Boatsetter Team
June 24, 2022

Canyon Lake is located in the mountains an hour east of Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona. The construction made this artificial 900-acre reservoir of the Mormon Flat Dam on the Salt River. It’s tucked away in Tonto National Forest and is a hotspot amongst local Arizonians and tourists alike.

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Canyon Lake Swimming Areas

Canyon Lake offers gorgeous, warm, wild, and natural water to swim in. It is open year-round for all, including swimmers.

Bring a sunshade umbrella to be safe, but more than likely, you’ll be able to find a nice shady spot under a tree that borders the swimming areas. It should go without saying that bringing your own water, sunhats, sunglasses, and sunscreen is a necessity. During the summer, the heat regularly exceeds one hundred degrees Fahrenheit, so pay attention to your body and don’t overexert yourself if you’re not used to this climate.

While there are many designated swimming areas on the shore, the coolest water is in deep water, best accessed by a boat.

If you choose to get in the water via shoreline, it would be wise to wear water shoes. Not only are the rocks jagged and sharp, but they are also slippery due to algae.

Some people bring inflatable tubes to float on. This can be a lot of fun, but note that there are boats on the lake, so the water isn’t flat, and there will be a few waves to bob over.

Water Sports on Canyon Lake

Water Skiing Canyon Lake

Canyon Lake draws many boaters, waterskiers, jet skiers, wakeboarders, wake surfers, kayakers, stand-up paddleboarders, and canoers.

If you’re all about taking it slow, getting in a pleasant exercise, and uniquely exploring coves and shorelines, paddling is one of the best ways to enjoy Canyon Lake.

If you prefer speed, thrills, and riding the waves, you should consider wakeboarding, waterskiing, wake surfing, or jetskiing.

Know that the area is sometimes shut down for wildfires, and there is a boating capacity. On the weekends and holidays from April to October, you may have to wait for other boats to leave before you’re allowed to get out on the water.

Some even decide to dive. The water reaches depths of one hundred and thirty feet, so it has quite a bit of area to explore. The visibility isn’t great but is usually 20 to 25 feet. After you go below thirty feet, it can be like a night dive. Canyon walls and crevices are interesting, and you’re sure to see tons of fish species here. Most of the fish are in the cracks of the canyon walls.

Since the water is warm year-round, it’s a pleasant and comfortable lake to dive in, especially as you dive down deep in the summer. In the summer, the water averages seventy-five degrees Fahrenheit; in the winter, it can drop to fifty or fifty-five degrees. 

A small underwater cave section at the base of the narrow section flows into Canyon Lake. It’s interesting to look at but use caution here.

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Where to Fish on Canyon Lake

Canyon Lake is best known for giant largemouth bass; the largest one set the Arizona state record at sixteen pounds and seven ounces.

In addition to largemouth bass, you can fish for smallmouth bass, yellow bass, black crappie, rainbow trout, bluegill, channel catfish, flathead catfish, bigmouth buffalofish, green sunfish, reader sunfish, Tilapia, and walleye.

If you choose to fish from the shoreline, go to La Barge Cove and then walk towards the Acacia Picnic Area (if you like to wander a bit on the shore). The fishing platforms and docks near the second ramp are usually pretty good.

Boat fishing tends to yield better results. You can fish from out in the open for larger fish or move over to the steep canyon walls. Many fish like to hide in the cracks and crevices of these massive rocks, so this is a good spot to look. La Barge Cove is one of the best spots on the lake. 

Palo Verde and Acacia Recreation areas are also pretty decent. If those locations aren’t working for you, try the Salt River Channel between Teddy Bear Hill and El Capitan Head.

There aren’t many trees overhanging the water, but they also make for good fishing spots too. If you see any floating debris, such as tree trunks, brush, or vegetation balls, try those areas. Many fish take shelter from the sun in these spots.

For spring fishing, stay in shallow waters, only casting to fifteen feet deep. Creek inlets, cuts, rocky points, and gravel flats are the best locations.

In the summer, you’ll want to go deeper. Usually, you’ll do your best to go to the north side of large rocky structures in the water.

Trout are usually near the main boat ramp but dive down to twenty to forty feet deep in the hottest parts of the summer. 

Whether heading to Canyon Lake for the sights, thrills, swims, or fishing, you’re sure to have a great day out on the water. The best way to fully experience all of what Canyon Lake has to offer is with a Boatsetter boat rental.


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