Often one of the most overlooked and underrated destinations, Phoenix offers a fantastic river boating experience. Salt River, intersecting the heart of Phoenix provides an in-city opportunity to fish and boat. Along the river is Saguaro Lake, offering miles of fishing from catfish, yellow perch, large-mouth bass and rainbow trout. In the upper Salt River Canyon you can find plenty of river rafting trips through the wilderness and in the Lower Salt River, the Arizona tradition of river tubing!
From Canyon Lake, enjoy the scenic drive up Apache Trail. Surrounded by the Superstition Wilderness and home to the Legend of The Lost Dutchman’s gold mine, Apache Lake is known for its high canyon walls and deep mountain valleys. Be sure to bring your camera to capture stunning views along the water of this magnificent landscape.
Arizona is home to many magnificent lakes and rivers that are perfect for boating, canoeing, kayaking, and enjoying the legendary sunshine. Known for its warm, desert climate and variety of aloes, saguaros, and prickly pears, water may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the Valley of the Sun. Although the cacti and glorious desert backdrop are inarguably stunning, we can assure you the landscape has a lot more to offer! Plan your getaway with a free Official Phoenix Travel Guide, and be sure to check the Phoenix Calendar of Events for a complete listing of upcoming shows and concerts.
With crystal clear waters served by the area’s rivers, the Greater Phoenix Area lakes offer an abundance of opportunity for water activities, including power boating, water skiing and fishing, kayaking, and canoeing. Spend a day out on the lake and enjoy picturesque desert and mountain views, tree-like stands of Saguaro Cactus, and stunning wildflowers. Don’t miss the beautiful painted canyon walls of Saguaro Lake, Canyon Lake, and Apache Lake. Keep an eye out for the wild roaming burros at Lake Pleasant, while majestic mountain sheep and soaring eagles are common sights at Apache Lake. If you are an avid fisherman, get ready to experience some of the best bass fishing in the country. Largemouth, smallmouth and white bass are abundant in the lakes, and trophy catches are not uncommon.
You won’t want to miss the amazing views at Canyon Lake. Located just northeast of Mesa and Apache Junction, Canyon Lake offers beautiful vistas and the most magnificent canyon walls.
The Verde River is a 200-mile unique resource, and one of the last free flowing rivers in the Southwest. The Verde River derives its name from the Spanish word “verde,” meaning “green.” With its varied landscape, diverse terrain, and distinctive features, the Verde River provides excellent recreational opportunities for boating, fishing, birding, photography and wildlife viewing. Canoers and kayakers will also enjoy paddling along the Verde River Paddle Trail.
Summer in Phoenix means tubing down Salt River, and there is no better way to escape the summer heat! Just a short drive from Phoenix, Salt River is a recreational paradise of refreshing mountain-stream waters and spectacular vistas. The river provides the perfect vantage point to admire the beauty of the Sonoran Desert. Wildlife sightings are also common, so keep your eyes peeled for deer, wild horses, great blue herons, and bald eagles. The calm Lower Salt River offers stunning views and calmer waters, while the Upper Salt River offers whitewater thrills and rapids. Whether you choose to tube, kayak, canoe, fish, or raft, you’re in for the time of your life!
Popular among water recreation enthusiasts, Bartlett Lake is known for its magnificent desert-mountain views and Saguaro-studded foothills, as well as the blooming cacti and wildflowers that paint the landscape in spring. Outdoor enthusiasts frequent Bartlett Lake for a variety of recreational opportunities, including boating, water skiing and jet skiing.
The Gila National Forest contains many miles of streams that provide both cold and warm water fishing opportunities. Both the Gila River and the San Francisco River along with their many tributaries are located within the Phoenix area. Upper reaches and headwater tributaries of both rivers offer trout fishing, the lower reaches of both rivers offer quality warm water fishing opportunities. The Gila River runs literally from one end of the state to the other. If you take time to study the Gila or if you’re fortunate enough to talk to someone that tells you where these "holes" are, you’re going to catch some lunker largemouths.
Enjoy the scenic 45-minute drive from downtown Phoenix to Lake Pleasant, the second largest of the Phoenix area lakes with over 10,000 acres of fresh blue water. Lake Pleasant features stunning views of the canyon walls, and is a popular hotspot for power boating, water skiing and fishing.
Located 40 miles northeast of Phoenix, Saguaro Lake offers incredible views and exceptional boating fun. Amenities include boat mooring and rentals, as well as a restaurant and picnic facilities.
Further up the Apache Trail lies Roosevelt Lake, the farthest from the Phoenix area. At over 17 miles in length, Roosevelt Lake is the largest of the lakes within a 1½ hour driving distance of Phoenix. Amenities include marina features, campgrounds and RV parks.
This is the fifth largest tributary of the Colorado River. The river here is unique, with breathtaking views of the Rocky Mountains that you won’t typically find along ocean coastlines. This river is a favorite for wakeboarders wanting to relish the favorable wakeboarding conditions of the Gunnison River. It’s warm and sandy bottom beaches welcome both swimmers and watersports lovers looking to cool off each summer.
186 miles in length and 1,960 miles of shoreline makes Lake Powell longer than the entire west coast of the continental. Lake Powell is notorious for its red rock canyon views and natural aches. The top sightseeing destination on Lake Powell is Rainbow Bridge. Only 23 lake miles from Wahweap marina sits Padre Bay, the largest bay of Lake Powell, which stretches seven miles across and nine miles long with gorgeous views of monuments such as the Domingues Butte, Tower Butte, Cookie Jar Butte, and Boundary Butte. From Padre Bay, there are several back shoots like Kane Wash Canyon, which is great for kayaking and exploring.
Rafting the Colorado River is an exciting proposition with different options. You could have a half-day and full-day smooth water trip on the river. You could launch from diamond creek and take out at Lake Mead typically and spend between 2 days and 5 days. Permits are available to the public for these type of trips starting one year in advance and are distributed on a first come first have basis.