Arizona Boating Lakes

Arizona boating lakes are found throughout the entire state. From mountains to deserts, you can get into a boat of some sort. What did you have in mind for your boating trip? Just paddle or motor around exploring? Or go fishing? Maybe land onto a hidden cove or beach? Try a boat-in campsite - Arizona has boating lakes offering that!

We'll show you what we mean. After all, we're from Arizona. And we're always visiting and investigating lakes in our state.

lake in a desert landscape, with a few trees adjacent to a lakeside picnic table with a cooler on top.What Type of Arizona Boating Lakes Would You Expect to Find?

City Lakes

Thinking of city parks with lakes, they're often smaller in size. Yet they usually have room for assorted types of boats. Even sometime offering rentals.

  • Prescott Arizona Boating Lake - Watson Lake: 89N out of town, at roundabout take exit to park. Gorgeously ringed by towering boulders! No swimming. But bring or rent watercraft (electric motors only) to explore cave-like indentations amidst rocky outcroppings.1 Campground open in summer. Or have a day-delight picnic! Playground, hiking, rock climbing.5
  • Tucson Arizona Boating Lake - Lakeside Lake: In Chuck Ford Lakeside Park, East side of town. Depths to 35' in this 14 acre lake. 17' maximum smaller craft such as canoes, 14' maximum boats, no gas engines. Multiple launching ramps. Parking access off E.Stella Rd. & S.Sarnoff Dr. Reach it from I-10 Exit 270, turn North onto Kolb Rd., continue past Amazon complex & Air Force Plane Storage yards, right on E.Stella Rd. to 8201. Left into park.
Poster showing the boat launch in a Yuma Arizona park
  • Yuma Boating "Lake" - West Wetlands Park Lake: Although this small lake (some refer to it as a pond) doesn't having boating, just adjacent at Centennial Beach is the boat ramp into lower reaches of the Colorado River. Yes it still flows, & pretty calmly here! Wetlands Park also has short trails, picnic tables/ramadas, Butterfly Garden, & a Creative Playground.
  • Williams Arizona Boating Lake - Dogtown Reservoir: Drive South on 173 (Perkinsville Rd.), then left on FR140, another left on FR132. Electric motors or non-motorized on 70 acres. Camping too. Near Bill Williams Mountain.1
  • Phoenix Arizona Area Boating Lake - Tempe Town Lake: Created from waters sourced elsewhere, into the dry (in this area) Salt River, dammed on both sides of the lake. Popular, but on off-days during the week, lots more room amidst its 2 mile length.1 Take 202/L Exit7, then South on N.Scottsdale Rd., East into E.Playa del Norte, curving right into E.Tempe Town Lake to parking. Marina & boat launch for craft powered by electric, wind or people. Rentals nearby. Nice path lakeside, & visit adjacent parks.

High Desert Lakes

Some northern areas of Arizona get little rainfall, appearing like dry prairie grasslands, or have stunted juniper forests. Their elevation is much higher than the Sonoran Desert. Some are part of the Mojave Desert. Most often these Arizona boating lakes were created by dam construction.

  • Kinnickinnick Lake - Quite remote, just West of high country mountains. 10hp maximum, also Morton Lake adjacent. Wildlife seen are elk, bald eagle, even antelope. Fishing is good, trout stocked. Day-use picnic area. I-17 Lake Mary Rd. exit, 30 miles turn onto FR125, then FR82.2 Access may be difficult in rainy times, during Monsoon. Mud abounds.1
  • McHood Park Lake - Also know as Clear Creek Reservoir. Sourced from East Clear Creek, get there out of Winslow, Rt. 87S, turn left on Hwy. 99E 4+ miles, make left to campsite for boat ramp/launch. Or over the bridge to McHood Park Lane for entry.1 The park is in Winslow's jurisdiction. Also picnic tables & ramadas, vault toilets.
  1. Campground area is open, more lake-like, with vegetation alongside. But be aware of poison oak/poison ivy. But caution: don't boat near the dam, as suctioning whirlpools can occur in that area. Definitely observe NO SWIMMING signs there.1
  2. Better to go the opposite direction, toward the park & bridge. Gorgeous rocky cliffsides. Swimming & jump-off areas there are popular. Boating up-current, lakesides become more canyon-like the farther you go. Eventually you'll reach East Clear Creek.

Find even more Arizona boating lakes in the high desert. For example, Lake Mead>


Southern Deserts

Lakes occur in the Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts. Some smaller than those of the high desert, not as many can sustain boat travel. On the other hand, because of dams in major rivers, some are much larger.

  • San Carlos Reservoir - The drawback is getting required permit from the San Carlos Apaches. Get it in Peridot at Basha's or Wildlife/Rec Office. The lake's on their native lands. The advantages are you'll have the lake nearly to yourself off-times. Many dirt roads lead to the water's edge for launching. Even gulls & pelicans are seen here, with over 19,000 acre-feet. It's a fabulous fishing lake. Best times are in Spring & Autumn.1
  1. Accessed from Globe, East on Hwy. 70, right onto Rt.170, it's 13 miles to dam. But you'll start seeing dirt spurs accessing the lake.
  • Peña Blanca Lake - Spring fed, pristine lake, suitable for year-round trips at 4000' elevation. It's oasis like!1 Non-motorized or max 8hp limit. NO live bait fish, if angling. Boat ramp & fishing piers. For further enjoyment, take the lakeshore trail, it's a wonderful birding area. There's nice picnic areas, too. South of Tucson, From I-10 to I-19 Exit 12/Ruby Rd. Right onto 289W to right turn for lake.
  • Roper Lake - We visit this lake frequently. We like to bring our camper, and use the lake for its activities offered. It's in an Arizona state park, and you can bring your boat. Fishing is pretty good. We recommend this Arizona Boating Lake.
Distant view of lake with desert in foreground and mountains in background.A View of Roper Lake from the Park's Mesa Trail

White Moutain Arizona Boating Lakes

Truly a deluge of lakes in the White Mountains. Essentially the Eastern mid-section of the state is where you'll find these Arizona boating lakes.

  • Carnero Lake - From Springerville 260W, MM385 North on FR118, watch for left on 117A. Go 3 miles, take left spur to lake. You'll love the solitude & wildlife. Elk, open range cattle. Marsh bird habitat. Great for putting in your canoe or kayak.1 It's had some problems in recent past years for fishing, with it's shallow depth, and Arizona's drought.3
  • Greer Lakes - Set of 3 lakes adjacent to each other. Sourced from damming Little Colorado River, they supply irrigation needs. But they're excellent fishing lakes. Two Forest Service campgrounds in immediate vicinity. Hwy. 260E out of Pinetop/Lakeside, right onto 33, left onto Fs87B.1
  1. River Reservoir is largest. Non-motor & up to 10hp motors ok.1 Fs87B all the way, leads to parking & launch ramp.
  2. Bunch Reservoir is normally 2nd largest. Non-motorized & electric motor craft only.1 Across from Hoyer Campground, turn left for parking, craft launch & then a nice picnic area.
  3. Tunnel Reservoir is smallest. Only non-motorized/electric. First right off Fs87B to parking & launch.
  • Reservation Lake - Beautifully forested 9,000' elevation puts it in the "Canadian Life Zone" of Arizona.4 Over 200 surface acres, it's on White Mountain Apache Lands. A Use Permit must be gotten first. Electric motors or non-motorized craft only.1 Marina/store on-site. From Pinetop/Lakeside take Rt 260E to Rt. 273 to the Sunrise Turn-off. Watch for signs to lake & campground.7

More Arizona High Country Lakes

As you move outward from the White Mountains, the elevations are still higher than deserts. And there are Arizona boating lakes to be found!

  • Ashurst Lake - South of Flagstaff, I-17 Lake Mary Rd. Exit, left on 82East. Camping, maximum 8hp motors. Busy summer weekends with inflated craft, canoes, kayaks. For more solitude spring, autumn & weekdays idea.1
Main in a small motor-boat on a lake with pine trees and mountains in the background.Can't beat the serene scenes at Ashurst Lake!
boat launch area into a lake with instructional rules signageLaunch Ramp: Get Your Craft into C.C. Cragin Lake
  • Blue Ridge Reservoir - Also called C.C. Cragin Reservoir. From Payson, AZ 87N to gravel road (closed winter): FR 751 for 6 miles. Boating 10hp max. Swimming ok, if not within 50 feet of boat ramp.2 Steep, scenic canyon sides.1 Updated conditions: 928-477-2255
  • Stoneman Lake - Unique in its formation. Some say it's a water-filled ancient volcanic caldera, but more likely it's a water-filled sink-hole. Wouldn't recommend it for fishing.6
  1. Lively birding area & sighting other wildlife. Lovely for picnicking with tables provided. 
  2. Boating with single electric or non-motorized. Gravel boat ramp near parking area.1
  3.  South of Flagstaff, I-17 Exit306 on paved road about 6 miles. Soon after left on FR213 & FR213A to lake.1

Juniper-Pinyon Woodland & Chaparral Boating Lakes

A transition zone between the higher elevations of Arizona, and the lower Sonoran Desert is mostly in the central part of the state. The elevation generally ranges from 4,000-6000 ft. Typical plants are overwhelmingly evergreen: scrub oak, manzanita, Mexican blue oak, alligator juniper, Mexican pinyon, etc.4 Let's look over some Arizona boating lakes in this zone.

  • Willow Lake - An Arizona boating lake North of Prescott. No swimming or boat rentals here. Fairly shallow, with lots of lake grasses. So scenic & peaceful! Only non-motorized or electric.1 Accessed from Willow Lake Park. From town, Hwy.89N, at roundabout take Willow Lake Rd. At its end, take right onto Willow Creek Rd. to right park entrance.
  • Dead Horse Ranch State Park Lakes - Cottonwood. Actually three lagoons sourced from adjacent Verde River are in the park. Park at the Los Alamos Day Use Area. Only oar-powered craft such as kayaks, canoes or boats are allowed on these lakes. Fishing is good, picnic tables/ramadas, parking at each lagoon. Reach them at the end of the park road. Cabin rentals & campground. 928-634-5283.

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