Largest Lake in Arizona

What? Where? When? How?

The largest lake in Arizona can be viewed in a few ways. But the absolute is to think inside the borders of Arizona. Which lake has the most surface area? Here it is:

Theodore Roosevelt Lake Arizona

The largest lake in Arizona is Theodore Roosevelt Lake, with up to 21,500 acres.2 It's so big that even on days when many people come for its enjoyment, they're not necessarily crowded in. There's something for everyone here, no matter what type of lake activity you love. Yes, you'll find it here!1

map of Roosevelt Lake in ArizonaAccessed from Phoenix Metro Area: Rt. 87N, turning right at 188S

From Tucson, it's easiest to go through Oro Valley & Oracle on 77N. Taking 70 towards Globe, then heading North on 188.

When dam construction finished in 1911 there was no larger masonry erection anywhere. Later they updated with concrete refurbishment. Originally purposed for water channeling and power sourcing. Later on they realized its recreational potentials. It was dedicated by President Teddy Roosevelt himself.3

Elevation at Roosevelt Lake is just over 2100 feet, the climate is that of Sonoran Desert. Its elevation is slightly lower than Tucson, but about 1000' higher than Phoenix. Elevation makes a difference in temperatures in Arizona. Why not get out of the Phoenix city environment? Come here to Roosevelt Lake with a higher elevation (not to mention avoiding heat of city paving/buildings), often temps will be about 5 degrees cooler. Coming from Tucson, the temperature will be similar at our state's largest lake's surroundings. Summertime temperatures there are typically are around 100o+ (Fahrenheit) beginning in May/June.

Portrait of President Theodore Roosevelt with his glasses on, in an off-white sports jacket, vest and bow tieTheodore Roosevelt
Affectionately Called "Teddy"


Roosevelt Lake Camping

Camping is allowed all around Roosevelt Lake. Depending on where you are around the lake, and your method of camping you may be required to have a Tonto Pass, Discovery Pass, or even something else? Maybe not anything! Confusing, yes? 

Best to call them with your specifics. We always rely on our America the Beautiful Senior Lifetime Pass, which so far has done us well. But we haven't been to every site here. (We're working on it!)

Popular areas are:

  • Bachelor Cove - About midway along the lake. Off Hwy. 188, 4 miles West of the dam. Camp anywhere along the shoreline, but closed during high water. Here's where you can check Roosevelt Lake Water Levels
  • Cholla Bay Shoreline - 5 Miles north of the dam off Hwy. 188. Camp where you want along the shoreline. Call first to see if open: 602-225-5395
  1. Cholla Bay Campground - 1 mile further north for Multiple Sites in loops at lakeside. Some sites can be reserved.
  • Schoolhouse CG - Reserved spots available. Farther off the highway than the others. 11 miles south of the dam on 188. Make left at FR447/Schoolhouse Recreation Site, then 4 miles more. Sites with ramadas, fire ring/grills, picnic tables. Drinking water access. (More below.)
  • Windy Hill CG - Developed Campsites normally open year-round, some reservable. Showers on-site. 6 miles south from dam on 188, turn left at FR82, travel 2 miles more.

Roosevelt Lake RV Camping

Some areas are more suited for RV camping, since they have designated, stable, level sites, and have some conveniences available. Here are sites recommended for Roosevelt Lake RV camping (additional details mentioned above, too):

  • Cholla Campground - Allows reservations for odd numbered sites Nov.-April. RV 32' max size. Tenting only sites are here, off Cane Cholla Loop, which also has 27 RV sites. Also tenting off Christmas Cholla Loop, with 28 RV sites. Then between Jumping Cholla, Staghorn Cholla, Teddy Bear Cholla & Buckhorn Cholla Loops choose from 132 Roosevelt Lake RV campsites.
  • Schoolhouse Campground - Amphitheater located at this accessible camping spot. RV camping closes if lake level becomes less than 2100 ft. Otherwise open all year.  Reservations from Nov.-April: 877-444-6777.
  • Windy Hill Campground - 347 sites with ramadas, fire ring/grills & picnic tables. Drinking water access. Good one if you have kids, since playgrounds are here. Odd site numbers can be reserved.

Roosevelt Lake Marina

Roosevelt lake is suitable for every type of water craft. There are no limits on the types you can operate.

The marina on Roosevelt Lake operates with a permit from Tonto National Forest. They offer many services and amenities. Like what?

  • Roosevelt Lake Boat Rentals - Pontoon boats (2 sizes), 250hp Outboard Power-boat, & single/double kayaks. 
  1. Or how about this add-on! Water Toy Package: wakeboards, kneeboards, water skis & tubes.
  • Boat Dockage - Have your own boat? Dock in your own lake-slip (covered/uncovered), or dry store it here.
  1. Just visiting - you can short-term rent also.
  • On-Site Conveniences:
  1. Store for general necessities, souvenirs, snacks, etc.
  2. Marina bar & restaurant
  • RV Campground - With full hookups available, concrete pad, tree. (No passes honored here.)
  • Member Program - Gets you special areas, events & privileges.
  1. Nonmembers -  $6 per vehicle/day. Plus trailers: $4/day.
  • For more information: 602-977-7170 OR

Roosevelt Lake Fishing

Arizona's largest lake is pretty renowned for its fishing! The lake level is known to change on a regular basis, particularly dropping when spring is turning into summertime. This is truly a helpful situation here. Now you'll see areas that were submerged, but come to light as wonderful fish habitats.3 Just one of the reasons so many think it's maybe The Best Arizona lake. Go for it!

Well-known for large mouth bass (some past records set here) and crappie fishing. Especially in March & April. Then again in November. During that time, try for crappie schooling close to Schoolhouse Point. (Seems logical!) Or coves adjacent to Windy Hill.3

Other frequent catches are small-mouth bass, channel & flathead catfish. You'll certainly catch plenty of bluegill, plus other sunfish. If you care to get them for the action, carp are here, too. You might even hook a rainbow trout! It's happened.3,4

Roosevelt Lake Resort

Resorts of a sort are available on the largest lake in Arizona: Roosevelt Lake. Now don't expect the high-end hoity-toity type you'd find in Vegas, etc. But for the area, these offer nice settings, for sure.

  • Roosevelt Resort Park - Bar & restaurant on-site. Called a resort also for the variety of stay options they offer:
  1. Roosevelt Lake Cabins - Like your home away from home. Everything you need. From 1 bedroom to sleeping up to 8. Dog friendly or no pets. Weekly discount. Staying Long? Monthly-basis mobile home rentals available.
  2. Roosevelt Lake Hotel Rooms - Two Queen beds, some pet-friendly. Coffee, fridge, microwave in each room. Great rates!
  3. RV Sites - Monthly basis.
  4. DIRECTIONS: Turn off Hwy.188 at Stagecoach Trail, number 358.
  • Remember The Marina does have an RV park as well. For details on a stay: 602-977-7170

Sign advertising an Inn and RV resort
  • Spring Creek Inn and RV Resort5 - Several choices available for staying here near Arizona's largest lake. Their resort-style clubhouse has a kitchen with tables/chairs, restrooms. Fun activities: pool table, TV, Wi-Fi, activity board, fireplace. Patio has BBQ pit. Most people here are yearly residents. Visitors love the neatness, safety, sheltered calm area, natural setting, while nearby Roosevelt Lake's recreation (3-5 miles away). For visitors they have these options:
  1. Three RV spaces always available for short-term rental. Inquire if others may open up.
  2. Motel Rooms - Two Standard available
  3. Kitchenette Motel Rooms - four available
  4. Park Model cabin rental has Queen Hide-a-bed

Even More on the Largest Lake in Arizona

Other Uses!

What do you think was the Roosevelt Lake water temperature when this photo was taken?

The Air Force even uses the largest lake in Arizona for training. Becoming a member of this squadron, and indeed a leader therein, takes much experience over years. Real life knowledge building up in their careers, with furthering education, and assignments.6

Other Largest Lake Thinking

When thinking of the largest lakes in Arizona, some immediately think of Lake Meade. But as we see, when analyzing that, it's not inside Arizona's borders. It also belongs to Nevada & Utah. It is a fairly popular lake for Arizonans, but Roosevelt Lake is probably more popular.

Lake Havasu, in a similar vein, is quite large at 19,300 surface acres. But it's also shared with California. And from either side is very popular with lake lovers! It's made also from damming waters of the Colorado River. Many Lakes and Rivers in Arizona, and in fact throughout the southwest are associated that way. There are both good points, and drawback to that.

Another lake some may think about is called Big Lake. It's in the high country of Arizona, the White Mountains. How big is it? With 575 surface acres,1 it doesn't come close to matching Roosevelt. Though for the area, it's kind-of big!

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