Summer in Arizona requires a plan for outdoor enthusiasts and locals know an escape to a watery oasis can be a perfect summertime getaway. Phoenix has several lakes just a short drive away and they all provide something fun for those seeking to relax and enjoy a different side of the desert. Leave the ordinary pool raft at home and rent a kayak or pontoon boat for a day on the water, fish, or just play on the beach.
The lower Salt River, famous for the wandering herds of wild mustangs, is just east of Scottsdale. Roaming the wilderness of the Salt River and surrounding Tonto National Forest, these magnificent animals are social media stars with their own Facebook page. Salt River is ideal for calm-water rafting, kayaking and tubing as you float along towering sandstone cliffs. Local outfitters 360 Adventures and Arizona Outback Adventures offer kayaking and paddle boarding tours of the Lower Salt River. These guided tours typically last a half a day, and late spring and summer are the best times to spot wild horses.
In the northwest Valley about 45 minutes from downtown Phoenix, the 10,000-acre Lake Pleasant is a favorite with boaters, jet skiers, and fishermen. Lake Pleasant Regional Park also offers camping and trails for mountain biking and hiking.
Located 40 miles east of Phoenix, in the scenic Tonto National Forest and surrounded by canyon walls, Saguaro Lake is a great spot for spending a day on the boat. Guided tours of the lake are also available on the Desert Belle paddle boat.
Just 50 miles east of Phoenix in the Superstition Wilderness of Tonto National Forest, Canyon Lake is a great place for a variety of watersports, in addition to camping and hiking. Boat rentals are available and the lake has a popular day-use campground with a large grass area, shady ramadas and a swimming-only section of the lake. The day-use area fills up fast, so reservations are recommended.
Apache Lake is another of the series of lakes located in the Tonto National Forest and is known for its boating, trout fishing and the scenic canyon walls that surround parts of the lake. Boat rentals are available as well as beautiful lake-side lodging.
Roosevelt Lake is about 80 miles northeast of Phoenix and is the largest of the lakes just outside the Greater Phoenix region with over 110 miles of shoreline and several peaceful coves for those wishing to escape to a quiet oasis.
Bartlett Lake is just 45 miles from downtown Phoenix and is the second-largest lake in the Tonto National Forest. If you don’t have your own boat or are looking for a different lake experience, Bartlett Lake offers aqua lodge rentals and a party yacht for that memorable summer weekend.