Arizona can be found in the southwest region of the United States, and if you have never visited before, you are in for a real treat! It is full of wonderful things and it has a unique landscape that you won’t find anywhere else.
Along with plenty of national parks, Arizona is also home to many wonderful lakes that you can explore.
If you thought Arizona was all desserts and mountains, then it might surprise you to learn that there are plenty of really green places in the state that are accessible to the public too.
If you want to check out the lakes in Arizona, then you have come to the right place! We have put together a list of 15 of the best lakes in Arizona that you NEED to visit (Looking for more? Check out our favorite beaches in Arizona right here) (looking to find some waterfalls? Check out our guide to Arizona Waterfalls here).
So read on to find out a bit more about each of them and see which one attracts you the most!
1. Goldwater Lake
You can find Goldwater Lake south of Prescott and it was formed by the damming on Bannon Creek. The whole lake is maintained by the City of Prescott Parks and Recreation.
Though you are not allowed to swim in Goldwater Lake, there are still plenty of other things you can do here. It is a prime location for fishing, and one of the best places in the state to fish Rainbow Trout.
You can easily spend hours here just fishing all day.
Other activities you can do on the lake include kayaking and canoeing, so if you really want to get out onto the water, you can!
There are also plenty of picnic tables, grills, volleyball courts, and horseshoe pits around the lake, as well as a children’s playground to take your kids to.
2. Lake Mary
Lake Mary actually consists of two lakes and they can both be found in Flagstaff in northern Arizona. Both of these lakes are maintained by Coconino National Forest.
They get their name from Mary Riordan, who was the daughter of a very wealthy lumber baron. He built both of the lakes in 1905.
Upper Lake Mary is an incredibly long and narrow kind of lake that is absolutely full of different kinds of fish.
Some of the fish you will find in these lakes include sunfish, rainbow trout, and channel catfish, and sometimes you will also find northern pike in the waters too.
Lower Lake Mary is the smaller lake of the two, and it is very common for it to dry up in the hotter months.
The whole area in and around Lake Mary is absolutely full of wildlife, and you can see plenty of animals here when you visit. Some of the animals you can find here include elk, deer, bald eagles, and green-blue herons.
3. Willow Springs Lake
You will find Willow Springs Lake about 37 kilometers east of the city of Payson, on top of the Mogollon Rim.
It is a part of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest and it is surrounded by canyons which really makes it an incredible place to see for yourself.
Willow Springs Lake was actually created by the Arizona Game and Fish Department in 1967 in order to provide recreational activities to locals and visitors in the surrounding areas.
Like most other lakes in Arizona, fishing is an incredibly popular activity here and you can catch lots of wonderful fish here, some of which include trout, bass, and sunfish.
You can even spend the night at Willow Springs Lake, with over 26 campsites scattered all over the lake for you to choose from.
There are also plenty of other facilities located on the lake, some of which include picnic shelters, public toilets, and boat ramps.
4. Big Lake
You will find Big Lake in the White Mountains, and it is one of the best places to go fishing in all of Arizona. Because the average depth of the lake is about 9 meters, this makes it one of the best places to fish specifically for trout.
If you do plan on visiting specifically for fishing, the best time of year to visit is between the months of April and May.
You can spend a few days at Big Lake as well, with over 200 camping sites for you to choose from.
You will also find picnic tables, showers, and restrooms around the lake as well, so you will have everything you need to make your stay there more enjoyable and pleasant.
The lake is also home to two boat ramps, so boating is available here, but all motors are restricted to 10hp, so just be mindful of that if you do plan on bringing your boat!
Surrounding the lake are the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests, so you will be surrounded by beautiful scenery made up of green forests and mountains.
5. Blue Ridge Reservoir
The Blue Ridge Reservoir is another lake that can be found in the Mogollon Rim area and it is protected and maintained by the Coconino National Forest.
If you are looking for a picturesque lake and area, Blue Ridge Reservoir will not disappoint!
The reservoir covers about 28 hectares and it can be found 2,000 meters above sea level. It is quite a remote location, but it’s worth the trip because it isn’t as crowded or as well-known as some of the other lakes on this list.
This is another fantastic spot to go to if you want to fish in peace and take in the beautiful scenery all around you.
6. Alamo Lake
This lake can be found within the borders of Alamo Lake State Park and it was formed by the Alamo Dam in 1968.
Originally used for flood control purposes, Alamo Lake is now a recreational area and it is especially popular amongst fishing enthusiasts.
You can find so many different types of fish in the lake, some of which include crappie, largemouth bass, channel catfish, sunfish, and tilapia.
It is also a hot spot for fishing tournaments, so even if you aren’t a fan of fishing, you will be able to see skilled anglers in action when you visit.
Alamo Lake is also a wonderful place for camping and hiking. There are plenty of trails for you to explore and lots of cabins for you to rent if you want a bit more comfort.
Some other activities you can enjoy on the lake include swimming, boating, biking, and picnicking.
7. Lynx Lake
Found within the borders of Prescott National Forest, Lynx Lake is another picturesque location in Arizona.
It is surrounded by lush green foliage and trees and it is relatively remote, so it’s quite a quiet, relaxing place.
If you are looking for a beautiful lake in Arizona that offers lots of wonderful activities, then Lynx Lake might be just what you are looking for.
Some of the activities you can take part in here include boating, fishing, hiking, and camping, and it is a great place to go and spot wildlife.
Some of the animals you will find here include mule deer, bald eagles, bullfrogs, geese, and osprey.
Lynx Lake is the perfect place to visit in Arizona when you want to cool off and escape from the desert heat! (for our favorite Arizona theme parks, check out our guide here)
8. Bartlett Lake
Bartlett Lake is actually a reservoir and it is best known for its sport fishing.
You will find a plethora of different fish at this lake, some of which include smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, sunfish, crappie, crayfish, and flathead catfish.
Covering over 815 hectares, Bartlett Lake is quite a large lake and it has plenty of room to accommodate many visitors at a time.
Some of the activities you can take part in aside from fishing here include swimming, water skiing, sailing, picnicking, and barbecuing.
Bartlett Lake can be found in Tonto National Forest, about 77 km from Phoenix.
9. Woods Canyon Lake
Woods Canyon Lake is another lake that can be found in the Mogollon Rim area, and it is actually quite a small lake. Though it is small, it is actually incredibly deep, with an average depth of 7.6 meters.
You can take part in plenty of recreational activities at the lake, some of which include fishing, hiking, and biking. This is a great location to visit when you just want to relax and unwind.
The lake is open throughout the entire year, so you can visit whenever you like. But it should be noted that access is a lot more restricted during the winter months.
10. Saguaro Lake
Saguaro Lake is actually one of the lakes located on the Salt River and it can be found in Tonto National Forest in Maricopa County, Arizona.
This is another fantastic spot for fishing enthusiasts and you will find plenty of fish here, some of which include rainbow trout, largemouth bass, yellow bass, crappie, channel catfish, and tilapia.
There are also plenty of other things to do, including watersports and you can also check out the marina that houses a restaurant, boat ramps, restrooms, and picnic tables.
11. Apache Lake
Also found in Tonto National Forest. Apache Lake is an extremely popular destination for recreational activities and most of those activities can be accessed at the lake’s marina.
Of course, fishing is one of the most popular activities to do here, and you can catch all sorts of fish here, some of which include largemouth bass, crappie, channel catfish, walleye, and sunfish.
If you would rather do something else, you will also find 3 motels, an RV park, and a restaurant on the lake, and there are plenty of hiking trails for you to explore.
12. Canyon Lake
Canyon Lake covers over 380 hectares, and it is actually the smallest lake along the Salt River. It can be found within the borders of the Superstition Mountains.
This is the perfect place to go if you want to take part in hiking, camping, and boating.
It is also a popular fishing spot, and some of the fish you can catch here include rainbow trout, largemouth bass, yellow bass, carp, and walleye.
Canyon Lake is incredibly scenic and picturesque, making it perfect to visit when you want to relax and unwind.
13. Lake Pleasant Regional Park
Lake Pleasant Regional Park is one of the most popular lakes and areas to visit when you want to take part in outdoor recreational activities.
Boating and fishing are the most popular activities you can do here, but you will also find a shop and restaurant in the area, as well as hiking trails.
Some of the fish you can catch here include white bass, crappie, sunfish, tilapia, and more! The entire park is incredibly scenic and makes for the perfect day out.
14. Theodore Roosevelt Lake
Theodore Roosevelt Lake is a large reservoir that can be found in central Arizona.
If you love to hike, make sure that you visit the Arizona National Scenic Trail, which can be found around the lake. It offers incredible views and is perfect for anyone who loves to hike in nature.
It is also an incredible place to fish, and you can catch many different species here, some of which include carp, crappie, sunfish, smallmouth bass, and channel catfish.
15. Rose Canyon Lake
Rose Canyon Lake is an incredibly popular recreational space for camping. The scenic and picturesque views of the surrounding forests and Santa Catalina Mountains are too good to miss and will immerse you in nature.
You will find plenty of hiking trails, campfire pits, picnic areas, and parking spaces in the area, so all you have to do is enjoy yourself without worrying about anything else!
This is the perfect place for anyone who loves the great outdoors to visit.
So there you have it! 15 of the best lakes in Arizona you NEED to visit. There is something for everyone on this list, and each of these lakes has something different and wonderful to offer.
When you next visit Arizona, make sure to check out these lakes for yourself!
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