Although made famous for it’s desert landscapes, cactus plants and those red (dry!) rocks of the Wild West, Arizona has actually become a serious destination for boaters and water sports enthusiasts! Have you ever checked the weather forecast for a week in Arizona?! Sunshine for days, and days, and days … perfect boating conditions!
So whether you’re checking out the Grand Canyon, beautiful Lake Powell, a big city like Phoenix or Tucson, or one of Arizona’s popular tourist destinations like Sedona or Flagstaff, there’s a place and a water venue for everybody in Arizona! So get out there, hit the water and soak in some of that Arizona sunshine.
BEST BOATING LAKES
It depends which area of Arizona you’ll be visiting, but Arizona has over 30 lakes and several awesome rivers that are all popular choices for both boaters and paddlers.
Some of the most popular lakes in Arizona for boating include: Lake Powell, Lake Havasu and Apache Lake! Can’t decide where to launch your boat? Check out our helpful list of popular boating destinations below!
Lake Powell is located in northern Arizona and stretches up into southern Utah. It’s part of the Colorado River in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. With nearly 2,000 miles of shoreline, endless sunshine, warm water, perfect weather, and some of the most spectacular scenery in the west, Lake Powell is the ultimate playground. Rent a houseboat, stay at our campground, or enjoy our lodging and hop aboard a guided expedition.
Lake Havasu City is centrally located along 60 continuous miles (30.16 sq. miles) of lake and river waterways and uniquely stays as a fairly consistent water elevation all year round. Lake Havasu City sees around 300 days of sunshine each year which means you can take your boating vacation at any time of year with warm air and water temperatures.
Lake Havasu offers many boat rental companies or you can use one of the many launch ramps cascaded around the lake. There are also a plethora of marinas and fueling stations. Many hotels, RV parks and campgrounds have their own docks and ramps for guests.
Black Canyon extends from the Hoover Dam to Willow Beach and is a narrow river-like waterway. Before you go, get to know the rules and restrictions on certain watercraft at the various times of the year. Restrictions are put in place to ensure that the most authentic wilderness experience possible is provided for those who visit. In particular the Black Canyon section is managed as a primitive zone where on Sundays and Mondays year round on motorless watercrafts can be used, and personal watercrafts and vessels with motors are prohibited. Houseboating, water-skiing, and wakeboarding are also prohibited for safety reasons due to the narrow waterway.
The water from Willow Beach to Hoover Dam (Black Canyon) will be managed as a primitive zone where people can experience a variety of motor-less recreational opportunities in a natural setting. Personal watercrafts (PWCs) and vessels with motors are prohibited on Sunday and Monday year round.
Surrounded by the beautiful flora and fauna of Tonto National Forest and Three Bar Wilderness, Apache Lake is 17 miles long and provides days of great experiences. It offers an array of different coves, caves, and cliffs where visitors can explore, fish, and hike.
The lake is somewhat more secluded than other lakes that are closer to the cities which means that visitors to Apache Lake are keen to get away from the usual swimming and boating crowds. This means that the lake is generally quieter for those who wish to get away and enjoy some quiet exploration time.
The glassy lake is perfect for watersports including wakeboarding, wakesurfing, waterskiing and more.
There is plenty of wildlife to take in including big horned sheep who love to watch boaters from the cliffs, bald eagles flying up and down the lake, javelinas, gila monsters, and more. The lake itself is home to channel and flathead catfish, largemouth, smallmouth, striped, and yellow bass, bluegill, crappie, walleye, trout, and carp. Several fishing tournaments are held every year thanks to the wealth of fish.
The lake and surrounding area are so much more than a water lover’s paradise. In the cooler months, embark on hikes to explore the nearby caves, waterfalls, or to search for the elusive Lost Dutchman’s Goldmine.
Though known for its cowboy past, its Whiskey Row, and loads of colleges, Prescott is not always mentioned as a lake destination. Don’t be fooled though. Prescott has many lakes within 15 minutes of its downtown area for fishing, kayaking, hiking, and relaxation. The main three are Watson Lake, Goldwater Lake, and Lynx Lake. All of these lakes prohibit swimming but make up for it in recreation activities. Some include amenities such as campgrounds, kayak rental stores, horse shoe pits, extensive hiking trails, and grills for those family get-togethers.
Arizona’s State Parks offer outdoor enthusiasts shimmering lakes, steep canyons and spectacular views of a landscape painted red by the sun and dotted with cacti. It’s all pretty spectacular, no matter which park you visit.
Be sure to check out the 28 State Parks in Arizona while you’re visiting. Go boating, hiking, paddling, ATVing…whatever! The activity options in Arizona’s parks are limitless! Just remember: If you’ll be visiting one of the 5 U.S. Forests in Arizona, check out a Travel Management Map to show you which trails are open and which are closed. Know before you go! Some of our favorite parks include: Grand Canyon National Parkand Glen Canyon National Park where you’ll find Lake Powell!
Arizona has some awesome fishing opportunities!
Choose your Fishing Destination by using the interactive map offered by the Arizona Game and Fish Department! They make it easy for you to find your fish by providing region-specific information about Arizona’s waterways and about the fish species in those areas.
Before casting a line, learn up on Arizona’s state fishing regulations, fishing license requirements, boating license requirements and boating restrictions. Be sure to check out the local fishing reports that are available for your waterway. Visit the Arizona Game and Fish Department website for more information.