Outdoor and Active

Arizona’s most iconic lakes are right in Tempe’s backyard!

There is nothing that captivates me more than a majestic sunset reflecting off the water of one of the many lakes Arizona has to offer. It just so happens that Tempe has some of the most iconic lakes right in its backyard! Check out these lakes that are in close proximity to Tempe.

Located between Rio Salado and Loop 202 Highway lies Tempe’s very own “desert oasis”, Tempe Town Lake. Known for hosting everything from 5K community walks to large-scale triathlons, concerts and festivals, Tempe Town Lake is a hub for activities all year round. You can also go boating, rowing, or fishing on the 2-mile wide lake or hit the pavement and take a walk or a jog along the 5-mile path surrounding the lake. Check out our blog for more fun things to do at Tempe Town Lake.

Kiwanis Lake is nestled in the middle of Kiwanis Park on Mill Avenue just south of Baseline Road. Boat Rentals of America has a location here where you can rent single or double kayaks, pedal boats or bikes at the north end of the lake on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. If you would rather stay dry on land, while still taking in the surroundings, you can use one of the many lakeside ramadas that make for an ideal setting for small gatherings.

Saguaro Lake sits at the heart of the Tonto National Forest, roughly 45 minutes from Tempe, making it the closest lake outside of the Tempe area. As you may guess from the name, Saguaro Lake is surrounded by canyon walls that are studded with saguaro cacti. Saguaro Lake encourages patrons to take part in the Sonoran Desert through their various touring expeditions like Desert Belle Cruises, which offers 90 minute cruises year-round and also offers a half-day land and lake excursion through their partnership with Stellar Adventures. Make sure and keep your eye peeled for wild horses and bighorn sheep as they tend to roam around at this location!

Experience three of Arizona’s notorious lakes all in one outing by driving the Apache Trail. Stretching 40 miles along route 88, the Apache Trail connects Canyon, Apache and Roosevelt Lakes. Along the Trail, there are multiple points of interest such as Goldfield Ghost Town, Lost Dutchman State Park and Tortilla Flat. Check out one of our recent day trip videos featuring the Apache Trail here.

Canyon Lake is the first stop off the Apache Trail and measures 950 acres. Explore more than 28 miles of shoreline, rock formations and private beach coves. Although it is the smallest of the four lakes dammed by the Salt River, Canyon Lake has an abundance of picture ready scenery. Canyon Lake is also home to the Dolly Steamboat tour where they offer several excursions.

Apache Lake is 16 miles past Tortilla Flat. Apache Lake is the only lake along the Apache Trail that offers motel rooms and shaded campgrounds with full hook ups for RVs. The lake itself is 2,568 acres, which creates an untouched and an uncrowded atmosphere perfect for thrill seekers looking to take advantage of perfect glass like water.

Located 4 miles upstream from Apache lies one of the most iconic lakes in Arizona history, Theodore Roosevelt Lake. Roosevelt Lake is the third largest lake located in Arizona next to Lake Powell and Lake Mead, however, it is the largest located entirely in Arizona. This lake is poplar for water-skiing, jet-skiing, swimming and general boating recreation.

Bartlett Lake, formed by the Verde River, is located just 55 minutes from Tempe Town Lake. Sitting at a surface area of 2,815 acres, Bartlett has more acres than Saguaro and Canyon Lake combined! Enjoy shoreline camping, recreational opportunities and beautiful surroundings that make for an unforgettable Arizona day on the water. A plus to this location is that it has newly paved roads making for a smooth and easy drive!

If you have a need for speed, than Lake Pleasant is the place for you! With room to move, power boats are among the norm at this location. Lake Pleasant is big on scuba diving, water skiing, jet skiing, windsurfing and other water sports. Covering over 10,000 acres, it is the largest lake in the Phoenix and Scottsdale area.

Alicia Kentz
Written Alicia Kentz

Alicia is an ASU Alumna and Tucson native who is unapologetically herself. When she is not sharing her passion for Tempe, she is a devoted dog mom and reality TV enthusiast who has a weakness for charcuterie boards and wine!