Outdoor and Active

Your Guide To Tempe Town Lake

Everything you need to know about outdoor recreation at Tempe Town Lake.

As one of Arizona’s most-visited attractions, Tempe Town Lake is the unmistakable epicenter of outdoor activities in the Valley of the Sun.

Since 1999, this man-made oasis has added a new dimension to the Sonoran Desert experience. This waterway also provides a stunning backdrop for views along the shoreline and is home to more than 5 miles of paths around the lake for skating, running, bicycling and walking. Located on the lake’s south shore, Tempe Beach Park has been a gathering place for families and community for more than a century.

Today, the park — which encompasses 25 acres of paths and trails, picnic areas, ramadas, art and scenery — plays host to many cultural celebrations, music festivals and signature events that fill the calendar each year. Spanning more than two miles in length, Tempe Town Lake is crossed by six different bridges. Most notably, the Historic Mill Avenue Bridge (built in 1931) and the New Mill Avenue Bridge (added in 1993) lead to and from the heart of downtown. To the west, you can’t miss the Elmore Pedestrian Bridge, situated in the foreground of the Phoenix skyline. This stunning suspension bridge is a photo-op hotspot, especially at sunset.

Whether you’re on a quest for endless recreation options, looking to soak up a scenic atmosphere that’s perfect for picnicking, people watching and photography, or planning to attend one of the many musical, seasonal or cultural events, we’ve complied everything you need to know before you visit.

Please note: Swimming at Tempe Town Lake is never permitted (rare exceptions include such special events as IRONMAN Arizona). Lake hours are 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, unless closed for such special events.


If it floats, you’ll probably see it on Tempe Town Lake. From the Arizona Dragon Boat Festival each spring to the Fantasy of Lights Boat Parade during the holidays, taking to the lake is a way of life in Tempe.

To get in on this action, visit the Boat Rentals of America kiosk located on the lake’s south side (near the Historic Mill Avenue Bridge), and choose a watercraft that suits your party size and adventure ambition — as well as the duration — and you’re set. Popular rental options include motorized donut boats (for up to 10 people), kayaks (single or double) and stand-up paddleboards (SUP), a swan or dragon pedal boats to their inventory. Find a complete list of boats and rental rates here.

With self-service available 24/7, Northshore Watersport Rentals is a recreational outfitter that provides kayaks (single or double) and stand-up paddleboards (SUP) for use on Tempe Town Lake, as well as river tubes and party boards that are perfect for other area rivers and lakes. Life jackets are provided and required for anyone ages 12 and under. The storefront is located at 555 N. College Ave., Unit 1030, Tempe, AZ 85288 (on the west side of the Vela Apartment complex).

Tempe Town Lake is a mecca of small boat sailing; however, there are no sailboat rentals available on the lake at this time. Private sailboat operation requirements include a mast height no more than 30 feet (from the surface of the water) and a boating permit, and launching must take place at the north shore marina. Additionally, the Arizona Yacht Club (AYC) and its subsidiary educational arm, the Arizona Sailing Foundation (ASF), offer various activities and instructional opportunities to nonmembers.

If you’re interested in getting more comfortable with your boating skills before venturing onto the lake, the City of Tempe has you covered. Check out the variety of classes offered around boat safety and boat handling. Search for “boating” in the activities search box to find upcoming classes.


Widely celebrated as as a bike-friendly city, Tempe is home to 217 miles of bike paths — which include routes around and near Tempe Town Lake. If you’re looking to explore on two wheels, there’s nowhere better to do it than this Gold-Level Bicycle-Friendly Community Award-winning destination.

For traditional bicycles, rentals are available at The Bicycle Cellar, located at 200 E. 5th St., Suite 105, Tempe, AZ 85281 (next to the Tempe Transportation Center). Additionally, Canopy by Hilton Tempe DowntownMoxy Phoenix Tempe and Graduate Tempe are among the  Tempe hotels that have bikes available to their guests.

Northshore Watersport Rentals and Boat Rentals of America also offer bicycles and surrey bikes (up to eight people) respectively. These options are ideal for those who want to paddle and pedal their way around the lake in the same visit.

Spikes and Spokes Mobile E-Bike Rentals offers customized Self-Guided Tours as well as group tours around Tempe Town Lake, Papago Park and beyond. This mobile service offers a variety of pick-up and drop-off options, but we recommend Hundred Mile Brewing Co. as the perfect start and finish line. Overnight and multi-day rentals are also available.

Tempe E-Bike Tours invites anyone ages 14 and up to explore Tempe Town Lake and Papago Park on a 10-mile, 1.45-hour tour that includes a guide, a history lesson and a hike. Private group rides are also available for up to 20 people.

You’ll also find electric scooters — also known as Shared Active Transportation Vehicle (SATV) — perched throughout Tempe, including Tempe Beach Park. As a brand guides, Bird scooters are black, Spin scooters are orange and Boaz Bikes (scooters) are blue. Just make sure you select a scooter with an adequate better charge, follow the prompt for payment by duration and you’re all set for takeoff. For additional information on renting a SATV, visit the City of Tempe’s website.


If you’re more of a land lover, you can still enjoy the lake from the shore. Grab your sneakers and go for a jog or walk along the 5-mile path around Tempe Town Lake.

The most popular starting point in Tempe Beach Park at at the corner of Mill Avenue and Rio Salado Parkway, accessible from any Downtown Tempe parking garage or the Tempe Beach Park parking lot on Rio Salado (near the train track bridge). Tempe Beach Park hours are from 5 a.m. to midnight daily. From here, head east to the Mill Avenue Bridge or west to the Elmore Pedestrian Bridge, on to the north shore and cross the back via the opposite bridge you started on to complete the loop.

Of course, you don’t have to stop there. The Rio Salado Canal Path, for one example, is a paved route that runs from south Phoenix to the west, past Tempe Town Lake and on to northwest Mesa to the east. Other path options here will take you past the north shore beach and marina, Marina Heights and the Watermark business district, past grassy shores and parkscapes and even on to Papago Park. Take a 360-degree tour of the paths around Tempe Town Lake.

Navigating on foot is the best way to explore the many public art installations along the lake. From the lights that line the Valley Metro Rail bridge to the “Words Over Water” tiles that line the lake’s south shore. Use the City of Tempe brochure to take a self-guided tour of Tempe Town Lake public art.


Fishing at Tempe Town Lake is another popular activity. Trout, bass, catfish and sunfish all call Tempe Town Lake home, but make sure you have the proper fishing license before dropping your line. Fishing licenses can be purchased at any Arizona Game and Fish office, most fishing supply stores or sporting goods stores. Trout are stocked every month from November to February, depending on water conditions. You will also find bass, catfish and sunfish stocked year-round.

Explore before you go: Visit Tempe Town Lake with a 360-virtual tour!


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