8 Most Beautiful Lakes In Arizona

Although known to be one of the aridest states, Arizona is surprisingly home to some of the most beautiful and unique lakes in the entirety of the United States. These lakes may be naturally occurring formations or human-made, but each has something unique to offer. So, whether you are an Arizona resident or an adventurous tourist, make sure to take some time out of your schedule to investigate these lakes for yourself. They might surprise you. In every desert is an oasis. 

Lake Havasu

Havasu Lake
Hot air balloons over the London Bridge at Lake Havasu, Arizona.

Sharing its name with the town where it is located, Lake Havasu is a hotspot for weekend getaways and beach bums around Arizona. It is a massive reservoir formed by the Parker Dam on the Colorado River. Lake Havasu is famous for its excellent beach. Soft, white sand lines the shore and is a great place to kick back and relax. 

Sunbathing, picnics, swimming, and beach volleyball are all common activities here. The water in the lake gets incredibly warm during the summer months, hovering at around 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Boats here are free to do as they please. There is no enforced speed limit by any of the local authorities. Feel free to put the pedal to the metal once you are out in open water. 

Lake Mead

Lake Mead
Powerboat cruising on Lake

Probably the most well-known lake in all of Arizona, Lake Mead is unfathomably vast and, at times, remote. The construction of the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River formed it. It straddles the border of Arizona and Nevada and is accessible from both states. It is the country's largest lake by water capacity. Due to its sheer size, it is recommended that visitors bring some kind of watercraft, whether it is a high-performance speed boat or just a humble kayak, to best experience the lake's bounties.

The Nevada side of the lake is usually frequented by tourists traveling directly from Las Vegas. On the Arizona side, most people access Lake Mead via Highway 93 or by navigating through the Colorado River. Scuba diving is popular at Lake Mead. Many divers go out of their way to search for the wreck of a B-52 bomber that sits at the bottom of the lake. 

Lake Pleasant 

Aerial view of Castle Creek at Lake Pleasant.
Aerial view of Castle Creek at Lake Pleasant.

A short drive from Phoenix, Lake Pleasant is located in the regional park that bears the same name. It was created by the construction of the Carl Pleasant Dam on the Colorado River. Due to its proximity to Pheonix, this lake has long served as the perfect weekend getaway for the city's residents. 

The park itself is massive and has plenty of activities to enjoy that go far beyond your typical lake experience. The nearby hills are filled with many different trails, all leading to various outlook points to soak in the sun and the beautiful view of the lake. Campgrounds can also be found along the shoreline of Lake Pleasant. If you want to spend the night here, there are campgrounds that are accommodating to both tents are RVs. 

Theodore Roosevelt Lake

Theodore roosevelt lake
Wildflowers growing on the shores of the Theodore Roosevelt Lake.

Getting its name from the famed president and passionate conservationist Theodore Roosevelt, the lake does a fantastic job of carrying on the legacy of the 26th president of the United States. This lake is a fair distance from any major population center, and parts of the lake are quite hard to reach without a boat. It was formed as a result of the construction of the Theodore Roosevelt Dam on the Salt River.

Road access to the northern side of the lake is limited as well. This can be either frustrating for those who lack the means to get there or a great place to be alone in the great outdoors if you are daring enough to make the journey. Campsites and marinas dot the shoreline. The area is welcoming to those who are willing to make the long drive out to the lake. 

Watson Lake

Sunset above Watson Lake in the Granite Dells of Prescott, Arizona
Sunset above Watson Lake in the Granite Dells of Prescott, Arizona.

Located in the small town of Prescott, Watson Lake is home to some of the most interesting and unique geographies in the region. Khaki stone spires and other abstract rock formations line the shores of the lake, making the area look like it belongs on the set of a science fiction movie. The contrast of the lake's clear blue water makes this scenery even more impressive. 

Watson Lake is relatively small and has little in the way of a beach, but that does not mean it is not worth the trip. Embrace your inner lizard and try sunbathing on one of the many rocks and boulders nearby. Swimming is, however, strictly off-limits as Watson Lake is the direct source of drinking water for the town. 

Lynx Lake

Lynx Lake, arizona
A fishing pier at Lynx Lake, Arizona.

Another watering hole that is not too far from Prescott is Lynx Lake. A far cry from the nearby Watson Lake, Lynx Lake is surrounded by thick forests and a terrain few would associate with a state like Arizona. 

The lake is a great place to go kayaking and fishing with friends. The lake is relatively small, and there is no reason that even a novice kayaker could make a day out a lap around the lake. Swimming is not allowed here either. But there are plenty of other things to do here besides frolicking in the water. There is a great trail that circles around the entire lake. A fantastic activity if you are not in the mood to get wet. 

Apache Lake 

Apache Lake
The rocky desert landscape surrounding the Apache Lake.

Apache Lake can be found within the mysterious-sounding Superstition Wilderness Area. Do not let this foreboding name dissuade you from enjoying one of Arizona's most untouched, pristine lakes. The lake is somewhat remote and does not have all the accommodations that might be expected at more popular lakes. There are a handful of marinas and campsites, but aside from that, much of the lake is left alone. 

Steep cliffs and other jagged rock faces dominate the shoreline of Apache Lake. This has made Apache Lake an obvious spot for cliff jumping and diving. It is also a great spot to explore via a motorboat. If you go far enough, you could easily find yourself being the only person for miles around. 

Bartlett Lake

Tranquil autumn landscape at Bartlett Lake boat launching ramp in Tonto National Forest in Arizona
Tranquil autumn landscape at Bartlett Lake boat launching ramp in Tonto National Forest in Arizona.

Known as an angler's paradise, Bartlett Lake, created by the damming of the Verde River, is the best place to go if you are looking to spend the day on the lake, relax, and catch some fish. Bartlett Lake is best known for its stunning abundance of catfish and largemouth bass. The catfish here are exceptionally large too. Some people have reported catching catfish as big as 76 lbs and 53 inches long, which is roughly the weight of a large dog. 

If fishing is not your forte, then the surrounding environment is a great place to explore. Much more "typical" Arizona landscape, the area around the lake is filled with sand, geckos, and desert vegetation. 

Whether you are a lifelong resident or just a tourist looking to kill an afternoon, make sure to stop by one of these lakes for a truly unique experience. There is nothing quite like going for a dip to cool off from the desert heat. There is something for everyone to enjoy and take part in these beautiful Arizona lakes. Just make sure you bring plenty of water and sunscreen.