Scottsdale’s Scenic Waterways
Calling all river rats and lake lovers! When you’re in the mood to get your feet wet, head to one of the Scottsdale area’s many scenic waterways. From fishing, jet skiing and parasailing to river rafting, shore-side hiking and historic steamboat tours, you’ll enjoy hours of fun under the sun in a breathtaking Sonoran Desert setting.
The scenic Salt River, located about 30 miles east of Scottsdale, offers river runners two distinct personalities. For calm-water rafting, tubing, kayaking, canoeing and fishing, the serene Lower Salt River is your girl. As you float peacefully along, you’ll enjoy stunning views of towering cliffs, lush riparian areas and desert wildlife. Looking for more adventure? The wild-child Upper Salt River offers whitewater thrills on class III and IV rapids (seasonal) with such colorful names as “Maytag,” “Overboard” and “Mescal Falls.”
AAM’s Mild to Wild Rafting
800-567-6745 / www.mild2wildrafting.com
Arizona Outback Adventures
480-945-2881 / www.aoa-adventures.com
Arizona Outdoor Fun Rentals
602-400-2445 / www.arizonaoutdoorfun.com
719-395-2112 / www.inaraft.com
The southern portion of the Verde River, near its confluence with the Salt River, is another popular spot for rafting, kayaking, fishing and birding. The Verde’s peaceful waters and riparian surroundings make it an excellent spot to relax and enjoy the beauty of the Sonoran Desert.
Contact the rafting outfitters mentioned above or visit:
National Wild & Scenic Rivers
Saguaro Lake, created by the Stewart Mountain Dam, is located about 30 miles northeast of downtown Scottsdale. This gorgeous lake boasts more than 22 miles of shoreline and offers plenty of on-the-water-fun, including power boating, water skiing, sailing, jet skiing, kayaking and fishing. At the marina, you can rent a runabout, fishing or pontoon boat, or take a relaxing Desert Belle Paddleboat tour. The Lakeshore Restaurant offers tasty cuisine and panoramic views of the Goldfield Mountains, Bulldog Cliffs and Saguaro Lake.
Saguaro Lake Marina
480-986-5546 / www.saguarolakemarina.com
Located in the heart of the Tonto National Forest just 45 minutes north of downtown Scottsdale, this desert gem offers a full-service marina with pontoon and ski boat rentals, a general store, and dock-side grill (seasonal). Water skiing, jet skiing and fishing are all popular pastimes at Bartlett Lake. You’ll also enjoy beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and Sonoran Desert.
Bartlett Lake Marina
602-316-3378 / www.bartlettlake.com
A scenic one-hour drive northwest from downtown Scottsdale will take you to Lake Pleasant, one of the largest lakes in the Valley of the Sun. Lake Pleasant offers more than 50 miles of shoreline and 10,000 acres of clear blue water. This water enthusiast’s paradise is ideal for boating, house boating, sailing, water skiing, parasailing, jet skiing and fishing. Anglers will appreciate the 12 species of fish stocked in Lake Pleasant, including large-mouth, white and striped bass; bluegill, tilapia and crappie.
Lake Pleasant Regional Park
928-501-1710 / http://www.maricopa.gov/parks/lake_pleasant/
Canyon Lake, located an easy one-hour drive from downtown Scottsdale, offers spectacular views of colorful red-rock canyon walls and unusual rock formations. This lake lies in the Superstition Mountain Wilderness area and is the gateway to the Apache Trail, which leads to both Apache Lake and Roosevelt Lake. Recreational options include scenic hiking around the shore, as well as well as boating, water skiing, fishing, jet skiing. For a real treat, take the Dolly Steamboat cruise and listen as your captain narrates the legends and lore of the mysterious Superstition Mountains. Lunch, sunset and dinner cruises are available.
Canyon Lake Marina
480.288.9233 / www.canyonlakemarina.com
Just up the picturesque Apache Trail from Canyon Lake is Apache Lake. High canyon walls and deep mountain valleys accent one of the most beautiful landscapes in Arizona. There are several miles of dirt road leading to Apache Lake, but it is accessible to passenger cars. Though small, Apache Lake is a spectacular site for boating, fishing, water skiing and hiking. The marina offers pontoon and fishing boat rentals. The lake’s secluded coves and rocky canyon cliffs are home to javelina, big horn sheep, deer, and a host of other desert wildlife.
Apache Lake Marina
928- 467-2511 / www.apachelake.com
Head a little further up the Apache Trail and you’ll come to Roosevelt Lake. This 17-mile-long beauty is the largest lake in the Scottsdale area and was formed in 1911 with the construction of Roosevelt Dam on the Salt River. Roosevelt Lake is a favorite of avid anglers searching for the trophy largemouth bass along with smallmouth bass, channel catfish and crappie. Water-skiing, jet-skiing, swimming and general boating recreation makes Lake Roosevelt a favorite destination among locals and visitors alike. The lake offers full marina amenities, general store and restaurant.
Tonto National Forest / Tonto Basin Ranger District
928-467-2245 / www.rlmaz.com (Marina)