Water Recreation in Arizona – A Short Drive From Desert Mountain

By Davis Driver,

Barlett Lake

When many people think about Southern Arizona, water recreation may not be the first thing that comes to mind. I would think most thoughts would be about dry deserts, sunshine, warm temperatures and golf…which are all good. However, in pretty much every area of this beautiful state there is a lake or, even better,…a lake within close proximity! In fact, there are seven major recreation lakes within an hour or two of the Phoenix/Scottsdale metro area.

Bartlett Lake is the closest one to Desert Mountain, about half an hour away. At 2,800 acres when full, it is a nice sized lake, plenty big enough for water skiing or running around on a jet ski.   It is in a spectacular, rough, wilderness setting with gorgeous mountain views. The next most obvious choice for someone living in north Scottsdale would be Lake Pleasant. It is about 10,000 acres, takes about forty minutes to get to from Desert Mountain, and is a major recreational resource for the area. I took my open water SCUBA diving course test there. Didn’t remind me of the Caribbean, but it was okay. If you go, keep an eye out for wild burros. Their population around the lake has flourished with the abundant vegetation and water sources. Both of these lakes offer marinas, boating, fishing, camping, and more, all of which can be enjoyed just about twelve months a year here. There is a rumor floating around that there are more boats registered per capita in Maricopa County than any other county in the country. I haven’t tried to verify that, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find that it is true.

For all of the fishermen out there, these local lakes have a lot to offer! Bartlett has Catfish, Bass, Crappie and Panfish that will make a great day out on the lake and a great meal later in the evening. Lake Pleasant is a popular Largemouth Bass fishing destination that also offers Striped Bass and the state’s only White Bass population along with Catfish, Bluegill, two species of Sunfish, Crappie, Tilapia, Bigmouth Buffalo fish, and Carp. These two lakes will keep you busy! If you want to do some Gold Medal catch and release trout fly-fishing, you can have a great time at Lee’s Ferry, just below Glen Canyon Dam, outside of Page, AZ and about a four hour drive from Phoenix.

Saguaro, Canyon, and Apache Lakes, and Roosevelt Reservoir, lie east of Phoenix in spectacular desert wilderness areas, all within about an hour to two hours. The drive is worth the time and an easy day trip that will reward you with fun in the sun and on the lake.

This post wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Lake Powell, the 2nd largest man-made lake in America with nearly 2,000 miles of shoreline. Only four hours north of Phoenix, it is certifiably one of the most beautiful vacation destinations in America. I have taken my family there on numerous occasions, camping out off of a ski boat and renting a big houseboat. This lake is massive and when full has over 90 side canyons to explore and is 186 miles long. It is an astonishingly wonderful experience.

So, in addition to sunshine, warm temperatures and golf…take a moment to add water recreation on the list of fun things to do in Arizona.


Davis and Ann Driver

Desert Mountain Real Estate Specialists