Best Places For Kayaking In Arizona – Rivers, Lakes, and more

Arizona is famous for its desert weather, but there are tons of great places for kayaking. Arizona is blessed with both permanent and seasonal rivers from molten snow and rainfall. These rivers offer a good scenic view against the sunny background most times of the year. Arizona has plenty of freshwater lakes for kayaking lovers. Many rivers are dammed, and the results are enormous freshwater lakes and reservoirs that can be accessed for kayaking all year round. Also, don’t forget that Arizona is the home of the Grand Canyons.

These are the 10 best spots for kayaking when you visit Arizona.

A picture of trees and water of Blue Ridge Reservoir

1. Blue Ridge Reservoir.

These waters offer peace and tranquility. There are no motorized vehicles allowed in this lake, leaving you with plenty of space for kayaking. Blue Ridge reservoir is placed 6700 feet above ground offering all its visitors scenic views of the mountains and surrounding forest. The ridge borders the large canyon walls at the Mogollon Rim. Here you are promised good weather for kayaking and very nice backgrounds suitable for taking photos and enjoying the beauty of nature. This is undoubtedly one of the best places to kayak in Arizona.

great view of the amazing lone rock canyon

2. Lone Rock Canyon

If you are looking for an unforgettable place, then this one should come out on top across the entire country. Besides getting stunned by the natural views every time you turn your head, you can choose to join the thrill seekers in cliff diving. The big walls of the canyon have different spots for cliff diving if you are looking for an unforgettable experience. But for kayaking lovers, the waters are calm and the view stunning. This is a good place for you especially if you are new to kayaking.

scenic view of lake pleasant

3. Lake Pleasant

If you are new to Arizona, you should allow the beauty of this state to sink into you. You should definitely try getting a tour guide to show you the best spots of the 11.5-mile Lake Pleasant. You will enjoy the hours and get lost for hours in these radiant waters. Lake Pleasant is a favorite spot for locals who love kayaking, and this makes it a great place to hang out if you are looking for people with similar interests as yours. Visitors are assured of pleasant times when they visit lake pleasant.

4. Lower Salt River

There is an abundance of wildlife giving you an extraordinary experience besides kayaking. If you have never seen a wild horse, then you are most likely to see one at Lower Salt River. The spectacular sight of the lush green cover on the big stunning cliffs is amazing for any first-time visitor. If you are tired of kayaking, you can try angling to give you a separate feel of this river. Visitors often enjoy the flawless beauty of the green Tonto forest as they navigate through the Lower Salt River.

5. Upper Salt River

The Upper Salt River in Arizona is a great destination for kayaking and canoeing as it winds its way through the Tonto National Forest, offering beautiful scenery and a chance to see various wildlife. The river is known for its clear, blue water and white sandy beaches, making it a popular spot for swimming and sunbathing as well.

Kayakers of all skill levels can enjoy the Upper Salt River, as the river offers a range of difficulty levels. Beginners can paddle downstream on the lower section of the river, while more experienced kayakers can take on the rapids and white water of the upper section.

It is important to note that the Upper Salt River is a popular spot for kayaking and can get crowded during peak season, so it’s best to plan your trip during the week or early in the morning. Additionally, be aware of the potential for flash floods, which can occur quickly and without warning. Always check the weather forecast before heading out, and be prepared for any emergencies.

It’s also important to note that the Upper Salt River has been designated as a Wild and Scenic River, which means that it is protected by the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and is managed to preserve its free-flowing condition, unique geology, and diverse plant and animal communities. As such, it is important to follow the rules and regulations set by the Forest Service to ensure that the river remains protected for future generations to enjoy.

Overall, kayaking in the Upper Salt River in Arizona is a great way to experience the beauty of the area and take in the natural beauty of the Tonto National Forest.

6. Big Lake, Apache County

Many people are yet to discover the beauty of this place because of where it is located. It sits in the White Mountains in the middle of Northern Arizona. It is one of the best kayaking areas for a peaceful and calm adventure. Kayak anglers are also in to have a good time. The immense numbers of trout fish make it quite an experience. Outdoor activities are plenty and beautiful scenery is guaranteed. The Big Lake has different spots for you to enjoy when you are out kayaking. No gas engines are allowed, and this makes it very spacious for kayakers. The 450-acre lake has a 9000 feet elevation.

Kayaking In Lake Powell utah arizona

7. Lake Powell

Lake Powell is an adventure-seeker’s paradise, offering a plethora of thrilling water-based activities such as boating, fishing, swimming and kayaking. Formed by the construction of the Glen Canyon Dam in the 1960s, this man-made reservoir stretches a massive 186 miles through the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, covering a whopping 160,000 acres and boasting a shoreline longer than the entire west coast of the US. With over 2,000 miles of rugged shoreline and a host of hidden canyons and inlets to explore, kayaking on Lake Powell is an unforgettable way to experience the lake’s stunning natural beauty. Get ready for an epic adventure and access some of the lake’s more remote spots that are only accessible by kayak.

One of the main draws of Lake Powell is its striking red rock canyons and mesas, which are accessible by boat. Visitors can explore narrow slot canyons, caves, and natural arches. Many people also enjoy fishing on the lake, as it is home to various fish species, such as striped bass, largemouth bass, and rainbow trout.

In addition to boating and fishing, Lake Powell is also a popular spot for swimming, water skiing, and wakeboarding. Houseboating is also a popular activity on the lake, with many people renting houseboats to explore the lake’s many inlets and canyons.

Aside from boating, Lake Powell offers many different outdoor activities like hiking, backpacking, camping, and even scenic drives. The surrounding area features natural arches, slot canyons, and unique rock formations, like the famous Horseshoe Bend just a few miles upstream from the dam.

It’s worth noting that the lake level can vary based on the season, water demand, and snow melt in the nearby mountains, so the shoreline is not always the same in the different seasons, and the accessibility to some areas may change. Additionally, due to the remote nature of much of Lake Powell, it’s important to be well-prepared when visiting and to be aware of any potential hazards, like the sudden high winds and the intense sun exposure.

Do you need a permit to kayak in Lake Powell?

No, a permit is not required to kayak in Lake Powell. However, it is required to launch your kayak from developed boat ramps and camp overnight on the lake. Additionally, like any national park or recreation area, some regulations and guidelines must be followed to help protect natural resources and ensure the safety of visitors. These regulations can include speed limits, designated areas for swimming and water sports, and rules for waste disposal. It is important to familiarize yourself with these regulations before heading out on the lake.

Grand canyon picture

8. The Grand Canyon

There is a reason the Grand Canyons is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. This is an excellent adventure for experienced paddlers to explore while out kayaking in Arizona. The Colorado River takes you through the beautiful scenes of the Canyons. Only paddlers with class 4 white water skills are allowed to go on unguided explorations. This is because most of the water you paddle through is from the white water rapids and could be dangerous for new paddlers.

kayaking on willow springs lake

9. Willow Springs Lake

It has a hook shape that provides different and beautiful sceneries all around. If you are looking for a variety of good camping sites, Willow Springs Lake will take you days of exploration. Both sides of the lake are like two different worlds. You can have more exploration spaces as you travel deep through the peaceful and quiet edges of the Sitgreaves National Forest. The lake is surrounded by big trees, and the weather is always temperate.

10. Bear Canyon Lake

This is placed high in the Coconino National Forest. It is suitable for beginners because it is not too wide and makes it easy to cross. It is also easy to return to shore once you finish your ride. The journey that takes you to lower elevations is quite intriguing, an experience you get when you kayak the entire Bear Canyon Lake. This location is also good for rock climbing, hiking, and set camp. There are so many outdoor activities to do including fishing. But you can also visit bear canyon lake just to take in the sights.

Arizona is a beautiful place for kayaking because it has a mix of lakes, reservoirs, rivers, and canyons. This makes Arizona top of the list of places you should visit.

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