Canyon Lake: The Canyon Jewel of Phoenix

Of the four lakes created through the damming of the Salt River, Canyon is the smallest, but arguably the most picturesque. The magnificent rock formations and high red-rock canyon walls create a picture of unique southwestern natural beauty. Hidden coves peek out around every turn on the lake allowing for quite fishing, picnicking and boating. The lake offers visitors a variety of scenery, services, and activities to choose from. Guests looking to lounge lakeside, drop a line and lure, or zoom around on a jet ski can peacefully coexist here.

Gateway of the Scenic Apache Trail.

Canyon Lake, just 16 miles northeast of Apache Junction on Route 88 is considered the gateway to the Apache Trail, one of the most scenic drives in Arizona. The Apache Trail features spectacular views of Canyon Lake, Apache Lake and Roosevelt Lake which marks the end of the Trail 47 miles from Apache Junction. Along the way, enjoy the views along the winding road, on the backside of the Superstition Mountains and ancient cliff dwellings of prehistoric Native Americans.

Beauty and Tranquility.

The walls of Canyon Lake rise in spectacular spirals and forms. Visitors can only arrive via Route 88 from Apache Junction and will catch glimpses of the lake as they draw near, creating a sense of anticipation. The road is paved and well-marked but full of twists and turns so use caution at all times.

The lake is located approximately 47 miles from downtown Phoenix and is typically less than an hours drive depending upon your origination point in the Valley area. At an elevation of 1,660 feet, the lake itself twists and turns for over 10 miles through a breath-taking gorge. Twenty-eight miles of shoreline welcome visitors to explore, play, and sunbath, and 950 surface acres of shimmering waters play host to boaters, jet skiers, water skiers, and wind sailers. For those looking to experience and explore the desert surroundings, the lake does not disappoint.

Numerous plant, bird, and wildlife species including Big Horn sheep, javelina, and deer are in abundance along the rocky edges of the lake. Many of the lakes secluded coves and lagoons are accessible only by water, but you don’t need a motorboat to explore these Edens ; a rowboat, canoe, or raft will do. Dotted with a variety of desert plant life, the shoreline is shattered rock tumbling down to smaller pebbled watery edges, perfect for camping and picnicking. Extensive hiking trails are in abundance to guide you along the lake’s edge or back into the wilderness surrounding it.

Boating, Fishing, and Camping.

Angler’s flock to Canyon Lake to slip into a secluded cove and fish for walleye, largemouth bass, yellow bass, rainbow trout, bluegill, channel catfish, and crappie. The full-service Canyon Lake Marina and Campground with a restaurant, boat rentals, fuel services, two boat ramps, and 46 camping spaces make getting around on and off the water easy.

There is also a Maricopa County Sheriffs’ aid station located near the marina. Two miles from the marina is the Tortilla Flat Campground which is open from October through April and offers 77 camping spots with sewage and water hookups available for a small fee. Fisherman and boaters can also opt to travel three miles up the lake to the Point Campground. This campground is open year-round at no charge but has only three spaces available, so depending on the season, arriving early could be critical if you want to camp there. There are three recreational sites; the Acacia Picnic Site, the Palo Verde Recreation Site, and the Boulder Creek Recreation Site. The sites offer picnic areas and restroom facilities, and the idyllic climate permits all three to be open year-round. They are available at no charge.

So close to the Phoenix area, guests can make a day trip out of their visit or easily choose to stay and camp for a long weekend. Canyon Lake is the perfect spot for families and friends to spend time together picnicking, camping, playing, boating, jet skiing, fishing and enjoying the scenic beauty of the Arizona wilderness. Canyon Lake and all it’s surrounding wilderness is undeniably the perfect outdoor jewel for residents and visitors of the Phoenix area.

Ride The Dolly Steamboat.

The “Dolly” features cruise tours of Arizona’s “Junior Grand Canyon”. Sit back and enjoy the scenery as the Dolly Steamboat cruises the waterways along the canyon walls. Admire the breathtaking native flora and wildlife as your captain recounts the legends and lore of the Superstition Mountains. Choose from several cruises including sunset, lunch and dinner cruises. Dolly also offers wedding packages. See our Phoenix Wedding Guide for other wedding services.

Getting To Canyon Lake.

Take the Superstition Freeway (Highway 60) east to Apache Junction. Exit at Idaho Road and turn north to Highway 88 (Apache Trail). Travel along Highway 88 northeast for about 14 miles. Just past the second one-lane bridge, turn left into the Canyon Lake Marina.

Canyon Lake Map.

Precision Marine Boat Rentals and Service.

Precision Marine offers an extensive selection of boat rentals including Pontoon Boats, Runabouts, Fishing Boats, Canoes and Kayaks for your enjoyment on Canyon Lake and Saguaro Lake. It also offers complete boat service and repair.

Precision Marine
Located at the Lake
(480) 986-0969

About The Pictures.

All Canyon Lake Photos are compliments of Robert Body. Robert offers art decor prints, stock images and assignment photography. Pictures may not be re-published without authorization.

More Information.

Read more about Canyon Lake which is one of the popular lakes in the Phoenix area. Others include Saguaro LakeLake Pleasant and Bartlett Lake.