Lakes to kayak around Phoenix

If you can’t arrange a vehicle shuttle, or the Salt River isn’t flowing sufficiently for a trip, you might want to consider paddling one of the local Phoenix-area lakes. 

The Salt River lakes

Canyon Lake offers two secluded coves perfect for kayaking

You can kayak on each of the lakes in the Salt River chain. Saguaro Lake is the most convenient to the Valley, scenic, and offers a non-motorized launching area at Butcher Jones Recreation Area. Canyon Lake is incredibly scenic, with tall canyon walls and a couple of coves where you can avoid motorized traffic. Apache Lake is the hardest to get to (especially with a portion of the Apache Trail indefinitely closed), but offers some excellent kayak-camping options. Roosevelt Lake is by far the largest (and windiest).

Lakes near north Phoenix and Scottsdale

It’s still possible to find some solitude at Bartlett Lake, especially in shallow coves

On the northwest side of metro Phoenix lies Lake Pleasant, which may be the most popular lake to kayak in the county; there are even regular ranger-led kayaking tours. Northeast of Scottsdale you can find Bartlett Lake and the Horseshoe Reservoir. Bartlett is a favorite kayaking destination for many, while Horseshoe is likely to provide more solitude.

Urban kayaking

There are even four urban lakes that you can kayak within city limits. With a City of Tempe boating permit, you can paddle around both Tempe Town Lake and Kiwanis Lake. In Scottsdale, you can paddle without a permit in both McCormick Lake and McKellips Lake.