The Ultimate Guide to Kayaking in Arizona (Rivers & Lakes)

Fact Checked By James A Rockey | Post Updated On: July 17, 2021
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When people envision Arizona, they usually think of the desert. However, Arizona is a treasure trove for kayakers too. Arizonans tamed many of the rivers and damned. This results in massive sparkling freshwater lakes for kayaking throughout the year.

In Arizona, you can kayak on lakes, rivers, and streams of varying levels of difficulty. The most popular time to go kayaking is during the fall when the weather cools down and leaves change colors.

Arizona is abundant with kayaking opportunities. The Grand Canyon provides a unique opportunity for kayakers to paddle through the canyon from rim to the rim while gazing at natural rock formations.

Kayaking in Arizona

There are seasonal rivers that depend on molten snow and rainfall. The rivers in Arizona are suitable for kayaking. These rivers receive plenty of sunlight throughout the year. Therefore, it is the perfect spot to kayak in a scenic setting.

kayaking in arizona

Kayaking in Valley Lakes, Arizona

Lake Pleasant Regional Lake has ports like Scorpion Bay and Pleasant Harbor allows kayakers to rent kayaks. There is a renowned outdoor retailer named Cabela’s, the retailer has gear and equipment on sale for kayakers.

Guided trips and group events are organized by the Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department. Saguaro Lake, which is a part of the Tonto National Park has Precision Marine that rents kayaks. If you want to kayak at Roosevelt Lake, keep in mind that the marina doesn’t rent kayaks.

Roosevelt Lake is famous as a motorboat destination and a personal watercraft. Paddlers can find quiet places, particularly located on the east side of the lake.

Mountain Lakes, Arizona

Big Lake is elevated up to 9,000 feet in the White Mountains. If you want the whole lake to kayakers, then Big Lake is perfect for you. Motorized boats and electric and small gas engines keep the Big Lake free from the contestation of heavy vessels.

Kayakers here don’t need to compete with big boats. Moreover, US Forest Service has several campgrounds located adjacent to the lake. The lake is full of trout. Upper Lake Mary and South of Flagstaff is narrow and long.

Kayaks, canoes, and sailboats are common while water skiers and powerboats are used by kayakers. You can find the campgrounds and ramps can be found nearby.

Recreational Areas

Lake Mead National Recreational Area and Glen Canyon National Recreational Area allow powerboating. But, kayakers can find plenty of quiet coves to journey and explore. You won’t have to pay a fee for launching your kayak.

There are areas that aren’t congested with larger boats that offer information and directions to areas. You have to be careful that invasive muscles may be rife in Lake Mead. A comprehensive visual and physical inspection is recommended by the National Park Service.

Answered: The Top 5 Best Places to Kayak in Arizona (AZ)

Arizona may be a land-locked state besieged by the Sonoran Desert. But, Arizona hosts some of the most outstanding kayaking locations in the USA. If you are new to kayaking, don’t be deterred by your lack of experience.

  • Blue Ridge Reservoir, Happy Jack, Arizona
  • Big Lake, Apache County, Arizona
  • Lone Rock Canyon, Page, Arizona
  • Lake Pleasant
  • Lower Salt River, Mesa, Arizona

Arizona has several spots with calm water that a beginner can tame. Before going on your first kayaking journey, you have to learn basic kayaking safety. Listed below are the five great spots a beginner goes on a kayaking journey in Arizona.

Book About Paddling in Arizona

Sale
Paddling Arizona
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Tyler Williams (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 248 Pages - 01/19/2007 (Publication Date) - Funhog Press (Publisher)

If you want to know the details of paddling in Arizona along with step by step guide to follow; then there is a book (248 pages in it) for you to read (here are more kayaking & paddling books). This book features the complete guide to find rivers and kayak-friendly lakes in Arizona along with ponds, reservoirs, backwaters, and whitewater rivers. This book also comes with maps for every area, photos, geographical & hydrological information about Arizona to make this guidebook a real guide for your next trip. This awesome book is written by a famous contributor to lots of outdoor magazines named Tyler Williams. 

Lakes in Arizona For Kayaking

Lakes in Arizona For Kayaking

Blue Ridge Reservoir, Happy Jack, Arizona

The place contains some of the most amazing sights for Arizona kayakers. It is an amazing reservoir that is bordering the Mogollon Rim. Large canyon walls and forestry surround the lake.

It is located about 6,700 feet above the ground.

The Blue Ridge Reservoir is an ideal spot to kayak. Besides concentrating on kayaking, you can enjoy spectacular views all around.

Peaceful waters, limited traffic, surround the Blue Ridge Reservoir. Motorized water vehicles aren’t allowed on the lake. Therefore, you will have plenty of space for kayaking.

Lone Rock Canyon, Page, Arizona

This is undoubtedly one of the most unforgettable kayak spots in the country altogether. Stunning views and calm waters make kayaking a popular activity. For the thrill-seekers, cliff diving along the walls of the canyon is a popular activity.

Lake Pleasant

Do you love Metro Phoenix? Or, do you live close by Metro Phoenix? Lake Pleasant is close to Metro Phoenix. And, it’s one of the closest water bodies. This is a very popular kayaking destination for locals. People from other states visit Lake Pleasant to have a pleasant time.

For explorers, the 11.5-mile lake is a treasure trove. You can hitch a local tour and get lost in for a couple of hours. All it takes is a couple of minutes of paddling. And, you can too enjoy the experience of the most beautiful kayaking location. The Phoenix area has plenty to offer. And, you too can take a bit of Arizona’s beauty.

Lower Salt River, Mesa, Arizona

Lower Salt River offers the most memorable kayak experience in the state. Stunning views and exploration of calm waters remain some of the most glaring features of this popular lake. The locals hold the Lower Salt River in high regard.

Whatever comes to your mind when you think of lush greenery near large stunning cliffs, the exact same components can be found here in Lower Salt River. The abundance of wildlife offers an excellent opportunity to spot a wild horse along the shoreline.

The Lower Salt River also allows kayakers to hone their angling skills. The Lower Salt River is uniquely located in the Tonto National Forest. Smooth and flawless water goes fine with its stunning scenery.

Big Lake, Apache County, Arizona

The lake is really expansive! This is a gem of a place located in the middle of Northern Arizona’s the White Mountains. Due to the location, many are yet to discover this place. For kayak anglers, an immense population of trout will be an excellent opportunity to fish.

Lake Powell, AZ

Lake Powell is an enormous reservoir in Glen Canyon, south of Page, AZ, and north of the city of Page, UT. It is one of the largest reservoirs in the United States, and the seventh-largest in the world. The reservoir was created by Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River near the town of Page. It is currently known for its recreational opportunities and its trout. Lake Powell is a man-made lake that was created by Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River near Page, Arizona.

Knoll Lake

Located in the Gila National Forest in the White Mountains of Arizona, Knoll Lake is a beautiful spot to kayak. The lake is surrounded by dense forests of pine and aspen. It is a beautiful spot for a refreshing dip in the clear, cool water. The water is always cool with a maximum depth of 10 feet. The lake is also home to large populations of rainbow trout, and smallmouth bass.

Rivers in Arizona For Kayaking

Rivers in Arizona For Kayaking

Gila River

Gila River is a Salt River tributary located in the southwest United States, in the state of Arizona. It is the longest river in Arizona. Despite being the second-longest Salt River tributary, it is actually the longest river entirely within the borders of Arizona. The Gila has two forks, one in New Mexico and one in California.

White River

White River Arizona is a river that flows into the Colorado River in Arizona and is known for its whitewater rapids on the upper stretches. The White River has a length of about ten miles and an elevation of 6,100 feet. The river flows through the White Mountain Apache Reservation, which was established in 1874. The river is suitable for kayaking due to its swift current, and several sets of rapids, such as “The Big Drop.”

Black River Arizona

At one time, the Black River was a wild and free-flowing river. Today, the terrain along the headwater section of the Black River has been largely transformed into developed land, including a golf course and a large housing development. The Black River begins as a small creek near Bear Mountain in the Mogollon Rim but is lined with many large hills in its lower section. The river is fed by a number of springs and creeks as it travels down into the

Salt River (Arizona)

Salt River is a major river in Phoenix, Arizona. The Salt River flows through the City of Tempe before emptying into Tempe Town Lake. The Salt River flows through a series of canals and reservoirs and is dammed near the confluence of the Salt and Verde rivers. The Salt River is often a destination for kayakers and canoeists, with easy access to the river at the Phoenix Indian School Park and the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.

Blue River

Blue River is a great recreational destination and a great place for family outings. The Blue River is a tributary of the Colorado River and it is located in the state of Arizona. The Blue River has two main parts, the lower part, and the upper part and both parts are about 8 miles long. The lower part is a relatively shallow section that flows between high bluffs, while the upper part flows through deep canyons. The lower part is also a popular spot for fly fishing and

Verde River

The Verde River is a major tributary of the Colorado River, in the southwestern United States. The river’s source is in the Superstition Mountains, at an elevation of about 4,100 feet. It flows southeast through the town of Apache Junction, where it receives Salt River from the north and passes through Goodyear, Arizona, where it is impounded by a dam. The river then flows through Casa Grande, where it is dammed again to form Lake Pleasant.

Santa Cruz River

“Santa Cruz River” is a small tributary in the United States Southwest. It begins at the headwaters in the Santa Rita Mountains of northeastern Santa Cruz County, Arizona, and flows in a generally northeast direction for about to join with the Gila River, southeast of Payson. The river is open for rafting, kayaking, and fishing. It is also a popular destination for whitewater rafters and kayakers because of its combination of high flow rates and scenic rapids. There are many recreational opportunities on the river, including whitewater rafting, kayaking, stand up paddleboarding, and canoeing. Though most of the river’s

Agua Fria River

Agua Fria River is a short waterway that flows into the Colorado River in the United States. The river is located near the communities of Agua Fria and Tubac in Pima County, Arizona. The river is just a few hundred yards south of the Mexican border. The Agua Fria River is a short waterway that flows into the Colorado River in the United States. The river is located near the communities of Agua Fria and Tubac in Arizona, just southeast of Tucson.

Kayaking in Arizona Canyons

Kayaking in Arizona Canyons

Kayaking Arizona canyons is a unique type of experience that could make for a great day trip.

Kayakers are able to go further, faster, and have more time to explore than hikers in the same areas.

There are many places where you can experience this activity including the Verde River, Red Rock Canyon, and Tonto Natural Bridge. The best time to go is Fall when the water levels are low and there are fewer people on the river.

10 Things to consider while Kayaking in Arizona canyons

Kayaking in Arizona canyons can be dangerous without proper training and experience. There are many regulations and safety precautions that kayakers should follow. Some of these are:

  • A route map and compass can be helpful.
  • Water is an essential part of kayaking. A water bottle is recommended.
  • A hat and sunscreen are also recommended.
  • Take a first-aid kit and a cell phone.
  • Take photos of the scenery on your trip and share on social media.
  • All boats must be equipped with a whistle or personal locator beacon (PLB).
  • All boats must have life jackets for everyone on board.
  • All boats must carry an orange paddle float or a buoy.
  • Paddle floats must have the kayakers name, phone number, and emergency contact information.

Places To Kayak in Phoenix, Flagstaff & Tucson

So, what about going even more locale of Arizona? Well, let’s find some spots to paddle in Phoenix and Tucson – for example.

Best Kayak & Canoe Rental Services in Arizona

Apart from Phoenix, Tucson owns some awesome spots and lakes for adventurous paddling. Here you go-

Final Thought

If you like to kayak, Arizona is a perfect place to be in this summer. Pristine mountain lakes, adjacent rivers, landlocked mountains will be more than enough to pull you in.

Last update on 2021-09-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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