Kayaking in Arizona | Kayak Horizons

Colorado river kayaking

Kayaking in Arizona | Kayak Horizons

When your mind wanders to Arizona, you probably think of a vast desert, the Grand Canyon, and dry, hot climate. Contrary to this popular belief, Arizona happens to have some of the most sublime bodies of water in North America!

From valley rivers to mountain rivers, natural lakes to artificial lakes, Arizona has it all! Talk about a real kayaker’s paradise! And just to make it dreamier, it caters to every kind of excursion a kayaker may think of. Solo, group, guided, non-guided, single day or multiple day excursions? Yes, you guessed it right, you will find it all there.

We have compiled a list of the 6 best kayaking places in Arizona for the love of this kayaking haven. After all, everyone has the right to be immersed in such beauty.

The 6 Best Kayaking Places in Arizona

1. Blue Ridge Reservoir

Kayaking Blue Ridge Reservoir

Bordering the Mogollon Rim, this scenic reservoir is one of the best kayaking places in Arizona, if not the best.

This peaceful lake features gorgeous scenery. Being engulfed by lush forests and large canyon walls and lying at an elevation of 6,700 feet above the ground will leave you mesmerized by the majestic beauty of nature in this area.

The narrowness of the lake, the flat slow-moving water, and the fact that there are no motorboats allowed in the lake make it ideal for beginner kayakers. On the other hand, seasoned kayakers may find it blissful to flow peacefully and lazily in the water, taking in the alluring surroundings with no care in the world.

Note: Since the lake is surrounded by canyons, pine forests, and steep cliffs, launching your kayak is only possible from the boat ramp that is located on the northern side of the lake.

2. Lower Salt River

Kayaking Lower Salt River

A very close rival to Blue ridge reservoir, Lower Salt River in Tonto national forest can offer you one of the most memorable kayaking experiences. If you have an itch for authentic wilderness, this is the spot for you!

Along with the beautiful smooth flowing water, picturesque cliffs, and beautiful greenery, this place is abundant with wildlife. Spotting wild mustangs or horses on the riverbank is just a typical, yet breath-taking, occasion.

The calm water makes this lake ideal for novice kayakers and those who would like to practice different techniques.

There are plenty of places by the lake that offer kayak renting at reasonable prices and arrange fun guided tours. Also, there is a part of the lake that is dedicated to swimming. Seriously, what more can we ask for?

Note: This is a particularly famous spot with the locals, which means that it can sometimes get very crowded, especially in the summer. If you are not a fan of the bustle, you may want to avoid it at this time.

3. Big lake, Apache County

Kayaking Big lake, Apache County

This hidden gem lies at the base of the white mountains in Apache-Sitgreaves national forest. The lake covers 575 acres, standing true to its name!

What's particularly unique about this lake is its massive trout population, making it a rich fishing hub and an excellent spot for kayaking fishing.

Standing at 9000-feet above the ground makes it easier to soak in the surrounding picture-perfect beautiful mountains and vast forests while kayaking. If you are a fan of photography, imagine how blissful it would be to chill on your kayak while capturing the magnificent views!

Worthy of note is that gas engines are not permitted, which preserves the lake's tranquillity and gives ample space and freedom for beginners to refine their kayaking skills.

Picnic areas and campgrounds are also available by the lake, which means that you can add other activities to your day of kayaking, making it even more worthwhile. You will also find a general store for food and supplies, so no worries if you forget to bring anything you need.

Note: If you’re going for kayak fishing, having a kayak fish finder will make things way easier for you, not to mention more enjoyable.

4. Lake Pleasant, Maricopa County

Kayaking Lake Pleasant, Maricopa County

Do you live close to Metro Phoenix? Then this lake is the ultimate scenic spot to choose for your kayaking experience!

Since it is an artificial lake, it has cliffs and canyons on the side. It is also surrounded by rugged landscapes that are rich with wildlife, and the fact that it extends for 11.5 miles with lots of coves and little islands that offer a lot to explore.

There are several places where you can launch your kayak, and you'll also find boat ramps. Moreover, if you are a fan of kayak fishing, this lake is home to a wide variety of fish species, including bass and catfish.

Note: There are many places around the lake that are ideal for primitive camping and hiking. So, if the idea of a weekend trip of camping, kayaking, and hiking seems enticing to you, this place will surely not disappoint!

5. Lone Rock Canyon

Kayaking Lone Rock Canyon

Stunning views? Calm waters? Impressive towering cliffs? Check, check, and check! Without a doubt, this spot is one of the most popular ones for kayaking, for beginners and masters alike.

Whether you’re looking for a solo experience or a guided one, this place will cater to your needs. Just make sure that you go in the morning to enjoy the calm waters and warm weather and that you catch the sunset so that you'd fully take in one of the most picturesque views in the area.

Note: If you are a thrill-seeker, do not hesitate to interrupt your kayaking trip and try cliff diving, it is to die for!

6. Colorado River

Kayaking Colorado River

Home to the Grand Canyon, one of the 7 wonders of the natural world, there is no way a list of the best kayaking spots cannot include the Colorado River.

Worthy of note is that the river is divided into different parts; each is rated differently by the American Whitewater’s Scale of River Difficulty.

For the Grand Canyon part, you would need to have Class 4 whitewater skills. Other parts may be suitable for beginner kayakers but be sure to check what suits your skills and choose days when the water is calmer. It may even be better to opt for a guided excursion to enjoy this beauty while ensuring your safety is not being jeopardized.

That said, if you decide to embark on this adventure, you will be enjoying marvelous sceneries, between the azure flowing waters and the mountains that hug you from all directions, your heart will be left flattering in your chest!

Final words

All the places on the list are literally bucket-list material, but there are a few points that may help you decide on one. While all options are suitable for beginners, you may want to avoid the Colorado River if you are not an experienced kayaker.

If wildlife lights up your soul, then Lower Salt River will not disappoint, while if you are into kayak fishing, then definitely go for Big Lake or Lake Pleasant. Those last two options are also perfect if you want to camp/picnic and kayak.

Last but not least, be sure to educate yourself on kayak safety before you head out.

Have a safe, fun, relaxing trip!

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