10 Best Places To Go Kayaking In Arizona

Arizona Grand Canyon

Arizona is popular in the Kayaking community for the many rivers and lakes in their different shapes and sizes. The state has something for everyone and non-kayaking enthusiasts can tag along to the grand canyon, one of the world’s natural wonders, located in the north.

There are over a hundred lakes and five major rivers in Arizona. If you are an outdoor water sports enthusiast, you should already be in Arizona.

This article explores ten of the best places to go kayaking in Arizona.

Let’s get down to business!

1. Lake Pleasant

Lake Pleasant is one of the top spots for kayaking in Arizona. It is located in Morristown, a 45-minute drive from Phoenix. It has a surface elevation of 1,700 feet and an average depth of 70 feet.

The breathtaking views of the canyons and tower cliffs draw in thousands of people every year looking to ski, fish or get some kayaking going. It is crucial to err on the side of caution as the lake sees its fair share of power boaters; you should kayak at the shoreline for your safety.

2. Watson Lake

Watson lake is close to Prescott, 100 miles from Phoenix, Arizona. The waters here are calmer than compared to Lake Pleasant and are ideal for budding kayakers. One feature you can not miss kayaking on Watson lake is the ripply and lumpy, 1.4 billion-year-old Granite Dells. It would add an extra layer of intrigue as you paddle with friends or family through the several giant boulders on the lake.

If you happen to forget your kayak at home, don’t worry; you can borrow a kayak for 15 dollars per hour.

3. Lower Salt River

The Lower Salt River is located just below Saguaro lake, it is about half an hour drive from downtown Phoenix, Arizona. This river is packed with wild horses and bald eagles that would leave you stunned while kayaking on this lake.

Launch your kayak at the Saguaro Lake Ranch to have an amazing view of the beautiful wildlife of the Lower Salt River. While launching your kayak, prepare your mind for some strong river currents beat and packing light helps beat the current on this lake, and the use of river-running kayaks also helps. These intricacies make the lower salt river too technical for newbies who should seek fun alternatives elsewhere.

Note: There are a lot of wild horses and deer on this river; do not approach any of the animals.

4. Lake Powell

A view of Lake Powell

Lake Powell is another popular spot to kayak in Arizona, welcoming about 2 million tourists every year. The lake stretches 180 miles long with a surface elevation of 3,700 feet and an average depth of 132 feet.

You need to kayak in one of the 96 side canyons for a truly unforgettable experience on this lake. Furthermore, to explore the nooks and crannies of Lake Powell, we encourage you to take one of the guided tours available at an affordable price. One of which is going on a kayaking trip to the popular Antelope Canyon. This canyon stimulates your visual senses as it serenades you with views of the entire lake.

5. Big Lake

The big lake is located in Apache County, Arizona. It has a surface elevation of 9000 feet, making it a top spot for fishing. If you own a fishing kayak, the big lake is the ideal place for you to be.

The main drawback for kayakers on the big lake has to do with the restrictions during the winter months. Due to heavy snow, the lake is restricted for use from December to April. Don’t worry, you can still have an awesome kayaking adventure during the summer months.

The temperature on this lake can be freaking cold, so ensure you come with appropriate clothing. However, you must obtain a license to kayak and fish on this lake. To obtain a license, visit a convenience store located near the lake.

6. Blue Ridge Reservoir

Blue Ridge Reservoir is situated in the Mogollon Rim of Arizona. It is known for its scenic and tree-lined lake pattern. When it comes to breathtaking sceneries, it hardly gets better than the blue ridge reservoir.

One of the benefits of kayaking on this lake is that no permit is necessary. In addition, the water on this lake is peaceful, a good place for kayaking beginners to polish their kayaking skills. Just like the Big Lake, this reservoir is not always open for public use. It is restricted from kayaking during winter. If you want to unwind and detach from the hustle and bustle of daily life, blue ridge reservoir is the place to be!

7. Patagonia Lake

Kayakers on Patagonia Lake

Patagonia Lake is another top destination in Arizona for kayaking. This man-made lake is located to the south of Patagonia town, Arizona. The lake has a surface elevation of 4,050 feet and a maximum depth of 120 feet. This lake came about by creating a dam out of the Sonoita creek.

No matter where you are on this lake, you can’t be farther than 300 meters from the shoreline, which makes it a popular spot for kayaking newbies. Furthermore, what adds to the joy of kayaking on this lake is the wide variety of birds you would encounter. Birds like the hummingbird, blue heron, Inca dove, flycatcher and various duck species.

The lake is open for public use from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. every day. The admission fee for a single vehicle is $15 on weekdays, while $20 is charged on Saturdays and Sundays.

8. Colorado River

The Colorado River is one of the five major rivers that flow through Arizona into Lake Mead. It’s a popular tourist destination for a wide range of outdoor water sports. The iconic structures you can’t miss while paddling on this lake are the Grand Canyons, beautiful landscapes, and jaw-dropping cliffs.

Since the Arizona part of the Colorado River is quite big, we encourage you to choose a section of the river you’ll be kayaking in. The Upper Colorado River is a good spot for kayaking due to the absence of violent rapids. But to kayak on this river, you must obtain a permit. The permit system was designed some few years back to protect the river from overcrowding.

9. Fool Hollow Lake

This top kayaking spot is situated in Navajo County, Arizona. The lake has a surface elevation of about 6000 feet and an average depth of 23 feet. Due to its calm nature, the fool hollow lake is perfect for both experts and amateur kayakers. Unlike some other rivers and lakes in Arizona, it is available all year round. Furthermore, the lake can be accessed from different parts, which makes it one of the most accessible lakes for kayakers. The admission fee for this lake ranges from $7-$10. If you left your watercraft at home, J&T offers kayaks and canoes for rent at affordable prices.

10. Canyon Lake

Canyon Lake was formed by the damming of the Salt River. It is an artificial lake located in Maricopa County, Arizona. It is approximately 15 miles from Phoenix. While kayaking on this lake, you will have the chance to explore a variety of side canyons. These canyons include First Water Cove, Labarge Cove, and Crucifix Gorge.

Note: All the fees mentioned in this article were correct at the time of publication. Fees are subject to change. Check destination websites for updated information before embarking on a trip.

Kayaking Laws In Arizona State

Before going on a kayaking trip to one of the above places in Arizona, you need to familiarize yourself with the kayaking laws. This would protect you from getting on the wrong side of the law. Here are some of the laws:

  • Kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards are considered non-motorized watercraft under Arizona State laws. They are purely recreational. Hence, many motorized watercraft laws in Arizona do not apply to them.
  • Anyone can kayak or paddle a self-propelled watercraft in Arizona. No minimum age requirements.
  • Every kayak, canoe, and paddleboard must have an approved Personal Floatation Device (PFDs) for everyone on board.
  • A child who is 12 years old or under must always have a PFD worn at all times.
  • It is criminal to operate any type of watercraft under the influence of alcohol.
  • Every watercraft must have a whistle on board in case of emergency.


Arizona is a state filled with amazing nature and wildlife. Going on a kayaking trip in one of the ten listed places is a sure way to have an unforgettable kayaking adventure. However, to have a fun-filled experience in Arizona, stick to the rules.