Need a place to escape the Arizona heat? Head to one of the awesome waterways around Chandler and other parts of the Greater Phoenix area. You have a few lakes and reservoirs as well as a calm river to enjoy the outdoors with your favorite water-based activities, like swimming, kayaking, canoeing, stand-up paddleboarding, and more. That’s why Crème de la Crème of Chandler has put together this list of the five best waterways near Chandler that you can explore. 

Tempe Town Lake

A family kayaks down a waterway in Chandler, Arizona

Kids in Kayaks on Shoreline Lake” licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Flickr by donjd2

In nearby Tempe, Arizona, you’ll find the little oasis of Tempe Town Lake. This waterway offers a variety of water-based activities, including paddling on swan boats, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and pontooning. There are a few rental places in the area where you can get your favorite watercraft for a few hours or the whole day, or you can purchase a permit and bring your own watercraft. You can also fish in the lake for species like rainbow trout, largemouth bass, yellow bass, tilapia, carp, bluegill, and catfish.

Another great feature of Tempe Town Lake is the paved trail that hugs the parts of the lakeshore. This 7-mile loop trail is perfect for a scenic stroll, jog, or biking adventure. You can walk the entire 7 miles in a few hours or shorten your stroll by walking the pedestrian bridge near the Tempe Center for the Arts. There’s also lush green grass areas for playing and picnicking by the water.

After you’ve had your fun at the lake, head to a nearby restaurant or bar. You’re just steps away from Downtown Tempe and the entertainment there.

Salt River

The Salt River runs through nearby Tempe, Phoenix, and Mesa, and there are many spots along the river where you can go rafting and tubing, kayaking, canoeing, and boating. Each town along the river has at least one designated entrance dock or marina and plenty of places to rent watercraft if you don’t have any of your own. You can even book a “floating trip” with companies like Salt River Tubing in Mesa. This company and others provide safe and fun tubing trips starting in late spring.

If you’re an angler, get excited to fish the Salt River for rainbow trout, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, sunfish, catfish, and more, depending on the portion of the river you’re casting into. What’s more, the river is known to be great for fly fishing. And if you’re interested in seeing some wildlife, there’s an 18-mile stretch in the Lower Salt River that features wild horses along the riverbank.

Saguaro Lake

Saguaro Lake is located in Tonto National Forest about 38 miles northeast of Chandler, making it a relatively short distance for a day trip location. This lake, like many others in the area, is fed by the Salt River. Unlike some smaller lakes in the area, Saguaro Lake has a full-scale marina that welcomes motorized boats, paddleboats, kayaks, canoes, pontoons, and other watercraft. You can also go tubing, sailing, and water skiing. Like fishing? Catch rainbow trout, walleye, tilapia, yellow perch, carp, crappie, sunfish, largemouth bass, and smallmouth bass.

This area is also home to Saguaro Lake Ranch, a camping destination with direct access to the waterfront and marina, rustic cabins for more upscale camping, and facilities for special events. You can stay for a night or two, enjoy the lake, and even go horseback riding along the reservoir and into portions of the Sonoran Desert, where you can see the namesake Saguaro cactus. No matter what activity you choose, you’re sure to have some of the most amazing, panoramic views you’ll ever see.

You can purchase a day pass at Tonto National Forest for $8 or an annual pass for $80, both of which allow you to park and enjoy the lake and park. You also have to pay a $4 fee for a watercraft registration sticker. If you want to camp to enjoy the lake for multiple days, stay at one of the campgrounds in the park, where you’ll find tent and RV camping sites.

Canyon Lake

Also in Tonto National Forest is Canyon Lake, another Salt River-fed reservoir. Canyon Lake is just a few miles east of Saguaro Lake, so you could spend a day at each waterway to enjoy (almost) everything this area has to offer. What sets Canyon Lake apart from the others is that, in addition to common activities like boating, kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, and fishing, you can also go scuba diving, wakeboarding, and water skiing. Another thing that sets it apart is that you can actually take a steamboat tour of the lake to take in the natural sights of nearby desert cliffs.

You can visit the Canyon Lake Marina and Campground to get supplies, dock and launch your watercraft, and camp for a night or two at one of their tent or RV sites. If you’re looking to fish, you’ll catch many of the same species you would at Saguaro Lake: bluegill, crappie, walleye, rainbow trout, and catfish. Be sure to enjoy the designated swimming area to cool off from the Arizona heat. If you want to hike and dry off, you’re just a few hundred feet away from a few trailheads of Tonto National Forest.

Lake Pleasant

Lake Pleasant is about 66 miles northwest of Chandler, making it a good spot for a day trip or weekend getaway. This lake is the main feature of Lake Pleasant Regional Park and is home to multiple marinas and docks for all your watercraft needs. You can enjoy kayaking, canoeing, boating, and paddle-boating, in addition to swimming in the designated areas, sunbathing by the water, and scuba diving. And if you’re itching to fish, you can look forward to catching a wide variety of species, including white bass, striped bass, largemouth bass, bluegill, white crappie, black crappie, channel, and flathead catfish, tilapia, green sunfish, and others.

So there you have it, five amazing waterways to explore all year long around Chandler and the Greater Phoenix area. Did we miss any of your family’s favorite waterways? If so, contact us to let us know. We’ll be happy to add it to our list!