While many people think of Arizona as being a dry, hot desert, the truth is that there are lots of different waterways to explore and enjoy with your family during the summer months or all year round. Whether you want to float peacefully down a serene river, join a bass fishing tournament, or feel the thrill of wakeboarding behind a motorboat, you’ll find the perfect water-based activities for your family at these seven waterways near Goodyear, Arizona.
Image via Flickr by ksblack99
In 1911, the creation of the Roosevelt Dam turned the upper portion of the Salt River into Roosevelt Lake. Today, the area draws thousands of visitors to enjoy the multi-use area. Anglers find the lake a fisherman’s dream with abundant small-mouth and large-mouth bass, crappie, sunfish, and flathead catfish. Wakeboarding and water skiing are quite popular, and if you wish to stay for a few days, you’ll find several camping areas along the 660 miles of shoreline.
A fun way to explore Roosevelt Lake is by houseboat. Bring a group of friends or family and rent a boat to accommodate your group size. From houseboats for two to three people to one that can hold 14 people and comes with a hot tub, you can find the perfect houseboat for your group.
Other than boating, you can spend the day swimming from one of the lake’s sandy beaches, enjoy a picnic, and watch for migrating waterfowl like Canadian geese. Bald eagles and osprey hunt for fish in the lake, and wildlife like bobcats, deer, and foxes come to the water for a cool drink.
Estrella Mountain North and South Lakes
Nestled in the master-planned community of Estrella in the foothills of the Sierra Estrella Mountains are North and South Lake, encompassing over 72 acres. If you’re a resident of Estrella, head over to the Yacht Club at North Lake for free boat rentals to explore and fish the lake. You can take monthly sailing lessons as well as boating safety classes sponsored by the Yacht Club. Take a kayak and try your hand at catch and release fishing, have fun paddle boarding, or just enjoy the beauty of North Lake.
South Lake is family-oriented with sand volleyball, pickleball, and tennis courts. Hike around the 1.3-mile lake, relax on the sandy beach, and splash in the warm water. Bring a picnic or barbecue supplies and enjoy a fun day at South Lake.
Lower Salt River
You can have with the whole family floating down the serene Lower Salt River. Head east about an hour from Goodyear to the Tonto National Forest, and make a reservation with Salt River Tubing and Recreation to rent inner tubes for two-, three-, or five-hour float trips down the river.
Salt River Tubing provides tubes, and when your float trip is finished, they’ll pick you up in a shuttle bus. Bring a picnic, a cooler filled with ice and beverages in non-glass containers, and plenty of water. Watch for waterfowl, wildlife, and raptors hunting for fish. Take a break along the shore to enjoy your picnic and hike along the trails.
Tempe Town Lake
In the heart of Tempe, Arizona, is the multi-use Tempe Town Lake. The entire lake and the southern Tempe Lake Beach are a great place to get outdoors, kayak, and paddleboard or attend festivals and concerts. You can rent a variety of watercraft from Boat Rentals of America that include fun pedal boats that kids and adults enjoy. A fun adventure for a large group of up to 12 people is to rent an electric boat. The boat has a shaded area with a dining table so you can enjoy a picnic while cruising around the lake. You can also bring your own non-gasoline watercraft, including sailboats and electric boats.
Lake Pleasant Regional Park
About 45 miles north of Goodyear is the gorgeous Lake Pleasant Regional Park. The park encompasses over 20,000 acres of lake and wild desert. The recreational opportunities are numerous, including water activities, fishing, hiking, and hunting.
The lake is open to motorboats so you can go water skiing or wakeboarding. Kayakers enjoy cruising along the calm shoreline, and anglers love catching the various species of bass. Bring your own boat, or rent different kinds of boats from one of the marinas. After a day of playing on the water, have a meal at either the Scorpion Bay Marina or Pleasant Harbor Marina. The sunsets over the Sonoran Desert are magnificent, so stay to enjoy the beauty.
Chaparral Park and Lake
Bring your fishing pole, kayak, or electric motorboat to the stunningly beautiful Chaparral Lake in Scottsdale, about 35 miles from Goodyear. The 100-acre multi-use park features a lake that you can fish in either from the shore or from the fishing pier. Hike along the numerous trails, play basketball and sand volleyball, or swim in the community pool.
Bring a picnic and enjoy your meal under the shaded pavilion, and your furry friend can have fun playing in the 3-acre dog park. The park has grass, benches for you to rest on, and plenty of water fountains for the thirsty pups to drink from. October through March, Arizona Game and Fish stock the lake with trout, and between April and September, they stock the lake with catfish and sunfish.
Surprise Community Park
Bring the entire family, including the dog, about 25 miles north of Goodyear to Surprise Community Park. Stand on the shore of the lake and fish, take a stroll around it, or relax in the grassy area with a picnic. Kids of all ages can play basketball, baseball, pickleball, volleyball, or tennis. Let the youngsters burn off energy playing on the playground, and the pups can play with other dogs in the dog park. When the heat is on in Goodyear, enjoy cooling off and playing in these lakes and rivers. If you plan on fishing, be sure to check the area for special fishing licenses and rules and regulations.