When there’s no way to the beach, there’s always access to lakes. Lake Pleasant Regional Park is a major recreation hub right where I live and it’s the best “beach”-like escape from the heat of the Sonoran desert. Located in between the cities of Peoria and Morristown, this huge lake where its deep blue hue glistens among the dry mountains of Arizona has fantastic views and consists of a lot of activities to do.
Lake Pleasant’s name is perfect because it is a pleasant place to be at. It was also a great idea created because there aren’t really many bodies of water to find by Maricopa and Yavapai counties. Just writing this blog post excites me too because I love Lake Pleasant that much!
About Lake Pleasant
Lake Pleasant Regional Park is not a natural lake created through the process of our Earth. It is a man-made lake (it surprises some people honestly and I would’ve not thought so the first time I learned about it). The project to create this lake once actually held the record as being the largest agricultural dam project in the world! It is 7,500 acres huge with an average depth of 70 feet.
Originally sourcing its water from the Agua Fria River in 1927, this dam transformed into a watershed. It then began making plans to source its water from the Colorado River. So, you know, if you jump in and swim here, you know you’re getting a taste of the Colorado River that runs southwest. The Central Arizona Project Adequct is the diversion canal that helps the Colorado River run through the reservoir. Lake Pleasant plays an important role as being a water supply.
Things to do
What makes Lake Pleasant a major hub for outdoor recreation is the many things you do in and around the regional park. It has a marine harbor that allows parking and then there are docks for boats and there is access to beaches. If you are not from Arizona or seen states that do not have beaches, yep, the lakes are like beaches to us. You’re always blessed if you live by the coast to experience real beaches by the ocean!
There is plenty of wildlife to find in this lake and many species of fish in the lake, bass, and catfish, to name a few. Wild donkeys also roam around. There are, of course, the desert animals you would find here like rattlesnakes.
Kayaking and paddleboards
By the shops that are on the docks after taking a golf cart shuttle ride from the marine harbor’s parking lot, the GoPaddleAZ company allows you to rent paddleboards and kayaks. For single kayaks for one person, it is $20 for one hour and an additional $10 for every additional hour. A tandem kayak for 2 people is $30 for one hour and $15 for every additional hour – it’s best to split with the other person, I always do this.
Paddleboards, on the other hand, is $25 for one hour and $15 for every additional hour. Also, you can get free lessons with either if you’ve never done both.
This is one of the biggest reasons why Lake Pleasant makes it a fun place to explore. There’s a $7 admission fee/permit to enjoy the park. I went hiking here a few times and my favorite hike is Yavapai Point Trail (3.0 miles long, 449 feet up, out-and-back route) because it is challenging a bit with a narrow pathway up to the top, which rewards you with overall aerial views of the lake and you can see mountains all around in the distance.
Another cool one I like is Pipeline Canyon Trail (3.8 miles, 515 feet up, out-and-back route) because you get to see sweeping views of the lake too, you’ll come face-to-face with a HUGE cactus, and you can walk across a bridge to see a close-up look of the lake water (this was destroyed by a flood the time I saw it – it’s most likely fixed now).
There’s plenty of hikes to find in Lake Pleasant and you can find a list of them on the AllTrails web page here.
You can take a cruise to see more of the lake and the boat seats people on tables with open views on the top with a bar. The sunset cruise was one of my most favorite cruises I’ve taken so far, mainly because it’s… a sunset cruise (hello, who doesn’t LOVE watching the sun set?). The cruise takes you around most of the lake for two hours (that is plenty of and a perfect time).
You’ll find cacti everywhere on the hills and mountains. The sunset out here in Arizona is gorgeous from any time it sets and you’ll catch it change colors from purple to orange, blue to orange, and purple and pink. Once it hits night time as the sunset goes down, you get a remarkable night sky with bright stars. You can do stargazing then!
Lake Pleasant Cruises does public cruises (DJ party, music, narration tour, and dinner types of cruises) and private charters. You can head over to the Lake Pleasant Cruises site to get a schedule of what event they will have coming up on their boat and the option to book a cruise.
Other things to do
I’m not kidding when Lake Pleasant has so many activities available for you, your family, and your friends. Here are the other things to do there:
- Camping – Yep, you can pitch a tent in one of the designated camping grounds in the park. There’s also RV camping. The sites consist of picnic tables, barbecue grills, and fire rings. Make sure to reserve for campsites!
- Swimming – Of course you can swim in the lake! There are recommended spots to go find a swimming spot. You would have to drive all the way down to Desert Tortoise Rd and then have access to the water from your left or right. These should be protected areas away from the powerboats.
- Scuba diving – This honestly surprised me. I had NO clue there was a scuba diving option here until I came across some searches on Google. In fact, according to Maricopa County Parks, Lake Pleasant Regional Park is one of the best in the southwest for scuba diving. Just because you’re not by an ocean does NOT mean you can’t have the option to do things like this here. The lake has 10,000 acres of water and when the lake reaches full surface levels, it can reach depths of 260 feet!
- Fishing – As mentioned before, there is plentiful of bass to find in the lake and it is probably the only spot to find white bass in Arizona. The lake also hosts fishing tournaments throughout the year. Of course, a fishing license is a must.
- Other activities – Picnicking, stargazing, and boating are options too. For boating, there are two boat launching ramps, a 4-lane one and a 10-lane one.
No matter what activity you opt for at Lake Pleasant, you will remember that it’s one of the best places in Central Arizona to experience a nice summer day or any hottt day. I’m thankful they built this recreation hub as it adds more fun to the state of Arizona.