Canyon Lake

For a cool respite from the big city, relax at this Salt River reservoir 45 minutes east of Phoenix.

Take in a wealth of recreation at the 900-acre Canyon Lake, where visitors enjoy boating, water skiing, fishing, Jet Skiing and taking scenic hikes around the shore. During the course of a beautiful day outdoors, visitors may see javelina, deer and bighorn sheep on the surrounding red-rock canyon walls.

Play on the Water

A horseback rider is surrounded by water at the base of a lake, framed by trees, cliffs, and a pale sunset.
Salt River (Credit: Micah Adams)

If you’re looking for things to do outdoors, look no further. Canyon Lake Marina & Campground rents watercraft and equipment — everything from pontoons and runabouts to canoes, kayaks and water skis. Anglers can hook rainbow trout (the Arizona Game and Fish Department stocks the lake from November through March), channel catfish, bluegill, crappie, large- and smallmouth bass, and walleye. If you need fishing poles and bait, the marina has that, too, plus the lake offers quieter areas without Jet Skiing. For those who want to relax, there are picnic areas and a large public beach.

Stay & Eat

At Canyon Lake Marina & Campground, you can spend the night in your RV or dock your boat at a short-term slip (both options have water and electric hookups), or snag a waterfront tent site with showers, restrooms, a swimming area and a boat ramp. Nearby Tortilla Flat Campground has 77 single-family campsites, which can accommodate tents, trailers and RVs. If you’d like to take a day off from grilling or picnicking, The Well Done Grill at Canyon Lake has a full bar and plenty of grub to fill you up during your time on shore. The Dolly Steamboat dinner cruises let you admire nature’s beauty. The twilight cruise option reveals Arizona’s mesmerizing sunsets; for a meal under the stars, book the once-a-month astronomy tour.

Area Attractions

Canyon Lake is located along the Apache Scenic Byway (AZ State Route 88), a former Apache Tribal route turned stagecoach road, where cowboys and miners once traveled. Follow the trail to nearby Tortilla Flat, an old Western town and a former stagecoach stop in the middle of Arizona’s Tonto National Forest. Grab your Stetson for drinks at the saloon, get messy eating great barbecue, and add country music and prickly pear ice cream to round out the Southwest experience. Twenty minutes south of Canyon Lake is Lost Dutchman State Park, named after the fabled gold mine. There are more than 100 RV and tent sites, and you won’t want to miss special events at the park such as full-moon hikes, bird walks and live music by the campfire.

For More Information

Tonto National Forest Mesa Ranger Station
5140 East Ingram Street
Mesa, AZ 85205
(480) 610-3300

Visit Destination Website

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