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Lake Powell by An Pham

Arizona’s Water Adventures

By: Nora Burba Trulsson

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Discover the many ways to stay cool while exploring the state.

About the author

Nora Burba Trulsson

Nora Burba Trulsson

Nora Burba Trulsson is a long-time Arizona resident and a freelance writer specializing in travel, food, lifestyle, architecture and design topics. Her articles have appeared in Sunset, Arizona Highways, Vegas Seven,, Valley Guide, Scottsdale Magazine, United Airlines Hemispheres, Westjet's Up!, Renovation Style, Beautiful Homes and other publications and websites. She can be reached through

In Arizona, we love our water! With activities ranging from kayaking and fishing to flyboarding and riding personal watercraft, here are just a few wet mild-to-wild activities you'll find around the state.

Northern Arizona

Get a taste of rafting the mighty Colorado River with a guided, half-day, smooth-water "float" trip courtesy of Wilderness River Adventures. Regardless of which adventure you pick, each trip includes time for local wildlife viewing, brief hiking excursions and some of the best views of the Canyon.

Nearby, the vast, dramatic Lake Powell stretches for miles. Explore its sculptural geology, canyons and inlets by renting a houseboat from Lake Powell Resorts & Marinas or Antelope Point Marina. Even first-time boaters will be able to pilot one of the well-appointed houseboats after a short lesson. Both offer watercraft rentals, several restaurants, hiking, and other activities and amenities to complete your stay.

Two people paddleboarding on a section of the Colorado RiverPaddleboarding on the Colorado River / Credit: City of Page

North Central Arizona

The Verde River winds through the heart of wine country. Near Cottonwood, Sedona Adventure Tours offers its Water to Wine kayaking tour, which combines the area’s favorite fluids. For around $100, you'll spend about an hour and a half kayaking the river, which has enough riffles to keep things interesting, then end up at Alcantara Vineyards for wine tasting. Your tour price includes a credit to purchase wine or other gift shop souvenirs for the trip home.

Upriver, Sedona Fly Fishing Adventures will provide gear, guides and instructions on fishing treks to Oak Creek Canyon or the Verde River, where you can angle for a trout dinner. They fill up fast, so early reservations are highly recommended.

Greater Phoenix and Central Arizona

In Apache Junction, cruise the placid waters of Canyon Lake on the Dolly Steamboat, where you’ll learn about geology, flora and fauna. Keep your eyes peeled for bighorn sheep and eagles. Want to see stars? Join one of the monthly astronomy dinner cruises to learn about the heavens above.

In Tempe, rent a stand-up paddleboard from Tempe Boat Rentals and test your sense of balance as you explore the urban lakes of Lake Kiwanis or Tempe Town Lake. Feeling a little clumsy? Grab a friend and opt for a pedal boat.

A group lounges on the shore of Lake Pleasant, their boat docked near them and the mountains in the backgroundLake Pleasant, Arizona

Near Peoria, Lake Pleasant is home to one of the world’s newest, James Bond-ish water sports, flyboarding, through Pleasant Harbor Boat Rentals. Strap a water jetpack to your feet, which, in turn, is connected by a long hose to a personal watercraft manned by an instructor. With the propulsion on, you can rocket out of the water well over 30 feet, depending on your skill and balance. (This is why GoPros were invented!)

If that's not enough adventure for you, grab a ticket ($25-$27) for H2-Whoa, the world's largest floating waterslide also at Pleasant Harbor Marina.

Southern Arizona

Southern Arizona’s Patagonia Lake State Park is a birder’s paradise, with herons, hummingbirds, egrets, ospreys and hawks flying in for guest appearances. Weekends, fall through spring, you can join a guided avian boat tour to look for feathered friends.

The park also offers rowboat rentals if you want to birdwatch on your own or fish for bass, crappie or bluegill.

Arizona's West Coast

The Colorado River snakes around the state’s western border and provides hundreds of miles of watery fun. Night owls enjoy Western Arizona Canoe & Kayak Outfitter’s monthly, full-moon kayak trips through the geological wonders of the river’s Topock Gorge. The 14-mile paddle, which happens from late spring through early fall, starts and finishes in Lake Havasu City.

Farther south, the Parker Strip is a popular stretch of the river for boating and riding personal watercraft. Arizona WaterSports delivers your personal watercraft to Parker-area riverside campgrounds and beaches, or you can blast off from their dockside locale at Blue Water Resort and Casino.

Outside of Peach Springs, Hualapai River Runners serves up thrills and chills with its one-day Colorado River whitewater rafting treks. The rafting trips, through a part of the Grand Canyon that is within the Hualapai Nation, start with a bus ride down to the Grand Canyon and end with a helicopter ride out.

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