Get Beached in Arizona

By: Elena Acoba

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June 5, 2014

Believe it or not, the entire state has beaches where you can land-lounge or launch into water adventures.

About the author

Elena Acoba

Elena Acoba

Since moving to Tucson in 1988, freelance writer Elena Acoba has enjoyed traveling to the four corners of Arizona. Her favorites spots in her adopted state: the natural wonders and the rich historical sights.

Sure, the old saw is that there’s plenty of “beach” in Arizona, just no ocean. 

In reality, cozy beaches all over the state provide a lot of cool recreation. Enjoy riverside and lakeside camping, picnicking, sunning and relaxing. Get easy access to swimming and other water sports along Arizona’s beaches, where sand doesn’t burn your feet and you don’t have to watch for jellyfish and seaweed.

Arizona’s West Coast

Sloping beaches into the Colorado River open up a world of boating, swimming, jet skiing and other water sports. Or hang out on land for other sun-loving recreation.

Three state parks hug the river’s bend between Parker and Lake Havasu City. River Island State Park’s 37 campsites have easy access to a cove’s sandy beach. There’s also a boat launch and trailhead. 

The beachy strip at Cattail Cove State Park leads to a protected swimming area. There’s also a dog beach at this park with 61 slots for camping and a boat launch. 

Twelve of the 47 campsites at sprawling Lake Havasu State Park are on the white-sand beach, which provides access to swimming and launches for personal water craft.

Hang out for the day at beach parks along Lake Havasu. Rotary Beach has six sand volleyball courts, bocce ball courts, ramadas and a swim area. London Bridge Beach offers a view of that historic English span, plus a beach volleyball court, a dog park, ramadas and open swimming.

Gateway Park, a jewel in Yuma’s downtown revival, provides restrooms and ramadas for Centennial Beach and a new, smaller beach. Both are used for swimming and picnicking. It’s also where river tubers put in for a float down the Colorado.

Northern Arizona

Big adventures await along the northern portion of Arizona’s Colorado River. The recommended way to get to the Grand Canyon National Park’s numerous beaches is by hiking down for a several-day adventure. Rafting tours use them for overnight camping. 

Getting to Havasu Falls on Havasupai land requires a moderate to difficult hike into Havasu Canyon, but what a pay-off. The wide beach rings a crystal-blue pool fed by 100-foot waterfalls. 

Mountain snowmelt gently laps on the beach at Lyman Lake State Park, an irrigation reservoir along the Little Colorado River near St. Johns. It provides access to the protected swimming area.

Tucson and Southern Arizona

The beach leading to the buoyed swim area at Patagonia Lake State Park in Patagonia is small, but soft and sandy. A group ramada and nearby trees provide shade.

There are many sandy ways to access Roper Lake in Safford for fishing or putting in a sailboat or canoe. The swim beach is along the day use “island” that juts into the lake. After an invigorating day, refresh in Roper Lake’s natural springs hot tub.

Phoenix and Central Arizona

Arizona’s Pebble Beach, 20 miles northeast of Mesa, is a popular spot to start or finish a tubing trip down the Salt River. The Tonto National Forest site also is a good place for a picnic.

Locals love Butcher Jones Beach 19 miles east of Fountain Hills. The wide swath is at the trailhead of Butcher Jones Trail that skirts Saguaro Lake. It’s a prime stop for picnicking, swimming, sunning and enjoying the lake views.

North Central Arizona

Formed by a dam on the Salt River, Theodore Roosevelt Lake has miles of beaches where you can set up camp or dive in for a swim. Arizona’s third largest manmade lake has room for fishing, boating and waterskiing.

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