your paddlesports destination

Lake Pleasant in Arizona

Trip Overview

Lake Pleasant is a very large and fairly scenic body of water created by an agricultural dam just north of Phoenix, AZ. As with most of Arizona's artificial lakes, steep cliffs and canyons meet the water on all sides. The lake itself is approximately six miles long by four miles wide. The numerous canyons and washes on the outskirts of this lake give it a shoreline of well over a hundred miles though. The mountains surrounding this lake, as well as the numerous islands inside of it make it a very pretty place to paddle on the right day. It is a popular spot for sail and power boaters from Phoenix, making the center of the lake often a very wavy area due to numerous wakes coming off of larger craft.

I personally find this to be somewhat fun, but if you do not you can avoid it by sticking to the shoreline and then retreating into the slot canyons which are on the northeastern side. Overall Lake Pleasant is a large, fun lake which you could paddle for two to three days and still not see all of. If you are like me, stuck in the desert and searching for any hint of big water in Arizona, I would highly recommend the trip.


There are two large campgrounds on site, as well as a general store and an "on water toilet" facility on a pier near the marina (I personally didn't indulge in that particular luxury).


The state park requires five dollars for parking and two dollars per kayak to launch.


Lake Pleasant is located 15 miles west of I-17 (Black Canyon Freeway) on Carefree Highway (State Route 74) 30 miles north of Phoenix.


At the gate where you pay your fee you can buy a Lat/Long lake map for three bucks, it was pretty handy and came waterproofed which I appreciated.

  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Water Type: Flat/Sheltered Water
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip