The aptly named Saguaro Lake is a beautiful body of water created by the damming of the lower half of the Salt River. This has created a large body of water, approximately five miles by five miles in size with towering cliffs and rock formations surrounding it. As I skimmed the shoreline I noticed several different little ecosystems. There were of course desert rocky mountain crags, but there was also, much to my surprise, marshland brimming with cattails, and along the Salt River large clusters of deciduous trees.
Navigating across the lake you will find several small slot canyons on the southeastern side (you have to be careful not to miss them, they all look like they go no where but you will be surprised). The shoreline seemed to have a great blue heron every 100 yards, as well as many other species of water birds I could not positively identify. There were obviously many fish in the lake, though carp were the only ones I personally saw. As you might have expected, this lake is extremely popular with power boaters from the Phoenix area.
When I first launched in the morning on a Saturday it was clear and calm on the water. Two hours later as I decided to head back I realized that I was in for an adventure as there must have been seventy large engine powerboats seemingly determined to hit me with wakes at every turn. This being said, it was still a very enjoyable trip, and if you are looking to paddle a desert lake with beautiful rock formations you should definitely take a day trip to Saguaro Lake.
There is a large marina with a boating store, paved boat ramps, parking, and restrooms. There were also campgrounds and picnic areas on site.
There is a $6.00 parking fee for the day.
From Phoenix, take HWY 87 north to the Bush Highway turn off, then turn south until hitting Saguaro lake road. Turn left onto this road and follow the signs for about 2-3 miles until hitting the marina.