August 2006

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Lyman Lake

A Nice Getaway For Anglers, Campers

By Margie Anderson

Imagine a big body of water surrounded by the beautiful high desert of northeastern Arizona - a place big enough to ski on, but with a large no-wake area where a fisherman can relax and concentrate on getting a bite. Now put this paradise at an elevation of almost 6,000 feet for cool fall and spring getaways, and you have Lyman Lake.

Lyman Lake is a 1,500 acre reservoir in eastern Arizona, about 15 miles from the border of New Mexico. It is surrounded by Lyman Lake State Park, the first recreational-site park in Arizona.

In summer, the daytime temperatures are usually in the high 80s and low 90s, so it makes a nice break from the low desert heat.

The lake is a bit low right now, but you can still launch a boat, and there is plenty of room to ski and fish. It's the only lake in the area with no motor restrictions. Besides the fishing, there are also some very nice little hikes right by the lake that take you to petroglyphs.

These trails are especially cool because the steep parts are rock stairways, and on one there is a little cave that kids love to go into. The best petroglyph hike is only accessible by boat; ask the ranger about that one when you enter the park.

Fishing is pretty good for catfish and carp, but largemouth bass are a bit scarcer. Bring your stink bait and dough balls. For the carp, your tackle needs to be on the small side because they easily detect the heavy stuff.

For the cats, stouter tackle is okay. There is a mercury advisory for the fish here, so check the Arizona Game and Fish Web site at before eating the fish you catch.

You can also check their weekly fishing report for tips on what's biting and how to catch them.

There is a very small store at the lake with a few drinks, some candy bars, and t-shirts but no gas or groceries. You can stock up in St. Johns or Springerville.

While you're in St.Johns, be sure to visit their museum and don't neglect to go check out the jail and cabins behind the museum. It's fun and it's free.

If you want to try for some trout, Becker Lake is just down the road near Springerville.

Lyman Lake State Park fees are reasonable: five bucks for day use per vehicle. Camping is just $12 per night or $19 with hook-ups.

There are 61 camping units (38 with hook-ups), or you can rent a cabin or a yurt. There are also plenty of picnic areas, grills, etc.
If you want to, you can even camp on the beach. We rented one of their cabins for 50 dollars a night.

The cabins are small, with a tiny front room with a table and chairs, and a back room with a double bed and a set of bunk beds. There is A/C and electric, but you have to do any cooking and/or smoking outside.

The cabins face east, so you can sit on the porch and watch the sun come up over the lake. Wonderful! Restrooms and showers are just a couple of steps away.

You can get to Lyman Lake State Park by heading west on highway 60 from Springerville, then taking the 180-191 turn-off north to the lake. Or, you can take highway 180-191 south from St. Johns.

If you are coming in by way of Show Low, take highway 60 east to the 180-191 turn-off, then head north. For more information about Lyman Lake, call the Lyman Lake State Park at (928) 337-4441.