May 2007

Canyon Lake — Small, But Fun

By Mary Young

Canyon Lake is the smallest in a chain of lakes created by damming up the Salt River east of Phoenix in 1923. Tortilla Creek and Boulder Creek also flow into the lake and can create raging torrents after major storms. They also create beautiful waterfalls.

Canyon Lake has a designated swimming site, two boat ramps and three recreational sites: Acacia Picnic, Verde Recreation and Boulder Recreation Sites. They are all open year-round at no charge.

The lake stands at 1,600 feet elevation in central Arizona, so it will be warm to hot in summers and mild in winters.

The Canyon Lake Marina and Campground is also open year round, providing many services and a beach area. Popular Tortilla Campground is just two miles from the lake and has 77 spaces with water and sewer hookups.

There is a fee for using this area, and it is only open October through April.

Boat rental is available at the lake but has a number of restrictions. No animals, barbecues or glass containers are allowed on rental boats, and reservations begin no later than 9 a. m.

Full and half-day rentals are available on runabouts and pontoon boats only. Call for information about overnight rentals, (480) 986-0969.

Expect to catch rainbow trout, bass, catfish, walleye, largemouth bass, yellow bass, crappie and bluegill. Stocking sites are Palo Verde or Laguna Site and Boulder Cove.

Canyon Lake is northeast of Phoenix. Take Highway 60 to Apache Junction, turn north on Idaho Rd. to the Apache Trail (Hwy 88). Go 16 miles northeast just past the second one-lane bridge. Turn left into the Canyon Lake Marina parking lot or right into the shore-fishing area. The road is paved all the way.

For more information call (602) 944-6504 or visit or

Find more great places to boat and fish in Arizona in Mary Young’s book “Arizona Waterways,” a pocket guide to boating and fishing in Arizona. It is available from, Barnes and Noble or visit for retailers near you.