Kayaking can be a nice adventure sports and means to bust the stress, for sure. However, you need to find the right place for the activity. Arizona, which is often referred as the desert state may seem unsuited for kayaking- at least initially. However, the landlocked state actually has many amazing lakes, rivers and spots which are ideal for kayaking. These places are replete with amazing natural beauty and the abundant wildlife is like icing on the cake!
Reasons To Indulge In Kayaking In Arizona
Kayaking is a relaxing and enriching experience, anywhere. However, the calm lakes and wildlife laden rivers of Arizona are perfect for kayaking. You can spend a weekend kayaking at these places to rejuvenate your body and mind. This can be ideal when you are bored with spending the weekends at home owing to the lockdown. Most places have options for rentals and there are entities offering guided tours for the beginners.
Best Places For Kayaking In Arizona
It is another huge lake in Arizona that is preferred by kayaking enthusiasts a lot. You will need plenty of time to explore the 170-mile lake. The scenery is amazing and nearby you will find plenty of places to explore. The Labyrinth and Antelope Canyon serves as big crowd pullers. You may actually rent kayaks to explore this beautiful and huge lake. The beginners may also opt for guided excursion tours. There are options for multi-day excursions too.
Lower Salt River
If you are fond of indulging in kayaking in places with amazing scenic beauty, this will be just right. The lush greenery and beautiful hill cliffs make it a photographer’s delight. Lower Salt River, located in the Tonto National Forest- just outside Phoenix, is crowded and serenity seekers will be disappointed. The locals throng the location a lot. The good thing is that the water remains calm. If you are lucky, you will be able to spot desert wildlife too. The wild horses walloping through the lake shore is quite commonplace. The wild mustangs are also spotted often. This place is also known for offering relief from the scorching sun.
The Grand Canyon
Adventure loving and veteran kayaking lovers head to the magnificent Grand Canyon. The Colorado river itself is perfect for water sports and the Grand Canyon adds to the thrill. However, this is not fit for the amateur kayaking lovers. You will need to have Class 4 Whitewater skills to make it. Of course, you can go for the guided kayaking tours. Less adventurous lot may stick to the Colorado River and trip pricing is quite reasonable.
Located in North-eastern Arizona’s White Mountains, this lake is nothing less than a hidden treasure. Spread over 575 acres, this lake is known for its trout population. This is why it is sought after by the angling lovers. The lake is encircled by mountains and a gorgeous forest. It is located at an elevation of 9000 feet. It is perfect for kayaking and gas-based vessels are not allowed. You will benefit from the numerous boat launches scattered around the water body and there are picnic spots too. Even the wildlife lovers will have a gala time here.
The Lake is almost 11.5 miles long and so it is ideal for kayaking anytime. The cliffs and canyons add to the visual splendour. The locals also prefer this lake for spending weekends and holidays in leisurely way. If you want to experience what spending time far from the madding crowd is, this should be your destination! In the Regional Park, you can book spot for primitive camping. The lake has so many coves and small sized islands that will enthral your eyes and mind. Do you love kayak angling? Then you can catch species like catfish and bass in abundance here.
If you would like to kayak in a river and not any artificial reservoir or manmade water body, head for the Verde River. It is not only ideal for kayaking; the river is also a mecca for the bird watchers and angling lovers. If you plan the trip in summer, you are likely to cope with calm water. The natural beauty can be amazing and the bedrock canyons are stunning.
The water depth can vary a lot as you cruise through the river. After 4 miles, you get adequate water depth. However, from time to time, your sailing will be interrupted by beaver dams and shallow riffles, for sure. The wildlife is also amazing. It is not just about diverse fish species. You will see plenty of otters in the river too. In the first 20 miles, you will barely see any human. The tourist railway paralleling the river also adds to the fun. After covering the upper canyon, Verde flows through farms and towns. You will see many bridge crossings, dams, fences etc. You can explore Verde River in spring as the water condition becomes ideal for Whitewater kayaks.
Blue Ridge Reservoir
The place is known for amazing natural bounty and that is soothing on the eyes too. It is located in an elevated place and at 6700 feet, the view is awe inspiring. The large canyon walls and dense pine forests surrounding the reservoir make you feel relaxed at first sight. It makes you feel you are kayaking in a river, literally. The good thing is using motor boats is not allowed in the lake and so you can spend time kayaking without interruption. It is quite the right place for those who are new to kayaking.
Do you need to be cautious while kayaking here? The answer is yes. Despite all the natural charm and calmness of the atmosphere, remember that the lake is 6700 feet deep. So, the beginners must carry required safety gears.
In the Salt River’s lower section, you come across the picturesque and beautiful Saguaro Lake. Created by formation of a dam, it is ideal for those who want to try kayaking for the first time. It is not very large and the lake is roughly 5 square miles. You will see plenty of rock formations and steep cliffs around it. You can’t help admire the variety of avian species as you sail across the calm water of the lake, with blue herons being the most commonplace. On weekends, be prepared to cope with plenty of motorboats spoiling the serenity and calmness of water. On lake shore, there are options for camping and picnic.
Tempe Town lake
This city lake is best suited for amateur kayaking enthusiasts. You get 2 miles of water to explore. Along the shore, you will find a few eateries and there is a bicycling path too. You are not limited to kayaking alone here. There are canoes and dragon boats too. As the Arizona State University is in vicinity, you can expect events to be held here yearlong. The thrill lovers throng the lake for witnessing the fireworks held annually on 4th of July.
Lone Rock Canyon
Located in Western Lake Powell, Lone Rock Canyon is the place veteran kayaking lovers head to! The calm water is ideal to soothe your mind and the views are amazing. If you love thrill, try cliff diving along the canyon’s steep walls. If you are new to the place, opt for the guided kayak tour. The beginners should go to the place at morning but shutterbugs must visit the place at sunset. From Lake Powell through the Lone Rock Beach it takes a short amount of time.
Staying On The Legal Side Is Important
Kayaking in Arizona can be great for stress busting or spending a day or two in the wilderness, away from chaotic urban landscape. However, it is important that you get well versed in the laws. You need to have a PFD with clearance from the US Coast Guard for kayaking in the state. Do not ever think of kayaking in an inebriated state and that may lead to fine and imprisonment.
What About Kayaking In Night Time?
In some lakes and rivers of Arizona, you can take part in night time kayaking. However, you have to abide by the legal norms. In the Tempe Town lake, evening kayaking is allowed but you have to carry required lighting. You will find some agencies offering night kayaking tours at the Salt River. Using glow sticks is the best option.
Arthur G. Moore is a veteran paddler. He has over 10 years of whitewater kayaking experience in his kitty. When he was young, he used to love kayaking in rapid III and rapid IV but as time went on, he decided to concentrate mainly on covering long distances on a standard touring kayak. He is currently working as a senior editor for Kayak Manual.