10 Best Kayaking Destinations In Arizona


As a landlocked and desert state, one might instantly assume that Arizona is not a great place for kayaking. Surprisingly, this is not the case. It offers plenty of outdoor adventures, including paddling trips in some of its scenic lakes and rivers.

Thinking of where to go kayaking in Arizona? Read on and learn from some of our recommendations.

1. Blue Ridge Reservoir

If you are looking for a scenic place for kayaking, one of the best options in Arizona is the Blue Ridge Reservoir. It has an elevation of 6,700 feet above the ground, which makes it offer unmatched views of the forest and the canyon walls.

More than the landscape, the reservoir is also popular because it is beginner-friendly. This is the best place to bring beginner kayaks and learn the basics of how to paddle a kayak. The narrow and intimate lake is slow-moving. You do not have to worry about roaring rapids. In fact, even with an inflatable kayak, it will be easy to navigate.

2. Lower Salt River

For the best places to kayak in Arizona with scenic backdrops, the Lower Salt River is not to be missed. It is a popular spot amongst locals, so you can expect that it will be crowded, especially during summer.

A part of the Tonto National Forest, Lower Salt River is another destination that is known for being friendly to novices. The water is calm and forgiving, making it a great place to practice different techniques, such as kayak self-rescue.

3. Lone Rock Canyon

Whether you would like to go on your own or take part in a guided kayak tour, this place holds a lot of promise. More than the calm and flat water, this is popular because of the towering massive cliffs that adorn the sides. If you are looking for something more thrilling beyond kayaking, you can also try cliff diving.

If you are a novice, it is best to go in the morning when the water is cool and the weather is warm. For a more picturesque experience, however, it is best to go during sunset.

4. Lake Pleasant

For those who are in Metro Phoenix looking for an accessible place to go kayaking in Arizona, Lake Pleasant is hard to beat. Similar to most of the artificial lakes that you can find in the state, it has canyons and cliffs on its sides.

In total, the lake has an approximate length of 11.5 miles. This is quite a large body of water, so it is no longer surprising that this is a popular choice for people who can spare a couple of days for their kayaking adventure.

5. Big Lake


Located in northeastern Arizona, it is another expansive lake that you might want to include on your list. It is at the base of the White Mountains, which is why you can expect a view that is hard to rival. It is in a quiet remote location, so this is not as crowded as the more popular destinations.

With the massive trout population in the area, this makes a great place for kayak anglers. This is where you can bring your fishing kayak and find a fresh catch of the day. Make sure as well to have a kayak fish finder to make things easier!

6. Lake Powell

It is another expansive lake that should be on your list of the best places to kayak in Arizona. The lake is gifted with 170 miles of water. Meanwhile, the shoreline is 1,900 miles, making it great if you have several days to spare.

When you visit Lake Powell, you can also paddle through some of the most popular sports in the area, which include Antelope Canyon and Lone Rock Canyon.

7. Colorado River

If you are looking for a place in Arizona where you can take your whitewater kayak for a spin, the Colorado River is a good choice. Take note that the river is divided into different sections, each with a separate rating from the American Whitewater’s Scale of River Difficulty. Check it out and make sure it suits your paddling skills.

Some areas are remote. Be sure to master kayak safety tips before heading out.

8. Knoll Lake

Mountain kayaking lakes are popular in Arizona, and Knoll Lake is one of the best places that you should see. It is in a secluded forest that offers a pristine experience and the chance to reconnect with nature while embarking on a kayaking adventure. It is surrounded by ponderosa pines, which makes the setting more beautiful.

In terms of coverage, the lake covers 75 acres while the depth is about 50 feet.

9. Verde River

This place is gaining a reputation as a recreational mecca for locals in Arizona. Aside from kayaking and canoeing, it is also a popular destination for hiking, bird watching, and fishing. The flow is reasonable and calm, especially when you visit during summer.

However, take note that the river conditions here can quickly change. It may start calm, but you’ll never know when it will get tough, so always pay attention to your safety.

10. Tempe Town Lake

It is known as the second most visited public attraction in Arizona, so you can anticipate that it will be crowded and busy, especially in the summertime. The lake has a total length of two miles, which was a result of damming Salt River’s dry parts.

Tempe Town Lake is one of the favorites when it comes to urban town kayaking because of its proximity to the city center. While there are lots of boat rentals, you can also choose to bring your own tandem kayak or touring kayak here.

Globo Surfer Overview

Arizona might be a desert, but this does not mean that there is no option for you to go on a kayaking adventure. As discussed above, you will have several choices when it comes to the best places to kayak in Arizona, many of which are offering unmatched sceneries and diverse wildlife.

More Kayak Reviews:


  1. A place to Paddle in Arizona, Riverbound Sports
  2. Arizona Kayaking Trips, Meetup
Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!