Canyon Lake Swimming in Arizona – 5 Spots

canyon lake swimming arizona

Arizona is a desert state in the United States. It has many swimming holes, and there are plenty of hiking opportunities available. Canyon Lake Swimming in Arizona has many people visiting not only to explore the canyon. Visitors also enjoy a day on the water while camping or hiking through the area.

With a multitude of things to do in the state of Arizona, many people often visit and don’t know where to get started. The terrain might feel baron. Additionally, when you do a simple search and check the temperatures, it might not be the most attractive state. However, it has many waterholes; there are plenty of opportunities to cool down.

While it is a large lake, there are many access points to the water, and all these can be used to swim or spend some time on a tube floating down the lake. However, the Canyon Lake AZ Swimming area is only one of the many attractions found in the area. There are also many more activities and experiences that make it a great vacation destination.

The following article aims to give you more information on Canyon Lake in Arizona. We have delved deep to look at some of the activities and natural wonders. Many of these will only be found in this part of the world. The Lake is perfectly situated with plenty of accommodation and AirBnbs around for you to settle in.

Canyon Lake Arizona: A Brief History to Now

Unlike many dams, Canyon Lake was not built, but rather it is a natural lake that has formed over years of collecting water. The lake was formed in 1927 after a dam was built to capture the rainwater coming from the San Jacinto Mountains. Rainwater was used by the local community to ensure there is enough clean water in the town.

While it provided plenty of water to the nearby valleys, the climate meant that it was not always reliable and stable. In 1955, the Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District reached an agreement with the Temscal Water Company. The agreement resulted in the building of a more reliable reservoir. The company also installed fish screens and a water treatment plant. These are to ensure better drinking water was provided to the community.

Later in 1968, the Corona Land Company set out to develop the area. A community was formed around the picturesque lake. The hope was to make it an attractive investment opportunity. By 1990, Canyon Lake formed into a community with a council. All the areas surrounding the lake were under the jurisdiction of the city council.

Nowadays, the lake is still surrounded by some of the most beautiful homes. It remains a gated community, and the Canyon Lake Property Owners Association is responsible for the maintenance and the Levi’s around the area. It has subsequently become a big tourist attraction for those looking to swim in the vast lake.

Canyon Lake Location

Canyon Lake is not hidden by any means, and it lays approximated 15-miles up the Apache Trail, near the Apache Junction. It is approximately 51-miles from the large city of Phoenix, Arizona, and it is within the Superstition Wilderness of the Tonto National Forest. It is one of the most popular locations on the Apache Trail, and many people take a day or even more to explore some of the wonders.

The temperature around the lake is hot, and during the summer months, it can be one of the hottest spots you can visit. However, the lake has many recreational activities and things that one can do to ensure you have a great time. Most visitors on the Apache Trail often make their way to another great lake in the Roosevelt Lake.

lake roosevelt

Canyon Lake Recreational Sites

As you might have noticed, Canyon Lake is one of the closed communities around the state of Arizona. However, it is open to the public year-round, and you don’t need to book ahead of time if you want to make an impulse visit. There are numerous recreational sites available, and each of them offers something different for you to explore and to have some fun. Here are some of the most popular recreational locations and things to do at things to do at canyon lake in AZ.

1. Laguna Lake

Located at Canyon Lake, Laguna Lake is one of the smaller sections that is commonly used for recreational purposes. It forms part of the landscape and allows individuals or families to explore some of the deserts. The location is only a small drive from the large city and offers 1-day passes to anyone looking to visit.

The area is open to individuals and families throughout the year. However, the longest one can stay is one day. It is not a camping site and is rather used for picnics and fishing. However, there is a lot of water that invites people to launch their boats. Keep in mind that the lake has a limited boat capacity, and during the spring and summer months, the boat capacity is often reached quite early on in the day.

laguna lake

Additionally, it is a great fishing spot. Whether you are fishing from the shore or your boat, you are sure to catch something. There are numerous species of trout that are in abundance in the area. The Laguna Lake Picnic spot is one of the best locations for a day vacation and only a short drive to escape the urban rush.

Things to Do:

  • Fishing
  • Boating (motorized and non-motorized)
  • Swimming
  • Picnic

Visitors to this part of the lake will be treated to wonderful scenic views. While you can only spend one day, there are numerous bed and breakfast locations around if you want to come to the lake and spend a couple of days around this location.

2. Acacia Recreation Site

The Acacia Recreational Site is another one of the top spots. It is one of the cheapest options that lets you park close to the water, which makes it a great option when you have a lot of gear. It is around $12 for a day pass, and much like the previous option; you can only stay at the site for a day before leaving before the gates close at night.

Since it is one of the most popular recreational spots, it is no secret that during the summer months, it tends to fill up rapidly. There is only a limited amount of parking, and this amounts to 48 spots. However, when you enter the site, it does not feel crowded.

When speaking of Canyon Lake Beach AZ, many people refer to the Acacia Recreational Site, and while the beach is not sandy like many others we are used to, it is ideal for launching a boat. If you do not have a boat, you can revert to the next best thing, and you will notice that many people prefer tubing down the waterways.

As far as the scenery goes, it has the same desert landscape that many people associate with the state of Arizona. However, the heat will be dimmed by the opportunity for spending some time in the lake and swimming. Keep in mind that when you leave the area, you need to make sure that you follow the “Leave NO Trace” principle.

Things to Do:

  • Tubing
  • Picnic
  • Party
  • Boating(Motorized and non-motorized)
  • Fishing
  • Hiking

The Acacia Recreational Site is by far the most popular. Even though it is a day site, many people make a weekend out of the trip by staying in various accommodations around the area.

3. Canyon Lake Marina and Campground

The Canyon Lake Marina And Campground are not a single camping terrain and feature 48 campsites located up the shore of Canyon Lake. There are around 36 campsites that feature an electric connection point, with 9 sites only being ideal for tents. Since you can camp in the area, you have a little more freedom to settle for a while.

One can spend a few days in one of these locations, and you will be treated to the natural wonder of the Canyon Lake area. It gives you direct access to the water, and many recreational activities are available. Fishing is one of the most prominent with various species of trout being available in the water for anglers.

Swimming and tubing for a big part in the experience, but the quiet nature of the recreational site is one of the main reasons that people tend to visit. While it might be a bit expensive for some, keep in mind that all the funds are used to maintain the parka and ensure that all the amenities are in the best condition for the next visitors.

Things to Do:

  • Fishing
  • Tubing
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Paddleboarding

If you love camping and you don’t want to pay for a day pass every day, the Canyon Lake Marina And Campground are probably some of the best areas to visit. However, we are not sure if boating is allowed nowadays.

4. Palo Verde Recreation Site 147

The Palo Verde Recreation Site 147 might not be one of the most popular sites to enter the lake, but it is one of the best for launching your boat. The area is generally quiet when you visit early in the morning, and you will need to dock up a couple of buck for a day pass. The recreational site is mostly used for launching boats into the lake.

However, you don’t need to have a boat to visit the area, and there are a couple of mini trails that you can visit for hiking. It will reveal even more of the picturesque landscape that the desert holds dear, and you can spend some time fishing. When on the boat, it will be one of the best spots for watersports and skiing if you have the gear.

Things to Do:

  • Boating (Motorized and non-motorized)
  • Picnic
  • Hiking
  • Photography
  • Fishing

As mentioned, the Palo Verde Recreation Site 147 is not one of the popular party locations, but it is a valuable option for those looking to have some peace of mind from the rush of the city. It is easy to gain access and you will be able to have some fun with your boat.

5. Tortilla Campground Recreational Site

Last but certainly not least, you have another opportunity to go camping near Canyon Lake on the Apache Trail. The Tortilla Campground Recreational Site is located closer to the general population of the area and will be across from the Tortilla Flat Restaurant. There is also a general store nearby, which makes it even easier when you need to restock your supplies.

Since it is one of the hottest spots in terms of temperature, it is now a winter camping spot that offers accommodation from October until April. Many of the visitors take advantage of the cooler temperatures to explore some of the trails and to get to know some of the local wildlife species. It is only $20 per site if you want to spend the night, and there is so much that you can do.

Things to Do:

  • Fishing
  • Camping
  • Hiking Wildlife Photography
  • Exploring local culture
  • Boating

The Tortilla Campground Recreational Site might only be available during the winter months, but it is also far cheaper than the other overnight locations in the area. It is a great way to explore Canyon Lake AZ and plan a different trip for the summer months.


Canyon Lake has an abundant history. It also has some of the best scenic locations you can visit when you want to break away from the city. The park is maintained with all the funds from the locals and visitors and it is highly rated as a national park. If Canyon Lake Swimming in AZ is on top of your bucket list, you have to visit one of these spots.

It is hard to determine that one of the recreational or campsites is better than the other, and we would like to encourage you to share some of your thoughts and let us know in the comment section what you think of Canyon Lakes In Arizona. We look forward to reading some of your comments and experiences.

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