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Theodore Roosevelt Lake Camping Guide

Theodore Roosevelt Lake Camping Guide

When thinking of Arizona, you may not think of water recreation. But, not far from Phoenix, you’ll find Theodore Roosevelt Lake.

If you’re looking for an oasis in the middle of the desert, a place to camp and play in the water, we’ve got one for you!

Let’s dive in!

What is Theodore Roosevelt Lake (and Its History)

Theodore Roosevelt Lake is a reservoir located in central Arizona. The reservoir can reach 21,500 acres in size at its highest volume, thus making it the largest lake fully encompassed within the state.

Theodore Roosevelt Lake was created in 1911 when Theodore Roosevelt Dam was constructed.

Today the dam’s structure is 357 feet high with a crest length of 1,210 feet. Former President Theodore Roosevelt initially dedicated the dam on March 18, 1911. 

The Best Way to Get to Theodore Roosevelt Lake

You will find Theodore Roosevelt Lake approximately 60 miles northeast of Phoenix. The easiest route will be AZ-87 to AZ-188, following AZ-188 south for approximately 33 miles if you’re coming from northern Phoenix.

If you’re coming from southern Phoenix, you may choose to take AZ-60 until you reach the town of Globe. Then, turning North onto AZ 188, continue about 28 miles. 

Where Does Roosevelt Lake Get Its Water?

Roosevelt Lake gets its water from the Salt River and is part of the Salt River Project.

What Kind of Fish are in Roosevelt Lake?

Fishing is a popular recreational activity on the lake. It’s common to catch crappie, carp, sunfish, catfish, and small- and largemouth bass.

By the way, you’ll need an Arizona fishing license to fish public access waters.

Pro Tip: Forget your fishing license? Here’s how to get one at Walmart.

Lower Cliff Dwelling Trail

The Lower Cliff Dwelling Trail is a short but sweet .7 mile out and back trail. Incidentally, you’ll gain 305 feet in this short hike that provides spectacular views of the lake.

The trail is paved and well-maintained, and it’s perfect for bird watching. Those who choose to do the climb will be rewarded with 700-year-old cliff dwellings.

Know Before You Go: This is considered a moderate hike and does have some restrictions. Be sure this trail is right for you before you head out.

Roosevelt Cemetery Trail

The Roosevelt Cemetery Trail is a 2.1 loop that is good for all skill levels. Leashed dogs are welcome on this trail.

The cemetery gives a new appreciation for the dam as it is filled with workers who lost their lives while building the dam.

While the trail is not considered strenuous, it is not paved, and hikers may encounter loose gravel along the way.

The Best Campsites Near Theodore Roosevelt Lake

Windy Hill Campground

Address: The campground is on an unnamed road within the Theodore Roosevelt Lake recreation area with coordinates of Latitude: 33.666696 and Longitude: -111.087959

About the Campground: Windy Hill Campground has a combination of first-come, first-serve sites in addition to sites reservable via

In total, there are a total of 147 sites available for use. All sites are standard non-electric, but there is access to potable water throughout the campground. Campers will enjoy various activities such as a playground, fishing, and hiking.

Price: $25/night (single site) or $50/night (double.) There is a 50% America The Beautiful Interagency Pass discount available.

Pro Tip: Check for campground conditions and restrictions before heading out.

Cholla Campground

Address: Cholla Campground is on an unnamed road within the Theodore Roosevelt Lake recreation area with coordinates of Latitude:  33.73151 and Longitude: -111.203798

About the Campground: The Cholla Campground has 206 standard non-electric sites. The sites are a combination of first-come, first-serve, plus reservable sites via In addition, potable water is available within the campground.

Campers will enjoy activities such as a boat ramp, playground, and fishing. The maximum trailer length is 32 feet. Furthermore, each site at Cholla Campground comes equipped with a ramada, grill, picnic table, and firepit. 

Price: $25/night (single) and $50/night (double.) There’s a 50% America The Beautiful Interagency Pass discount available.

Get Away to Theodore Roosevelt Lake

If you need a break from the hot desert air, Theodore Roosevelt Lake is a refreshing adventure. With two great campgrounds to choose from, you’ll be able to get away from it all.

So, take in the views on a hike and enjoy your time at Theodore Roosevelt Lake. 

If you want to discover the other amazing lakes in Arizona, click the link or watch the video below.

Discover the Best Free Camping Across the USA

To be honest with you, we hate paying for camping. There are so many free campsites in America (with complete privacy).

You should give it a try!

As a matter of fact, these free campsites are yours. Every time you pay federal taxes, you’re contributing to these lands.

Become a FREE CAMPING INSIDER and join the 100,000 campers who love to score the best site! 

We’ll send you the 50 Best Free Campsites in the USA (one per state). Access the list by submitting your email below:

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