The Ultimate Canyon Lake Camping Guide
Arizona’s Canyon Lake isn’t to be overlooked despite its smaller size.
Today we want to share how Canyon Lake offers all the same amenities of larger lakes and then some. So keep reading to find out why we love it, and think you will too.
Let’s dive in!
What is Canyon Lake (and Its History)
Canyon Lake is the smallest of the four reservoirs along the Salt River. It was initially created after the Mormon Flat Dam was finished in 1925. The lake’s proximity to Phoenix (about 50 miles east) makes it a popular day trip for Phoenix residents.
Water activities such as boating, swimming, fishing, and even scuba diving are popular at Canyon Lake. Though the area offers more than just water sports, hiking is another popular activity around the lake.
The Best Way to Get There
If traveling from Mesa, take U.S. 60 to exit #196. Next, follow State Highway 88 north for approximately 15 miles. Then the park will be located on your left.
Know Before You Go: Each vehicle and watercraft will require the Tonto National Forest Pass for entry.
Popular Hikes Near Canyon Lake
If watersports aren’t your thing, you’re in luck. Canyon Lake also offers generous views and hiking adventures.
Boulder Canyon Trail
With just under 2000 feet in elevation gain, Boulder Canyon Trail is not for novice hikers. This 8.7-mile out-and-back trail is considered hard by many hikers. Although the climb is challenging, the views are rewarding. The wide and well-marked trail will certainly help you connect with nature in its purest form. But, bring plenty of water. Be on the lookout for desert wildlife, and you’ll surely have a great time!
Pro Tip: Boulder Canyon Trail continues and connects with multiple additional trails. So you can extend your hike or potentially get lost. Make sure you have a map!
Canyon Lake Trail
Canyon Lake Trail is a great option if you’re looking for a moderate but long out-and-back trail. At 14.5 miles and almost 2700 feet in elevation gain, you’ll get a great workout. On the other hand, if you’re not comfortable covering this distance on foot, the Forest Service permits horse use on the trail. This is a popular trail that’s moderately trafficked and should be done from September to May for optimal conditions.
Know Before You Go: Bring plenty of water for the weather conditions as there is no fresh water supply on Canyon Lake Trail.
The Best Campsite
Not only does Canyon Lake offer a plethora of watersports and hiking, but camping is available as well. Being close to the lake is important to make the best use of your time, and there is a great option.
Address: 16802 NE Highway 88, Tortilla Flat, AZ 85219
About the Campground: With nine tent sites and 36 RV sites, this campground will surely meet your camping needs. Each campsite includes a fire ring, grill, and picnic table. RVers should be aware and plan accordingly since there is no dump station on site. What’s more, the marina permits camping on the lake in your boat.
Price: Prices vary depending on the camping situation. Back-in RV sites with 30 amp are $60/night. Pull-through RV sites with 30/50 amp are $65/night. Site “C” special pricing is $65, hillside tent sites are $35, and waterfront tent sites are $40 per night.
Canyon Lake Camping Adventure
Whether you’re looking to spend a day hiking or an entire weekend camping on the water, consider Canyon Lake. With plenty of adventure to be found, your family will certainly ask to return and explore again.
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