Yes, we have lakes in Arizona (okay, maybe they’re man-made…but hey, we’ve got to store water somehow in this desert)! This week, I’m talking about Bartlett Lake, a lake just on the outskirts of North Scottsdale that self-identifies as Arizona’s best kept secret.
We had an interesting adventure of sorts to the lake– my husband rode his road bike and I took Chalupa Batman (Vixen ran away and hid when I mentioned a car ride) in my car and drove out there where we met my husband halfway through his 60 some odd-mile bike ride. Chalupa was loving playing in the water even though I kept him on a leash due to there being a good amount of people around even at the early hour of 7:30am.
Boaters, jet skiers, and paddle boarders were already showing up to prep for a day on the lake in hopes of making the 110 degree day seem less exhausting. If you don’t have a boat or other water toy, you can rent boats, jet skis, wakeboard, or even a 2-story 45-foot party boat that holds 20 (and has a slide!). If you rent the party boat and then spend the day drinking on it, I’d highly encourage also planning to camp at Bartlett Lake that night so you don’t drink and drive. You can call Tonto National Forest to get info on camping at Bartlett Lake.
Bartlett Lake also offers fishing opportunities and a boat club for those ecstatic about boating. Boat slips are offered for a monthly fee as well and are either covered or uncovered, a slip, or dry storage.
It’s really hard to believe that you’re driving along in a very desert area and then taking a right onto Bartlett Dam Road uncovers a scenic and beautiful lake full of people enjoying activities. It’s also apparently a popular spot for cyclists and motorcycles seeing that it’s a road that winds its way for 14 miles and has an elevation change of over 4,000 feet.
According to their website, Bartlett Lake is fed by a 7,500 square mile watershed that begins just south of Flagstaff, goes east to Payson and the Mogollon Rim and west to near Prescott. The runoff goes into the Verde River, Oak Creek Canyon, and the East Verde. The Verde then goes into Horseshoe Lake and is then transferred into Bartlett Lake. When full, Bartlett Lake covers 2,815 acres and holds nearly 180,000 acres of feet of water. Of the lakes near the Phoenix area, Bartlett Lake is the second largest behind Lake Pleasant and is 2.5 times larger than Saguaro Lake (1,280 surface acres) and also 3 times larger than Canyon Lake (980 surface acres).