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5 Rivers and Lakes You Can Cruise in Arizona

If you’re planning a trip to Arizona, you’re probably imagining the mountains, the deserts and the beautiful colors that fill the skies and the landscape. Even if you live in Arizona, you’re probably quite accustomed to its dry and arid climate and familiar with its most notable attractions. In the midst of all of this, though, there’s another dimension to Arizona that you might not expect. And perhaps rightfully so. It is a desert region, isn’t it?

Well, “The Natural State” also has some lakes and rivers that you can view from the shoreline or from a boat. Although probably not a focal point for many people, these waterways prove to be quite interesting and offer visitors and residents alike a different way to experience Arizona. You can cruise in Arizona!

But before we begin looking at the lakes and rivers, there’s something to note. Several of the lakes in Arizona are actually man-made reservoirs that were built upon rivers, in particular – the Colorado and Salt rivers. The lakes or reservoirs were formed by building dams along the rivers. This, however, does not make them any less fascinating, beautiful or enjoyable.

Now, let’s take a look at some of them.

Cruise in Arizona on Canyon Lake

Canyon Lake is located in Maricopa County, Arizona. It is one of the four man-made reservoirs that were formed along the Salt River when its dams were built. The lake is about 50 miles east of both Scottsdale and Phoenix. With its beautifully-colored and breathtaking canyon walls, it is one of the most picturesque waterways in Colorado.

You Can Cruise in Arizona

Canyon Lake at Dusk Near Tortilla Flat, Arizona.

By snowpeak (Canyon Lake Uploaded by PDTillman) [CC BY 2.0
(], via Wikimedia Commons

The Dolly Steamboat (link offers scenic nature cruises, lunch and twilight dinner cruises, astronomy and other-themed cruises on Canyon Lake. Prices vary between $20 and up to about $73 per person, depending on the type of cruise. The higher-priced fares include a lunch or dinner meal.

Lake Havasu & The Colorado River

Lake Havasu is a man-made reservoir on the Colorado River. It’s located on the border of California and Arizona. Lake Havasu City, the starting and ending point for some day and evening cruises, is about 200 miles northwest of Phoenix, 155 miles north of Yuma and 300 miles northwest of Tucson.

One of the city’s main tourist attractions is the London Bridge – yes, the actual structure that crossed the River Thames in London until 1967. Pieces of the dismantled bridge were transported from London to Lake Havasu City, Arizona where its three-year reconstruction began in 1968.

Cruises on Lake Havasu are round trip from Lake Havasu City to Topock Gorge on the Colorado River. A few notable points of interest along the river are the Topock Gorge – a beautiful mountainous canyon – and the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge. The Colorado River flows for 20 miles through the Topock Gorge, which is located within the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge.

You Can Cruise in Arizona

Horseshoe Bend on the Colorado River

There are also cruises on the Colorado River from Laughlin, Nevada to Topock Gorge and raft trips on Horseshoe Bend, which is part of Glen Canyon on the Colorado River

Boat Tours:

Bluewater Jet Boat Tours

Enjoy a 50-mile narrated journey from the London Bridge in Lake Havasu City to Topock Gorge. Rates for adults are $45.00 per person for a 3-hour boat tour. Discounts for seniors, children and groups are available. Charters are also offered.

Captain Doyle’s River Excursions

You can take a 2 ½ hour cruise down the Colorado River from Laughlin, Nevada to the Topock Gorge. Rates begin at $50.00 per person. Charter options are also available. Rates are $150.00 for up to 6 people.

There are also half-day raft trips on the Colorado River that depart from Page, Arizona. Rates are $92 for ages 12 and up and $82 for children between the ages of 4 and 11. Rafting trips are available from March through November.

Lake Powell

Lake Powell is a man-made reservoir on the Colorado River located on the border of Utah and Arizona. It was built in 1963 and is 186 miles long. The lake receives inflows from three different rivers – the Colorado, Escalante and San Juan. However, it’s outflow is channeled to only the Colorado River. Lake Powell is one of the largest man-made reservoirs in the United States.

In addition to its impressive size, the lake is a very popular vacation spot. Boating, water sports and fishing are common activities on Lake Powell. Interestingly, you can actually charter a houseboat. And apparently quite a few people do. You’ll find a rather large selection of houseboat options.

A few tourist attractions on or near Lake Powell, include the Rainbow Bridge, Hite Crossing Bridge and Glen Canyon Dam.

Houseboat Rentals:

Scenic Cruise Adventures offers 3- to 7-day houseboat vacation packages. While there are several different options, but the average price per person per day is usually between $50 and $70. Keep in mind that other expenses will also be incurred, such as food and drinks and fuel for the boat.

Saguaro Lake

Saguaro Lake is one of the four man-made reservoirs on the Salt River. It’s only about 10 miles long and is surrounded by hills that rise to an elevation of 1,500 feet. The lake flows through the Tonto National Forest, which is part of the Sonoran Desert. Saguaro Lake is about 45 miles northeast of Phoenix and 20 miles northeast of Mesa, Arizona.

You Can Cruise in Arizona

Saguaro Lake in Tortilla Flat, AZ

Boat Tours:

Desert Belle Cruises – Take a 1 ½ hour cruise on Saguaro Lake. You can sit back and enjoy a narrated tour on this scenic waterways. During your boat ride, you’ll learn about the history, geology, geography and wildlife in the Sonoran Desert near Saguaro Lake.

While there are many things to do in Arizona, a lake or river cruise in Arizona is one of the options that you may not have considered. Even in the midst of its desert landscape, desert skies and arid climate, there’s an adventure that also awaits you on one of the many lakes or rivers in Arizona.

You can visit the author, Lauri Wakefield, on: FacebookTwitter, Google+ and

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