Apache Lake, Arizona, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Southwest - Arizona - North Central -

Surrounded by the stark and rugged beauty of Central Arizona’s Superstition Wilderness in the Tonto National Forest, Apache Lake is the perfect destination for anyone who enjoys soaking up breathtaking mountain views, watching the local wildlife, hiking, camping, fishing, boating, or other outdoor activities.

Four reservoirs on the Salt River, including Apache Lake, form a chain of lakes almost 60 miles long. In the early part of the 20th century, a series of dams were built on the river as part of the Salt River Project, which, provided flood control and a stable water supply to the Phoenix area. The Project was completed in cooperation between the Salt River Valley Water Users’ Association and the Bureau of Reclamation to provide for electricity generation and water supply.

Apache Lake was created five miles downstream from the much larger Lake Roosevelt with the completion of Horse Mesa Dam in 1927. Filling the bottom of the canyon where it lies, this long and narrow lake is the second largest of the four sister lakes. It is 17 miles long with a 41 mile shoreline and a surface area of 2,568 acres. Boasting complete lake facilities, Apache Lake has been a popular year-round destination for outdoor family fun since its opening.

For those who want to experience all the lake has to offer while still enjoying all the conveniences of modern life, the Apache Lake Marina and Resort is the place to go. The marina is located on and operates under permit from the Tonto National Forest Service. It provides lodging, boat launch and storage sites, boat rentals, fishing and hunting licenses, restaurants, gas, and groceries. There are also areas for RVs and camping.

Apache Lake is perfect for all types of water sports and recreation. Power boats and water skiers are a common sight. Boaters and water skiers should note that some coves are “wake free” areas, and the upper end of the lake is barred to water skiing. If fishing is your passion, the lake frequently hosts angling competitions. Arizona Game and Fish Department stocks Apache Lake with walleye, largemouth and smallmouth bass, redear sunfish, bluegill, channel and flathead catfish, carp, and crappie.

If you’re looking for unspoiled and uncrowded vistas, Apache Lake also has a lot to offer. Apart from the many available camping facilities, photographers, wildlife enthusiasts, and nature lovers will find secluded coves and nearby hiking trails where they can enjoy a sense of solitude as they spot javelina, coyotes, eagles, big horn sheep, deer, and a host of other desert creatures. Visitors should bear in mind that these wilderness areas can be very inhospitable. Freezing cold in winter, the temperatures soar in the summer. The visitor should come well-prepared for harsh conditions.

Apache Lake is surrounded by the Tonto National Forest, the nation’s fifth largest forest. Due to its variation in altitude between 1000 and 7900 feet, the national forest hosts a variety of plants within its almost three million acres. The national forest serves to protect the reservoirs and watersheds sharing its varied terrain. Visitors will need to purchase a park pass to access the Burnt Corral Recreation Site. There are several kinds of passes to cater to your needs and grant access to the many hiking trails and camping areas maintained by the park. The recreation site is open year round and offers boat launching facilities and spaces for trailers less than 17 feet long.

On your way to the lake for a day of fun, you can also take a few hours to drive the 40-mile, scenic Apache Trail. The Apache Lake Marina and Resort is located only a mile from the partially paved road that was built to accommodate the Salt River Project’s dam construction.

Whether you’re planning a short day trip to the water for the family or a long hiking and camping outing, Apache Lake makes an ideal destination.

Things to do at Apache Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Water Skiing
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • National Forest

Fish species found at Apache Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Carp
  • Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Flathead Catfish
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Perch
  • Redear Sunfish (Shellcracker)
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Walleye

Apache Lake Photo Gallery

Apache Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: Salt River Project

Surface Area: 2,568 acres

Shoreline Length: 41 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,914 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 0 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 1,920 feet

Maximum Depth: 240 feet

Water Volume: 245,138 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1927

Drainage Area: 5,842 sq. miles

Trophic State: Mesotrophic

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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