Canyon Lake, Arizona, USA

Welcome to the ultimate guide to Canyon Lake — things to do, where to stay, fun facts, history, stats and more. Let’s dive in!

Topics we cover in this article:

Looking for Canyon Lake cabins or other accommodations? Save time and use this interactive map to find, compare and book at the best rates. Or explore our comprehensive list of favorite travel partners.

All About Canyon Lake

Within the wild and rugged Arizona Superstition Wilderness lies the awe-inspiring beauty of Canyon Lake. The lake and wilderness are part of the vast Tonto National Forest, the fifth largest forest in the United States. The forest features breathtaking sights of pine forested mountains, cacti-covered desert, winding rivers and streams, and refreshing lakes teeming with fish. In the Canyon Lake area, wildlife lovers will see plentiful species of birds, including eagles, Big Horn sheep, deer, and javelina, those small, hairy animals that resemble the pig family.

Canyon Lake was created in 1925 by the construction of the Mormon Flat Dam on the 200-mile Salt River. From the efforts of the Salt River Valley Association and the Salt River Project sprang a chain of lakes 60 miles long used for reliable water supply, irrigation, flood control, and hydro-electricity. Canyon Lake is the third and smallest of the chain. Apache Lake, Roosevelt Lake, and Saguaro Lake are the other three. Made possible by President Roosevelt’s signing of the National Reclamation Act, the lakes became popular destinations for exciting recreational opportunities. They feature full service facilities, options for camping, great fishing, hiking, wildlife viewing, and boating.

Surrounded by a landscape of desert flora, striking rock formations, and romantic coves at every turn, Canyon Lake presents 950 acres of beauty and enjoyment. It has a designated swimming site and several service amenities. Although it is situated within the pristine wilderness, you will also have easy access to boat rentals, fishing supplies, restrooms, and great dining. The lake offers a diverse range of water sports. Satisfy your need for speed with jet skiing and water skiing, or plough the water in a canoe or kayak. For avid anglers, a bountiful fishery awaits you. Cast your hook and reel in walleye, largemouth bass, bluegill, carp, crappie, yellow bass, rainbow trout, and channel catfish.

Canyon Lake’s shoreline runs for 28 miles. Take a tour around the lake on your raft floating between stunning cliffs and past stretches of the Sonoran Desert landscape. Or stimulate your senses on a steamboat cruise as you admire the red rock canyon walls that rise steeply out of the water.

Hidden treasures await you when you explore the surrounding terrain on foot. Fish Creek is a spring canyon not far from the lake, flowing from the heart of the mountains. The stream offers a range of adventures from mild hiking to arduous rock climbing. The Apache Trail (or AZ 88) flanks Canyon Lake and will take you through fascinating vistas and points of interest from the eastern tip of the Greater Phoenix Metropolitan area to the Lost Dutchman State Park, through the Superstitious Wilderness and Tonto National Forest, to the former copper mining town of Globe. Embark on your own journeys and adventures with the mysterious Superstition Mountains looming beyond, with its lore and legends replaying in your mind. Consider the mystery of the land as you hear stories of the Apaches’ entrance to the lower world or of the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine. By car, Canyon Lake is less than an hour from Phoenix, Arizona’s capital and largest city. There you will find state-of-the-art attractions having the taste, flair and urban appeal of a famous metropolitan.

Canyon Lake occupies what was a favorite destination of President Theodore Roosevelt who said of the area that it combined “the grandeur of the Alps, the glory of the Rockies, the magnificence of the Grand Canyon and then adds an indefinable something that none of the others have.” At the picturesque and starkly beautiful Canyon Lake, revel in unforgettable moments that you will hold dear for a lifetime.

Things to Do at Canyon Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Jet Skiing
  • Water Skiing
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Rock Climbing
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Park
  • National Forest

Fish Species Found at Canyon Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Carp
  • Catfish
  • Channel Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Perch
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Sunfish
  • Trout
  • Walleye
  • Yellow Bass

Find Places to Stay at Canyon Lake

If you’re considering a Canyon Lake lake house rental or hotel, we’ve made it super easy to find the best rates and compare vacation accommodations at a glance. Save time using this interactive map below.

Recommended Sites to Book a Canyon Lake Vacation

If you want to take a deeper dive to find waterfront lake cabins, cottages, condos, hotels or resorts, check out our favorite Canyon Lake lodging partners.

  • VRBO – Use VRBO to find the perfect lake rental home, condo, cabin, cottage or other vacation property.
  • – One of the world’s leading digital travel companies, connects travelers to everything from cozy B&Bs to luxury resorts.
  • Expedia – Expedia is a popular online travel agency with more than 140,000 lodging properties worldwide.
  • – With more than 325,000 hotels in 19,000-plus locations, is an industry leader in online accommodations.
  • TripAdvisor – Read traveler reviews and compare prices on hotels, vacation rentals and more at TripAdvisor.
  • Trivago – Trivago helps travelers compare deals for hotels and other accommodations from a variety of booking sites.
  • KAYAK – KAYAK scours hundreds of other travel websites at once to find the best deals on hotels and other travel-related services.
  • RVshare –RVshare connects travelers interested in renting a motorhome with owners who have RVs to rent.
  • CampSpot – Campspot offers premier RV resorts, family campgrounds, cabins and glamping options across North America.

Note: These are affiliate links so we may earn a small commission if you book through them. While there is no extra cost to you, it helps provide resources to keep our site running (thank you)! You can read our full disclosure policy here.

Canyon Lake Statistics & Helpful Links


Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: Salt River Project

Surface Area: 950 acres

Shoreline Length: 28 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,660 feet

Maximum Depth: 131 feet

Water Volume: 57,852 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1925

We strive to keep the information on LakeLubbers as accurate as possible. However, if you’ve found something in this article that needs updating, we’d certainly love to hear from you! Please fill out our Content Correction form.

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Captain / First Mate Custom 20 oz Tumbler

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Personalized My Boat My Rules Unisex T-Shirt

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On Lake Time Custom Coffee Mug – 11oz or 15oz


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