Desert Harbor Lake, Arizona, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Southwest - Arizona - Phoenix & Central -

Located in the private community of Desert Harbor, Desert Harbor Lake is just minutes from picturesque Sun City and Phoenix. Part of the Phoenix & Central Arizona Region, the lake is in Peoria, a city that was established in the 1880’s after the completion of the Arizona Canal. William J. Murphy, who had a vision of fertile farmland in the area, went east to bring settlers to this new region of the country. With over 5,000 acres of land being purchased by citizens of Peoria, Illinois, it seemed only fitting to call the town Peoria. Home to over 155,000 residents, it is the ninth largest city in Arizona just minutes northwest of the much larger city of Phoenix.

Originally dug as a one acre lake for migratory birds and wildlife by private owner O. R. Recker, Desert Harbor Lake was sold in the 1970’s as a residential development with 1,000 oversized lots. The lake was expanded to 46 acres. With a maximum depth of 20 feet, Desert Harbor Lake is ideal for leisurely boating (electric motors), sailing, and kayaking/canoeing. Jet skis and swimming, however, are not permitted. Other activities around the lake include biking, hiking, fishing, and picnicking. Anglers should expect to catch tilapia, catfish, Florida hybrid bass, and black crappie. Fishing permits are not needed by waterfront homeowners fishing from their backyards or on the lake in an approved, registered boat with a DH/HOA decal. Fishing from shore is allowed in the two park/picnic areas adjoining the boat ramps but is not allowed in the stream beds or greenbelts.

Other points of interest close to Desert Harbor Lake include Lake Pleasant, the Lake Pleasant Regional Park, White Tank Mountain Regional Park, and the Challenger Space Center of Arizona. Lake Pleasant is a 10,000 acre lake located on the north end of Peoria. It is the state’s second largest lake and offers activities such as camping, boating, sailing, water skiing, jet skiing, fishing, and wildlife viewing. Situated along the shores of the lake is the Lake Pleasant Recreational Park. This county park, which is an oasis in the middle of a desert, offers a boat launch, picnic tables, campsites, hiking trails, swimming, and fishing.

White Tank Mountain Regional Park is a 30,000 acre park in Maricopa County located in the rugged White Tank Mountains south of Desert Harbor Lake. Peeks over 4,000 feet rise out of the desert floor in White Tank offering stunning views of the desert below. Activities in the park include mountain biking, camping, hiking, horseback riding, picnicking, and star gazing. There are 25 miles of excellent shared trails with lengths from 1 mile to 7.9 miles. Overnight backpacking is permitted in designated camping sites but some of the trails to these sites can be difficult to hike. Make sure you are in good shape, have plenty of water, and try not to hike during the summer months. For a more sedate day, head to the Challenger Space Center of Arizona, a working memorial to the astronauts that crashed in 1986 on space shuttle Challenger STS. Affiliated with the Smithsonian Institute, the memorial offers very high quality exhibits in the small town of Peoria. There are educational programs, school camps, stargazing, and the Galaxy Gift Shop.

A stay on Desert Harbor Lake would not be complete without a visit to Phoenix, the largest city in the state and capital of Arizona. The Japanese Friendship Garden, Pioneer and Military Memorial Park, Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park, Shemer Art Center, and Steele Indian School Park are just some of the activities in this city located in the “Valley of the Sun”. The Japanese Frienship Garden features 1,500 tons of rock, 50 varieties of plants, a 12-foot waterfall, a Koi pond, and several flowing streams. For a taste of history, head to the Pioneer and Military Memorial Park to see the avenue of flags, historic cemeteries and houses, and benches for contemplations. A monument to the pioneer families of Arizona, the park honors historical figures such as John T. Alsap, the first mayor of Phoenix. To get a feel for the art and cultural history of the area, check out the Pueblo Grande Museum and the Shemer Art Center. Before driving back to Desert Harbor Lake, stop by the Steele Indian School Park, a 75-acre park with a 2.5-acre lake, amphitheater, 15-acre Entry Garden, and three historic buildings in the middle of the park.

Real estate at Desert Harbor Lake is still available for that winter retreat or retirement home of your dreams. And if you plan on just staying for a short time, vacation rentals are readily available in Peoria and the Desert Harbor area. Desert Harbor Lake is a great home base for visiting the central part of Arizona and all it has to offer.

Things to do at Desert Harbor Lake

  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Jet Skiing
  • Water Skiing
  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Waterfall
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Museum

Fish species found at Desert Harbor Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Crappie
  • Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Tilapia

Desert Harbor Lake Photo Gallery

    Desert Harbor Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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    Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

    Water Level Control: Desert Harbor Homeowners Association

    Surface Area: 46 acres

    Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,167 feet

    Maximum Depth: 20 feet

    Completion Year: 1985

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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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