Garden Lakes, Arizona, USA

Also known as:  North Garden Lake, South Garden Lake

Welcome to the ultimate guide for history, statistics, local fun facts and the best things to do at Garden Lakes.

If you’re considering Garden Lakes vacation rentals, we’ve made it super easy to explore accommodations and nearby hotels using the interactive map below. Simply click on a listing to compare similar properties, best rates and availability for your dates. Or keep scrolling to read our Garden Lakes guide!

Garden Lakes visitor and community guide

Lake Locations: USA - Southwest - Arizona - Phoenix & Central -

Can Garden Lakes provide lakefront living in Arizona? Near Phoenix? Yes, it’s entirely possible to find lakefront homes in one of the urban lakes of the Phoenix and Central Region. Garden Lakes in Avondale is one of those lakefront communities. Consisting of the North and South Garden Lakes,the residential developments making up Garden Lakes line the quiet winding streets along the shores. The two lakes provide at total of three-and-a-half miles of lakefront living in the midst of the desert. The lakes did not appear where without man-made help however. This oasis was created by the ingenuity of city engineers attempting to assure a continuous water supply for Phoenix and surrounding cities.

Water sources in central Arizona are meager and carefully nurtured. The Hohokam Native Americans first settled the Salt River Valley around 300 AD. Farming would have been impossible but for the extensive system of hand-dug canals they built along the Gila, Verde and Salt Rivers. The canals dug by the Hohokam served their culture well for hundreds of years. A major drought finally caused the collapse of the culture and the remaining peoples moved on, perhaps as the ancestors of the Pima and Tohono O’odham peoples in Southern Arizona. In 1867, Jack Swilling of Wickenburg recognized the promise in the ruined canals and re-dug some of them to raise crops to sell to the US Army. Soon, a settlement grew around his enterprise which he named Phoenix. Canal building then began in earnest. Today, an extensive system of canals funnel water from the Agua Fria, Verde, Salt, Gila and Colorado rivers for the benefit of area residents. As the water must be treated to become usable, a system of artificial wetlands has been built in Avondale to purify and desalinate the water before treatment. The Garden Lakes developments are just north of that wetland called Crystal Gardens. The water in the lakes is pumped from canals leaving Crystal Gardens.

Water in the North and South Garden Lakes is actually still under treatment; aeration with fountains and the beneficial actions of sunlight and ‘working’ fish such as sterile Amur further cleanse the water. The water in the lakes is not used as drinking water on-site – household water needs are provided by the city water system. The lakes do however provide cooling action, lovely water vistas, small-craft boating and limited fishing to Garden Lakes residents.The South lake, at 19 acres, is the largest urban lake in the area. Slightly smaller, the North lake is 18 acres in surface area. The lakes are stocked with bass, catfish, bluegill, and crappie along with Amur and fishing is permitted to residents only with a permit. Catch and release is strongly encouraged to engender a larger population of bigger fish. Only electric motors are permitted and size restrictions exist for each type of craft. Pontoons are limited to 20 feet or less. No swimming is permitted in the lakes and many homes have swimming pools.

Several developments are constructed around Garden Lakes and not all are waterfront homes. At least two parks are located on each lake for the benefit of back lot residents. Here, off-lake residents can gain access to the water for fishing and boating. Begun in 1987, Garden Lakes is a mature community with many upscale homes managed under restrictive covenants. There are excellent schools and local professional offices located in specified areas of the developments for the benefit of residents. Only a 15 minute commute to downtown Phoenix, Garden Lakes is a highly-desirable residential community.

The advantages of living at Garden Lakes soon become obvious; Phoenix is a fast-growing metropolis with a large employment base. The city is well-supplied with cultural and sports venues and there is always something for everyone in the family to do. Avondale itself has nearly a dozen city parks and civic facilities. The city has easy-access malls and shopping, clear air and beautiful mountain peaks as a backdrop. Two NASCAR races are held annually at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale. Several golf courses serve the city. And the desert is minutes away, in the form of Estrella Mountain Regional Park.

Located only 25 miles from Garden Lakes, Estrella Mountain Regional Park offers hiking and biking trails, guided nature hikes, gold panning, visits to mines, fishing, camping, horseback riding trails, baseball diamonds and a rodeo arena. Park rangers lead interpretive expeditions into the natural areas for all ages. Star gazing here, away from city lights is a spectacular way for children to explore the night sky and learn about our world.

A few short miles east of Garden Lakes, the city of Phoenix holds a wealth of cultural activities to suit all ages of visitor. Heard Museum showcases art, history and culture while the Phoenix Art Museum focuses strictly on art. The Pueblo Grande Museum and Archeological Park offers exhibits highlighting the Hohokam culture in Phoenix’s past and an on-going archeological dig. The University of Arizona Mineral Museum has displays of beautiful and unique mineral exhibits with explanations of how each was formed. Children and adults alike are amazed at the rich colors and unusual shapes these common and semi-precious minerals naturally form. And everyone will enjoy the Arizona Science Center with it’s hands-on exhibits and demonstrations. For sports, the US Airways Center is the home of the Phoenix Suns. Basketball, arena football, and ice hockey are all played at the Center, in addition to concerts, professional wrestling, ice shows, and other events. What fan wouldn’t enjoy the opportunity to see their favorite sports team live only a few minutes from home?

Vacation rentals at Garden Lakes are not common but occasionally residential properties are available for short-term lease. Commercial lodgings are plentiful in the Avondale area, although not usually at Garden Lakes. Real estate is often found in the developments surrounding Garden Lakes. A visit here to check out the area is time well-spent. Come to Garden Lakes and see if lakefront Arizona living is in your future!

Custom Garden Lakes house decor

Read our full review of these personalized lake house signs.

Things to do at Garden Lakes

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Swimming Pool
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Horseback Riding
  • City Park
  • Museum
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Garden Lakes

  • Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Sunfish

Best hotels and vacation rentals at Garden Lakes

The Garden Lakes map shown above is a simple and stress-free way to search for trip accommodations. But if you want to take a deeper dive to find the ideal waterfront home, cabin, condo, hotel or resort, visit our favorite lodging partners by clicking the buttons below.

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Garden Lakes photo gallery

New photos coming soon!

Garden Lakes statistics & helpful links


Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: Vision Management

Surface Area: 37 acres

Shoreline Length: 4 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,017 feet

Average Depth: 12 feet

Completion Year: 1987

Trophic State: Eutrophic

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