Lake Pleasant, Arizona, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Southwest - Arizona - North Central -

Also known as:  New Lake Pleasant

One of the finest water recreation areas in Arizona, Lake Pleasant is true to its name – a pleasant oasis in a desert setting. Lake Pleasant’s 9,200 surface acres offer wonderful opportunities for outdoor activities including boating of all types, camping, hiking, and fishing. Although Lake Pleasant is only 20 miles or so outside the Greater Phoenix, Arizona confines, it has a decided aura of remoteness, with the majestic saguaro much in evidence. A visitor has the ability to revel in this outdoor remoteness and still be able to enjoy all the activities found in the City of Phoenix. It’s the best of both worlds.

As part of a private irrigation project, the Waddell Dam was built in the mid-1920s, creating the upper portion of Lake Pleasant. This was a 2150 foot long structure damming up the Agua Fria River. Lake Pleasant was named after the dam’s designer, Carl Pleasant. The purpose was to impound the River’s runoff, plus runoff from the Bradshaw Mountains, for irrigation. The original Lake Pleasant covered some 3000 acres.

The New Waddell Dam was completed in 1992 under the auspices of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation as a foundation of the Central Arizona Project (CAP). The new dam tripled Lake Pleasant’s size, making it the second largest lake (following Lake Roosevelt) within Arizona. The primary purpose of the Dam is to store Colorado River water for CAP. The Dam also stores runoff from the Agua Fria River and provides flood control along the river. As part of CAP, Lake Pleasant is also fed through a canal from Lake Havasu.

The New Waddell Dam is a pump-back system. When demand for water and electricity is high during the summer, water releases from Lake Pleasant produce hydroelectric power that is sold to help repay construction costs. When power rates are lower during the winter, Colorado River water is pumped uphill into Lake Pleasant through the Central Arizona Project aqueduct.

Great boating is a major enjoyment on the gorgeous waters of Lake Pleasant. A fully stocked marina is on the lake, with two large paved public boat launching areas. Everything from ski boats to canoes and kayaks may be rented. Sailboating is the dominant water mode with plenty of scenic canyons and coves to explore. Watersports abound with the warm climate, and boating can be enjoyed over most of Lake Pleasant. Sections of the Lake are unavailable to boating due to the shallows created by fluctuating water levels. For those not having or wanting to rent a boat of their own, there are cruises and boat sightseeing tours offered around Lake Pleasant.

Lake Pleasant Regional Park offers 148 sites for RV and tent camping. Developed sites have electricity, water, a covered picnic table, barbecue grill and fire ring. Semi developed sites have the same except for electricity and water. Restroom and shower facilities are available at both. There are four miles of hiking trails, ranging from .5 mile to 2 miles in length. And for those interested in geocaching, there are over 100 caches in a 10 mile area around the lake.

Fishing is a favorite avocation for many visitors, from shore as well as from a variety of boats. Lake Pleasant is a fine fishing hole. Striped bass, white bass, largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, channel cats, sunfish and talapia are found in the most likely spots. Fishing is open year round except for posted areas. An Arizona fishing license is required.

Desert wildlife viewing and photography are other favorite activities for visitors. Some mammals possibly seen are: mule deer, coyotes, javelinas, kit foxes, and bobcats. In the insect/reptile area you might see scorpions, two or three types of rattlesnake, a gila monster or a tarantula. Roadrunners, gila woodpeckers, gambrel quail, and hummingbirds are just a few of the avaian possibilities.

Lake Pleasant is a great destination for the outdoors person, and a weekend spent there will be long remembered.

Things to do at Lake Pleasant

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding

Fish species found at Lake Pleasant

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Striped Bass
  • Sunfish
  • White Bass

Lake Pleasant Photo Gallery

Lake Pleasant Statistics & Helpful Links

divider

Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

Surface Area: 9,222 acres

Shoreline Length: 114 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,694 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 1,506 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 1,725 feet

Maximum Depth: 126 feet

Water Volume: 688,500 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1992

Drainage Area: 1,459 sq. miles

Spread the word! Share our Lake Pleasant article with your fellow Lake Lubbers!

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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."


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.