Martinez Lake, Arizona, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Southwest - Arizona - West Coast -

Also known as:  Lake Martinez

Located 35 miles north of Yuma in Arizona’s West Coast Region, Martinez Lake is a 640-acre freshwater lake that was created in 1955 as a fishing camp. Controlled by the Bureau of Reclamation, it is now a year-round resort that welcomes winter snowbirds, sightseers, fishermen, boaters, water skiers, and hunters. Martinez Lake is part of the Imperial Reservoir, which was completed in 1935 with the construction of the Imperial Dam on the Colorado River. Lake Martinez is one of the many lakes along this route; other lakes include Lake Powell, Lake Mead, Lake Mojave, and Lake Havasu.

The Imperial Dam is part of the All-American Canal System, located in southeastern California, consisting of the 80-mile-long All-American Canal and the 123-mile-long Coachella Canal. Water diversions from the Colorado River at Imperial Dam provide irrigation water for nearly 600,000 acres of land in the Imperial and Coachella Valleys. The Imperial Irrigation District has constructed small hydroelectric power plants along the canal to provide electricity throughout the area.

With an average depth of 10 feet, Martinez Lake is ideal for fishing, boating, swimming, water skiing, and jet skiing. Anglers should expect to catch largemouth bass, catfish, bluegill, crappie, tilapia, whiskerfish, and striped bass. There are jetties and docks in the lake creating a bass fisherman’s dream; flooded flats, tree branches and stumps provide additional fish habitat. Cabins and vacation homes along the shore have spectacular views of the lake and surrounding desert, making it a wonderful place to relax and while-away the day.

Located just to the north of Martinez Lake is the Imperial Wildlife Refuge, a 55,000-acre refuge that fronts both sides of the Colorado River for almost 35 miles. As a stopping point for migratory birds, the refuge is home to 235 species of all types of birds. Other wildlife includes deer, big horn sheep, wild horses, wild burros, coyotes, raccoons, fox, beaver, muskrat, and bobcats. Activities in the area include canoe and boat rentals on Martinez Lake, historic boat trips on the Yuma River, hunting for quail, duck, geese, and deer, and a day at Picacho Peak State Park. Spend the day at Picacho hiking through the desert or visiting the exhibits and gift shop at the visitor center. Facilities include picnic areas, ramadas, grills, campsites, restrooms, showers, and historical markers along the trails.

There are two seasons in this part of Arizona: the high water period from spring through Thanksgiving, and the low water period from November to spring. While Martinez Lake is considered an oasis in the middle of the desert, there are other smaller lakes nearby including Hidden Shores, Ice Box, and Bullet Hole. All may be a bit crowded during the high water season, so call ahead for reservations in any vacation home or lodging.

While visiting Martinez Lake don’t forget to visit Yuma, the winter vegetable capital of the United States. Yuma is close to Kofa and Cibola national wildlife refuges and the Imperial Sand Dunes, the largest mass of sand dunes in the state. The dunes extend for more than 40 miles in a band averaging 5 miles wide. Yuma has a restored riverfront featuring the Yuma Territorial Prison State Park where you can walk through stone cell blocks like the prisoners of the old west, and the Yuma Quartermaster Depot where forts were resupplied in the Southwest.

With several launch sites on Martinez Lake, it is the ideal place to bring your boat for a day of fishing, waterskiing, or just hanging out. The lake, which is well developed with vacation rentals, restaurants, stores, and campgrounds, offers leisure boat rentals, tours, and river trips.

Things to do at Martinez Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Jet Skiing
  • Water Skiing
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Park

Fish species found at Martinez Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Striped Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Tilapia

Martinez Lake Photo Gallery

    Martinez Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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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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