The Phoenix Metro Area or the Valley of the Sun is a hot, dry, desert. Right? Well, with 3 Rivers and 6 Lakes surrounding the Valley I’d say, Not Exactly!

The “Valley of the Sun”, located in the Central portion of the State of Arizona, is the metropolitan area, centered on the city of Phoenix. It is also called the Phoenix Metro Area or just “The Valley”.

Newcomers to the “Valley” are amazed at the number of boats that they often see being towed along our highways and freeways; and the number of boats parked in peoples driveways. It’s been said that Metro Phoenix has more boats per capita than any other major city in the United States.

The Phoenix Area and the Valley of the Sun receives it’s water from 3 main sources.

The Salt River

The Salt River Project (SRP) is a private company that serves as an electrical utility and one of the water providers for the Phoenix metro area.

The SRP owns and operates four reservoirs along the Salt River east of Phoenix. In order they are; Roosevelt, Apache, Canyon and Saguaro. Even though, the main function of these reservoirs is to serve as water storage for the rapidly growing Phoenix municipal area. The four reservoirs also serve as important valley water recreational centers. The SRP lakes are regularly stocked with fish, and they have campgrounds with boat ramps for fishing and other watersports.

The portion of the Salt River from Stewart Mountain Dam which forms Saguaro Lake to GraniteReef Diversion dam is known as “The Lower Salt River”. This portion of the Salt is a Major recreation location which is heavily “Tubed” in the summer.

The Verde River

The only perennial river in Arizona that still flows from its natural source to its mouth is “The Verde River.” The mouth of the Verde River empties into the Salt river at the Phon Sutton rec area on the “Lower Salt”.

Bartlett Dam was built on the Verde River, by the Salt River Project (SRP) in 1939. It forms Bartlett Lake.

Then during World War II, the Phillips Dodge Corporation built Horseshoe Dam on the Verde River, which was completed in 1945. Horseshoe Dam forms Horseshoe Lake. Both dams are owned and operated today by SRP.

Both of these lakes are regularly stocked with fish, and they also have campgrounds with boat ramps for fishing and other watersports.

Central Arizona Project (CAP) & The Agua Fria River

Another provider of water to the area is the Central Arizona Water Conservation District; which was created in 1971, to provide a means for Arizona to repay the federal government for the cost of the construction of the facility and to manage and operate CAP’s (Central Arizona Project) water flow to the valley and to Tucson.

As the need for more water in Central Arizona increased; the construction of the Central Arizona Project Aqueduct, was started in 1973, to divert water from the Colorado River to Lake Pleasant. Converting Lake Pleasant from an agricultural project filled by the Agua Fria River, into a larger storage reservoir for the Central Arizona Project.

Lake Pleasant is regularly stocked with fish, and it also has campgrounds with boat ramps for fishing and other watersports. Plus with it’s unique history, lake Pleasant is an awesome SCUBA Diving Mecca. (see Lake Pleasant)

Thus, the Phoenix area lakes offer vast, clear surface water created by the main rivers feeding the Phoenix area. Each of the 6 major lakes surrounding the Valley offer an abundance of activities; including SCUBA Diving, fishing, boating, sailing, water skiing, swimming and camping. Some of the lakes even offer RV parks for traveler convenience. Some lakes provide picturesque mountainous scenery, animals, and beautiful desert views, with spectacular wildflowers during the spring.

The canyon walls of Apache, Canyon, & Saguaro Lakes are spectacular. You can even find natural springs flowing along some of their hiking trails. Lake Pleasant even has wild roaming burros. Canyon & Apache Lake have javelina , wild sheep, eagles, deer, and black bear.

If you are an avid fisherman, the “Valley Of The Sun” or “Phoenix Area Lakes”, offer excellent bass fishing. A trophy catch is even possible!

If you are planning on moving to the “Valley Of The Sun” or the Phoenix metro area, And if you are coming from outside of Arizona, you could fly into the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

There are many “Mountain Lakes” in Northern Arizona along what is locally called “Rim Country”. These are stalked with trout from hatcheries operated by the Arizona Game and Fish.


Alamo Lake, Arizona, Close
By, But not A Valley Lake
Apache Lake, Arizona
Bartlett Lake, ArizonaCanyon Lake, Arizona
Horseshoe Lake, ArizonaLake Pleasant, Arizona
Roosevelt Lake, ArizonaSaguaro Lake, Arizona


Salt River Recreation Area
Tubing, Fishing & Wild Horses