Lake Pleasant’s expansive and open and clean body of water is located in the north west part of the Valley in Peoria and Morristown, Arizona.
It is a convenient drive off of Route 17 in Northern Phoenix, approximately 40 miles from downtown. When you get off Route 17 onto Carefree Highway/Route 74, it is a straight shot to the first launch area at Pleasant Harbor in Peoria. There is an entrance gate where you will pay a day fee or stay overnight at the Pleasant Harbor RV resort. They have camping and you can even leave your RV at a site all summer long. For paddling, all summer long!
There are two boat launch areas to drop in and then drive your car to park. The marina offers Dylan’s BBQ restaurant right on the water, and you can watch the boaters and standup paddlers go by. Or stand up paddle there yourself, pull your SUP up on the dock and go have a bite. To get to the marina requires a little bit of a walk from the parking area, but sometimes there are convenient shuttles, and a tip would be recommended. Another great option for great paddling spots are on the west side of the lake. If you travel past Pleasant Harbor on Carefree highway, you will come to the Lake Pleasant Regional Park entrance, there are an enormous amount of options for drop-in’s here. For a convenient parking closer to the water, drop in at Fishermens cove is easy. (*Note: This area is part of the Maricopa park system, so there is a fee at the entrance, as well) Sailing at this lake is a nice sight to see, as there is plenty of open water, and it normally can be quite windy. (*TIP: when SUPn at night, always have lights on the front and back of your board. If crowded on the lake, stay close to shore as you may not be visible to the bigger boats, and it is a good idea to take precaution.) The park provides scheduled events for water exploration led by one of the local knowledgeable park rangers. In July, Lake Pleasant has an annual firework display and come springtime in April there is the Paddlefest event which consists of plenty of vendors that provide demos and a lot of enjoyable lake experiences. (*TIP: Arrive early for this event, parking typically gets crowded.) Using your standup paddle board as a little island to jump on and off of here is a lovely option, there are plentiful coves, and in the northern area of the lake there is a protected area where the bald eagles nest. Sometimes the rangers will do expeditions going toward the Aqua Fria river, where the water comes in from the Lower Colorado River. The coves at the lake offer a great kayak and SUP fishing for those anglers. The smaller crafts allow the opportunity to get back into those tighter shallow water locations a boat can’t reach. Written by: Suzi DeMaio-Parmentier