Standup Paddling Stunning Saguaro Lake!
This easily accessible body of water is located on the outskirts of Mesa, in the southeast valley, with direct access from Tempe, Phoenix, Chandler, Scottsdale, Fountain Hills and the surrounding areas. Saguaro lake has 22 fun-filled miles of scenic shoreline, and is a favorite to paddle at sunrise, during the day, or at sunset when the colors on the canyon’s walls become brilliant and golden. This lake is most certainly wonderful to enjoy year round, with cooler temperatures around December, and of course, during summertime, it can be a wonderful place to cool off and have a relaxing day with family or friends. Saguaro Lake is a favorite to enjoy for an invigorating exercise SUP, full-moon paddles, picnicking directly on your board secured up to friends, special occasions, or just a leisurely solo SUP, if that is what you prefer.
There are many places to launch upon entering the main gate, where you will need to display a Tonto National Park pass. These can be bought at the kiosk there, or at a local convenience store or supermarket, which is recommended so you are prepared. (Park passes can also be bought yearly, in case you are excited to come back to this lake all year long.) Launch at one of the boat ramps, if you like to use the dock to drop in easily, and the main parking area continues for about a quarter-mile, to Saguaro Del Norte Recreation Site, where you will find shaded ramadas and other random areas to drop in, at several ‘beach spots’ that hug the parking areas. (*TIP: safety reminder, you must have a PFD to SUP.)
Driving further on Bush Highway, you will come upon Butchers Jones Picnic Site and Swimming Beach. There is a large open beach area, still part of Saguaro Lake, with occasional meandering wild horses! This is a pleasant area to picnic or drop in with larger groups. Also at Butcher Jones, there is an easy to moderate hiking ‘Trail 463’, where you can backpack your iSUP, and hike for approximately 30 minutes (or longer if you choose) to discover a beautiful cove. You can then unload, hand pump your inflatable board, and paddle back. That is a great total body workout!
Kayak and SUP PaddleBoard Rentals
Riverbound Sports can supply all the equipment you need to get on the water starting at $40 a day. Check out our pricing and options for Paddleboard Rentals in Arizona.
Riverbound Sports lake side kayak and stand up paddleboard rentals on select Saturdays at the Butcher Jones Recreation Area. Be sure to check the Riverbound Sports Events Calendar for dates and information. Riverbound Sports is an outfitter under permit by the Tonto National Forest.
Directions from Riverbound Sports
This is an 40-minute drive from the shop. Simply take AZ-202 Loop E University Dr and South Rural Road for about 1.8 Miles then take AZ-87 N to N Bush Hwy in Fort McDowell, Take Exit 199 from AZ-87 N. This should take you around 27 minutes around 27.2 miles. Continue on N Bush Hwy. Drive to Saguaro Del Norte Main Road about 4.8 Miles. Click this link for Google Directions: https://goo.gl/maps/KbmMEo8T2Av Author: Suzi DeMaio-Parmentier
Saguaro Lake FAQ’s
Can you rent kayaks at Saguaro Lake?
Saguaro Lake does not offer kayak or paddleboard rentals onsite. However, during the summer months, Riverbound Sports provides weekend lakeside rentals at Butcher Jones Recreation site for a convenient way to paddle without transporting SUPs or kayaks. Another convenient option year rounds is our easy grab and go pickup options from our shop location. Both hard or inflatable kayak and paddleboard options are available.
How much does it cost to get into Saguaro Lake?
Saguaro lake is in the Tonto national Forest Pass and requires:
Tonto Daily Pass – $8.00 good for a 24 hours from Retailers such as Riverbound Sports.
Onsite kiosk – $12.00 good for 24 hours and available at both the launch ramp and Butcher Jones Recreation Site.
Tonto Discovery Pass – $80.00 are an annual pass sold at Tonto National Forest Offices.
America the Beautiful Annual Passes (Nationals Park Pass) – $80.00
Where to SUP paddleboard in Arizona?
Here is a list of our 5 favorite places to paddle around Phoenix, Arizona.
1. Saguaro Lake – Butcher Jones Recreation
2. Salt River – Saguaro Lake to Granite Reef (Summer Only)
3. Canyon Lake – Boulder Recreation Area
4. Bartlett Lake – Bartlett Lake Flats
5. Lake Pleasant – Fireman’s Cove
Do I need a life jacket on a paddleboard at Saguaro Lake?
The US Coast Guard classifies a paddleboard or kayak as a vessel and requires:
* Adult Paddlers over the age of 12 must have a “USCG-approved Personal Floatation Device (PFD)u0022. Although life jackets are not required to be worn on paddle crafts, a PFD for each person must be carried on the vessel. We suggest for your safety that life jackets be worn at all times.
* Children under the age of 12 years must wear a well fitted life jacket while on the water paddling.
* Safety Leashes are not required to be worn by law but have proven to save lives in conditions that may be found on Saguaro Lake.