Blue Ridge Reservoir
Most of the population in beautiful Arizona understand summer is a great time to travel north to experience a little respite from the triple digits near Phoenix, The Valley of the Sun. Blue Ridge Reservoir (C.C. Cragin Reservoir) happens to be one of those fascinating and unusual places to cool off in. It is located close to the Mogollon Rim, approximately 65 miles south of Flagstaff, and 46 miles north of Payson, on a well-maintained graveled road. With the nearest towns being Clint Wells and Happy Jack, this body of water is operated by the Mogollon Rim District and maintained by the Coconino National Forest. The Lake is 70 acres, has a very unique shape that branches into two separate serpentine arms, and is quite narrow in some places. In the wintertime, FR 751 and the reservoir are closed.
Because this reservoir is somewhat remote, you will not find crowds here. Therefore, this is quite a peaceful place to standup paddle. Boat wake is to a minimum, with a limit to 10 HP. The very narrow boat ramp area is a good place to launch. Drive your boards down to the water’s edge, and then park in the lot, and walk down.
(*TIP: Because the boat launch is quite small, be mindful and courteous of others trying to get to the water, as well. And when visiting this lake, have all that you need gathered beforehand, as there is no general store or any store in the area, if you have forgotten something.)
Kayak and SUP Paddle Board Rentals
Riverbound Sports can supply all the equipment you need to get on the water starting at $40 a day. We are not located at Blue Ridge Reservoir, but If you are coming from the Phoenix area, be sure to stop in and pickup a kayak or paddle board for this beautiful place to paddle in Arizona.
With mostly glass like conditions and after a delightful paddle around, if willing to do a little climbing up the massive limestone boulders, you can be waterfront on your own rock ledge, enjoying the surrounding, abundant pines and evergreens. Just tether your SUPs to something sturdy, and savor in the thick, quiet forest. These select areas make for a great overnight, but there are no places to pull off on this body of water. Therefore, some climbing skills will be needed if you plan to explore, and also a way of securing your SUP. Unless you are gifted with great strength and happily plan on hoisting it vertically up a good distance. (This is a great time to have a low volume board.) Any rock ledges that you have the pleasure of obtaining are quite private, so you will not be experiencing any neighbors. Just perhaps maybe who you see or hear far across the water. This is all dependent on water levels of course.
(*TIP: As with many Arizona lakes, calling ahead to check water levels is always a good idea before embarking on a road trip. In very severe drought seasons when the water level drops drastically, you will see a huge increased layer of rock, making for low water levels. Also make certain thunderstorms are not in the forecast. This area is susceptible to wildfires, if any trees get struck by lightning.)