The 7 Best Places For Paddle Boarding In Arizona

With an average annual temperature of 75 degrees, it’s easy to see why stand up paddle boarding in Arizona is such a popular year-round activity. But it’s not just the water sport-friendly weather we love, as the state offers 128 lakes and reservoirs to explore on a stand up paddle board.

We’ve been paddling boarding in Arizona’s warm waters for more than 15 years, finding our favorite SUP destinations for every paddle board activity under the glowing warm desert sun. Whether you’re looking for a lake to have to yourself, a winding river, or a full-blown SUP party, Arizona has what you desire. And with something for everyone, beginner and advanced paddlers will be able to find exactly what they’re looking for in our guide to paddle boarding in Arizona. 

havasu

Lake Havasu

World-famous Lake Havasu is an incredibly popular boating destination, so don’t expect to take your paddle board for a casual stroll into the middle of the lake in peaceful solitude. However, Havasu’s 400 miles of coastline offer hundreds of peaceful and quiet inlets to explore alone or with a group of friends. 

The area boasts 300 days of sunshine each year and very warm water all summer long. With a thriving nightlife near the London Bridge, there’s something for everyone around this expansive body of water. There’s actually so much to do on a paddle board on Havasu that we’ve compiled the best of the best in our Ultimate Guide To Paddle Boarding Lake Havasu Arizona.

Lake Mohave

If you can’t handle the crowds at Havasu, you’ll feel right and home in the peace and solitude offered by Lake Mohave. The large and relatively secluded body of water stretches roughly 67 miles along the Hoover Dam to Davis Dam along the southern Nevada and Arizona border. 

Part of the reason Lake Mohave is less popular for water sports enthusiasts is the cooler water temperature. The dam pumps cold water collected from the bottom of Lake Mead, which is warmed much in Mohave’s shaded canyons. But if you don’t mind a brisk 53° Fahrenheit water temperature, you’ll be rewarded with a massive lake that feels like it’s all yours. 

antelope canyon
@naturtold exploring Antelope Canyon on her trusty iSUP

Lake Powell

We believe Lake Powell is one of the most beautiful bodies of water in the country, second only to Tahoe. That’s why 2 million people each year visit Powell. The red rocks and nearby horseshoe bend are a large part of what makes Powell such a famous and desirable place to paddleboard in Arizona. 

But the true beauty of Powell is experienced at sunrise and is best viewed from a stand up paddleboard that’s small enough to navigate the long and winding slots in Antelope Canyon, unlike larger vessels. Visitors can find guided SUP tours through the canyons, but it’s also a great area to explore solo or with friends and dogs. With no shortage of outdoor activities on or near Powell, like house boating, water skiing, hiking, and camping, it’s easily one of the best outdoor adventure destinations in the country. 

Lake Pleasant

This scenic desert oasis near the Sonoran desert is the perfect destination for fishing, camping, stargazing, and more. The lake’s 10,000-acres of calm water make it easy to take your land-based yoga routine to the water, but make sure you bring a yoga SUP with enough width, thickness, and the proper traction pad. 

If you’re new to the activity, you can find paddleboard rental locations at the Pleasant Harbor Marina, this is one activity where it’s best to have the right board. With a wide array of rock cliffs and underwater structures, Lake Pleasant offers some of the best inland scuba diving in the West. You’ll be able to find everything you’ll need for a week or a day trip at the Pleasant Harbor Marina or Scorpion Bay Marina.

bartlett lake

Bartlett Lake

Less than an hour’s drive from Tempe in the heart the Tonto National Forest, Bartlett Lake is central Arizona’s premier paddle board hot spot. It’s one of the best places to paddle board in AZ because of its beautiful, cactus-sprinkled desert and pine-covered mountain backdrop scenery. 

Beyond the views, the lake is teeming with largemouth and smallmouth bass, especially in the coves along the eastern shore. If you happen to leave some of your SUP fishing gear at home, you should be able to find what you need at the Bartlett Lake Marina. Please note that you’ll need to pay $8 for the pass that will get you into the national forest.

Saguaro Lake

While technically not a true Arizona lake, this man-made reservoir is still one of the best attractions in the state. Great effort goes into keeping fish alive and well at Saguaro, with 2,200 fish-habitat structures installed to improve fishing on the lake. You will need to purchase a Tonto Daily Pass to access the national forest; you can find more details about Saguaro Lake regulations through the forest service.

sportsman isup
Inflatable paddle boards are best for rivers @landon_ecker

Verde River

You’ll probably see your fair share of rafts, paddleboard, and kayaks, but we highly recommend bringing an inflatable paddle board to the 170-mile-long Verde River. The preferred paddling section is a 7-mile stretch from the Tuzigoot Bridge down to Haydorn Lane. This adventure should take anywhere from 3.5 to 5 hours depending on your paddling fitness and the flow of the water. 

The Verde River Greenway-State Natural Area and Dead Horse Ranch State Park maintain the access points on the river. Whenever paddling on a river, always checking the water height and weather before time; never paddle alone and always wear your personal floatation device and SUP leash. The forest service has even provided a helpful paddle trail map for your adventure.

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Posted in Travel, Paddle Board Lifestyle
Jeff Hale - Jeff is the Content Manager at ISLE Surf and SUP. He's been an avid surfer and paddler for over 20 years, and he's always looking for an excuse to spend more time in the water. Jeff grew up in Southern California where he earned his Bachelor's in English at UC Irvine and his MBA at Chapman University. You can find him in the water after work and on weekends in San Diego.