7 Top Lakes Near Flagstaff Arizona

Most people head to Flagstaff to enjoy the awesome year-round weather and spend time in the pines of the Coconino national forest.

With its proximity to the Grand Canyon, it is also a great place to stay with plenty of restaurants, hiking trails, and outdoor activities.

In addition to the typical outdoor activities that you can do in a mountain town, Flagstaff also offers a great lake scene for those looking to kayak, fish, or have a day by the water.

7 Top Lakes Near Flagstaff Arizona

Let’s take a look at some of the best lakes within a short drive of Flagstaff:

Lake Mary

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Considered the “twin lakes” of Flagstaff, Lake Mary is actually made up of two lakes: Upper Lake Mary and Lower Lake Mary.

Upper Lake Mary is the larger of the two lakes and it is long and narrow and known for a variety of recreational activities including watersports and fishing. Boaters and water skiers alike find a lot of opportunities with this no-motor size limit lake.

Upper Lake Mary also has many fish to offer fishermen including northern pike, channel catfish, rainbow trout, and crappie. Lower

Lake Mary is stocked full of brook trout but tends to dry up in the hotter months. This lake is a bit smaller than Upper Lake Mary, but still worth the visit for those who want to fish for trout or just want a change of scenery. Lake Mary Recreation Corridor is open year-round.

Kinnikinick Lake

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Known for its wildlife, Kinnikinick Lake is a relatively small lake with chances for visitors to do whatever lake activities they might like.

Bring canoes or kayaks for a great time on the water since this lake does not permit motorized boats. This lake is best known for the many wild animals that spend their time there.

From elk to bald eagles, Kinnikinick Lake visitors can see a variety of wildlife along the lakeshore of this lake. Kinnikinick Lake is located a bit off the beaten path 40 miles south of Flagstaff but is worth a visit for the wildlife.

Marshall Lake

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Given the lake’s partnership with Ducks Unlimited and Arizona Game and Fish Department, Marshall Lake is a waterfowl paradise.

The lake, open from early May to mid-October, is great for primitive camping and wildlife viewing. The lake’s marshy climate is great for photography. Shutterbugs who want to capture shots of coots, ducks, and elk.

On rare occasions, Marshall Lake visitors might even spot bald eagles that nest in the area. Mountain bikers should also take a look at Marshall Lake considering its rough terrain.

Ashurst Lake

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Want a place to camp with fire rings, picnic tables, and cooking grills, Ashurst Lake is a great spot to spend a day outside. This northern Arizona lake offers over 50 campsites between two campgrounds near the lake.

Ashurst Lake is also known for its windsurfing and canoeing opportunities. One unique aspect of Ashurst Lake is its ability to hold water even during times with less precipitation. This means that visitors can still enjoy watersports even during drier months.

Ashurst Lake is located 20 miles southeast of Flagstaff off of graveled and paved roads.

Kaibab Lake

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Located in an incredibly diverse wildlife area, Kaibab Lake has many opportunities for travelers and outdoorsmen of all types. With many wildflowers and pine forests, Kaibab Lake is located in Kaibab National Forest and is incredibly temperate with hot summer temperatures in reaching above 90 degrees Fahrenheit and winter months sometimes offering snow on the pine trees and lakeshore.

Kaibab Lake is also in a prime location for learning opportunities. Just one hour south of Grand Canyon National Park’s south rim, Kaibab Lake can be a great place to park the RV or motorhome for the night on a road trip to the Grand Canyon. Because it is a National Forest, there are many different types of terrain in the area including canyons and prairies of its own.

The lake itself also offers a fishing pier and small boat dock for visitors who want to try their hand at fishing in the area. Swimming is not allowed in the lake, but visitors can enjoy time spent with family and friends exploring the many hiking trails or having a picnic at one of the many areas at Kaibab Lake and Kaibab National Forest.

Frances Short Pond

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This pond, located off the FUTS trail, is home to great fishing opportunities. In fact, Arizona Game and Fish actually offers free clinics for new and experienced fishermen alike to work on their skills and catch a great fish or two.

While having a state fishing license is required, this is a great offer for people who visit the pond. Local schools even bring their students here for fishing education. This pond is located very close to Thorpe Park. This is where visitors of Frances Short Pond can find parking, picnic tables, benches, and a dirt trail.

This park even welcomes dogs in its Bark Park. Frances Short Pond is also great for people who want to view wildlife. There are many animals located in and around the pond including amphibians, mammals, birds, and fish. This is a great spot for birdwatchers.

Mormon Lake

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Mormon Lake is the largest natural lake in Arizona. However, this lake has a tendency to dry up completely. Mormon Lake is most known for its overlook. The overlook is a great spot to see the lake’s wildlife and watch birds as they fly over the lake.

Even if the lake is dried up entirely, there are many animals that make their way through the area including large herds of elk. There is also a great resort on the lake’s west side that offers rentals of recreational equipment including snowmobiles and mountain bikes. This lake is also great for cross-country skiing.

There also is a stable that provides horses available for riding around the lake. At Mormon Lake Lodge, there is a steakhouse that is known for branding logos of local ranches on its walls. Beyond the lodge amenities and wildlife, Mormon Lake is a photographer’s paradise with panoramic views abound along the lake’s overlook.


What are the best lakes to swim in Flagstaff?

Lake Mary is probably the best lake to swim in because of how large the lake is and normally isn’t overly crowded. You can rent kayaks, paddle boards, and other water sports items at various stores, and other lakes like Knoll lake are also great lakes to swim. 


Flagstaff is one of my favorite cities to visit in the Southwest and I enjoy discovering new things to do every time I visit. While the winter season from November to March may be a little cold for a lake day, the springtime will present plenty of sunny days to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather and lakes that Flagstaff offers. In winter months, check out other surrounding lakes throughout the state in places like Phoenix of Tucson if you want to get some sun!