Tucson is known for its beautiful desert landscapes and great year-round temperatures.
While there isn’t an abundance of natural waterways and lakes in Tucson, some great options within a short drive will provide a great day away at the lake.
Top Lakes Near Tucson
Below are some of the top options in Tucson worth considering.
— Jeff Beamish (@jeffbeamish) June 3, 2014
If you are longing for a relaxing day of fishing or taking a long stroll along the water banks, then Kennedy Lake is a hidden gem in the desert city of Tuscon. Picture a large oasis of tranquil water that is surrounded by beautiful trees.
It is the perfect getaway for those craving a slower pace of life and looking to reconnect with nature. While fishing ranks at the top of Kennedy Lake’s list of leisure activities, you can also bring your canoe or kayak to explore the blue waters or enjoy a nice picnic along the banks while watching the ducks waddle about. Before you pack up to leave, be sure to take in the beautiful sunset. You won’t be disappointed.
Rose Canyon Lake
— Michael Colaianni (@michaelc220202) May 7, 2019
Tucked away in the Coronado National Forest and surrounded by tall pine trees, is the unassuming Rose Canyon Lake. You can find ample parking further out and a nice trail that leads you to the lake, which also happens to be wheelchair accessible.
The main event at Rose Canyon is trout fishing, but make sure to come before the winter months or the lake will most likely be closed. For a small daily fee, you can also access the campground site, which is located near the lake. It makes for a scenic and adventurous getaway, but make sure to reserve your spot far in advance if you plan to camp there, or you will be left in the desert dust.
Located just outside of downtown Tucson is a small but mighty fishing lake known as Sahuarita Lake.
Named after the Saguaro cactus, Sahuarita Lake is a manmade lake chock-full of a variety of fish. You will need an urban fishing license to tackle these waters, but if you go, you will not leave empty-handed.
A tranquil park also surrounds the lake, where you can enjoy a nice picnic or catch up on your reading.
If exercise is your jam, then you can enjoy a nice long walking trail along the lake.
Sahuarita Lake is dog friendly, so make sure you plan to bring your dog as you soak up the sun in the park.
— Nick Walter (@Nick_J_Walter) April 22, 2017
Located around Christopher Columbus Park in Tucson, you will find a jewel in the desert called Silverbell Lake.
If you love the outdoors, then you will love coming here to bird-watch all day. Don’t forget to bring your canoe or small boat and take it out for a spin, just no gas engines please.
If you are into fishing, then Silverbell Lake is the place for you to be. There is an upper and lower lake, but the lower portion is not so impressive.
If you do plan to fish, make sure you go to the upper portion of the lake, and don’t forget to bring your fishing license. After a long day of fishing, you can come back and relax in the park for a picnic or enjoy breathing in that clean air as you take a much-needed nap.
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At the end of Ruby Road, known to some locals as the most scenic drive in Tucson, you will find the remote and peaceful Arivaca Lake.
It is a location for those that really want to find peace within the soul, and experience the joy of just being in nature. The lake is well known for spectacular bird watching, but you can also view other wildlife such as hawks, eagles and an abundance of aquatic birds while hiking around the lake.
There are campgrounds nearby, but they are not located very close to the lake, so you will probably have to drive there. More recently, Arivaca Lake has experienced some lower water levels, so be prepared to check with the city first, if you are planning a trip out there to boat or fish soon.
— Robert Armstrong (@RobertInOP) November 27, 2022
Come to Sabino lake, which is really just a glorified creek, but stay for the Sabino loop.
This 2 mile trail leads you through rugged yet lovely terrain of stately saguaros and flowering cactus.
Bird enthusiasts will be happy to know that there is a variety of birds to watch as well. Ideally, it is really a tremendous place to explore nature. At the end of the loop, you will find some picnic areas by the lake, if you choose to relax after a long day’s hike.
Keep in mind that it gets really hot here during the summer, so don’t forget to bring water bottles. The lake has been known to dry up depending on the weather, so visiting during a cooler season would be most ideal.
Known as a small, unassuming man-made lake, Lakeside Lake is a nice reprieve from the ordinary Tucson desert landscape.
You can take out your canoe or small fishing boat and try your hand at catching some Rainbow Trout or Bass, local favorites. Bring your kids to play on the jungle gym at the nearby park or bring your dog to play catch with him in the open field.
If you love sunsets, you may want to stick around for an evening stroll around the lake perimeter to watch the light glimmers off the water’s edge.
Santa Cruz River
— Tucson 12 (@Tucson12) February 22, 2019
Translated in Spanish as the “Holy Cross” river, the Santa Cruz River is 184 miles long surrounded by tall grasslands, giving it a marshy, swamp-like vibe.
The river doesn’t see a lot of rainfall throughout the year, so it is often a drybed of water.
However, a majestic park runs along the banks of the Santa Cruz River, boasting trails for avid cyclists, hiking or walking your dog. You can also find equestrian access for those that are interested in horseback riding or a playground with a jungle gym if you bring your kids.
We hope this list will give you some nice ideas for a nice idea at the lake. From Flagstaff to Phoenix and Tucson, there are hidden gems of lake options throughout the state. You may have to do a little research to find some of the best spots but once you do they are sure to impress!
At certain times throughout the year, everyone needs a change of scenery from time to time, and whether you heading to the lake to relax and read a book or engage in water sports have a great time!