Large Lake Recreation Areas near the Grand Canyon
There are some premier lake destinations to include on your Grand Canyon vacation itinerary. The big ones are man-made – Lake Powell, Lake Mead and Lake Havasu.
1. Lake Mead at the Nevada Border near Hoover Dam
Lake Mead is the largest man-made lake in the United States. Located on the Colorado River about 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas, NV, Lake Mead is in both Arizona and Nevada, with the National Recreational Area in Arizona. Formed by the famous Hoover Dam, Lake Mead extends for some 110 miles behind the dam. The reservoir, which spans 248 square miles, is best accessed from the northwest via Interstate 15 through Valley of Fire State Park and the Moapa River Indian Reservation. The lake is made up of several bodies, including Boulder Basin, which is closest to Hoover Dam, the Narrows, Overton Arm, Temple Basin, and others. The drought has had dramatic effects on Lake Mead. In 2008, Lake Mead was less than half full! Still, this enormous lake is known for its boating, water sports and fishing and recreation in general. And Hoover Dam is a worthwhile sight while at Lake Mead.
2. Lake Powell at the Utah-Arizona Border
Lake Powell is the second largest man-made lake in the U. S. and provides stunning scenery to visitors. It was created by the flooding of Glen Canyon by the controversial Glen Canyon Dam. The reservoir is named for explorer John Wesley Powell, a one-armed American Civil War veteran who explored the river via wooden boat in 1869. In 1972, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area was established. This is a public land playground managed by the National Park Service, and available to the public for recreational purposes. Lake Powell is approximately 25 miles wide x 118 miles long and is a recreational mecca. This lake and recreational mecca is accessed via Page, AZ. Visitors can also view Glen Canyon Dam.
Related article: Houseboating on Lake Powell
3. Lake Havasu near the California Border
Lake Havasu is approximately 230 miles southwest of the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. This lake is best accessed by Lake Havasu City, which sits on the lake’s eastern shore. Lake Havasu is a reservoir located behind Parker Dam on the Colorado River. The concrete arch dam was constructed between 1934-38. Average depth of the lake is 35 feet and features more than 400 miles of exceptional shoreline. Some 3.5 million people visit Lake Havasu each year enjoying boating and fishing. Fishermen try their luck catching bass and stripers.
London Bridge at Lake Havasu
Also at Lake Havasu is the London Bridge. The official London Bridge, built in 1831, is the London Bridge visitors will see at Lake Havasu in western Arizona. How did the London Bridge end up in Arizona, you ask? After World War II, traffic on the bridge began to dramatically increase, and by 1962, it was evident that the bridge was crumbling into the Thames and was unable to handle the traffic volume over the river. The London government was in financial straits and needed someone willing to buy the crumbling bridge and remove it for them. Enter oil man Robert McCulloch, the founder of Lake Havasu City, who purchased the London Bridge for $2,460,000 and paid an additional $7 million dollars to have the bridge dismantled, shipped to American and reconstructed in its current location. Cited by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest antique, the famed stone bridge is worth a visit!
Smaller Natural Lakes near the Grand Canyon
For natural lakes in Arizona, head to the White Mountains region in north central part of the state. Arizona’s White Mountains region is home to some 60 lakes or more. Nestled throughout the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest are eight natural cold water lakes. Visitors will get the fill when it comes to fishing, boating and other recreational opportunities that come with lakes.
There are also several natural lakes near Flagstaff, AZ, including Mormon Lake, in the Coconino National Forest, is the largest natural lake in Arizona. (However, the continuing drought in the Western U. S. impacts lake levels). Ashurst Lake, another lake in the Coconino National Forest, is regularly stocked with rainbow and brook trout and offers great camping and recreation. Kinnikinick Lake, Stoneman Lake and Upper Mary Lake are other popular lakes in the Coconino National Forest, and offer good camping and fishing and wildlife viewing opportunities.