Kayaking Canyon Lake

March 24th 2020

The beauty of the canyon

We have just made our second trip to this kayaking spot this week, joined by the Savino’s on a beautiful, clear, warm, sunny Arizona day. There are so many little kayaking spots in Arizona, that we were not aware of two years ago, the scenery, wildlife, water foul, where the desert meets the water, truly a magical area. Here is the Wikipedia description of the Canyon Lake area.

Canyon Lake is one of four reservoirs that were formed by the damming of the Salt River in the U.S. state of Arizona. The lake was formed by the Mormon Flat Dam, which was completed in 1925 after two years of construction.

Canyon Lake, with a surface area of 950 acres (380 ha), is the third and smallest of four lakes created along the Salt River. Two others, Apache Lake and Roosevelt Lake, are upstream. The fourth, Saguaro Lake, is downstream.

Canyon Lake lies approximately 15 miles (24 km) up the Apache Trail from Apache Junction, Arizona and 51 miles (82 km) east of Phoenix. It is within the Superstition Wilderness of Tonto National Forest, and is a popular recreation area for the Phoenix metropolitan area. Recreation amenities include hiking trails, camping, and boating, all managed by the United States Forest Service. Canyon Lake is a popular stop along the Apache Trail route from Apache Junction, Arizona, passing Tortilla Flat, Arizona, before reaching Apache Lake and Roosevelt Lake behind the Theodore Roosevelt Dam.

Water rushing in from a mountain stream

There are a number of launch areas all within the Tonto National Forest, our first launch was at the Canyon Lake Marina, we paid a launch fee of $10 and launched off of the boat ramp, on our return trip the marina had been closed so we parked illegally at one of the picnic areas and launched off the shore. The Tonto National Forest is one of the exceptions to the National Park Pass that we have, if you were spending a lot of time in the area a $40 yearly Tonto pass would be a good investment or you can purchase daily park passes $8 per day but you can’t purchase them at the park, no you need to purchase the passes at a retail facility before you go, so when we got there and the marina was closed we decided to risk a ticket and just parked at one of the lots. A little machine to make a pass available, and we would have paid but driving ten miles (16 km) just didn’t make real sense.

Water running down the canyon wall

Our first visit was on a Sunday (not one of our better decisions), it is a small lake and there was a lot of power boat traffic. Much less power boat on a Tuesday but I can’t imagine this lake on a hot summer day, it would not be safe to kayak, most of the lake. In fact some fool stoped to tell me that we weren’t very visible, (I’m in a bright pink shirt) so can’t imagine on a busy day, one item of note if kayaking here there were all kinds of floating debris submerged logs and limbs, I have no idea where that many chunks of wood comes from, after all we are in the desert. And as with most power boaters they have very little or no consideration for smaller craft, just a cautionary note to keep in mind, as there are many very narrow channels on the lake.

Cactus growing on the side of the canyon – notice the debris in the water

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