When you’re coming out of an airconditioned office on Friday and want to head out for a weekend trip, odds are that you want to keep cool in the Arizona heat. Despite Arizona’s reputation for having dry, arid deserts, it’s a surprisingly good state for wakeboarding!
The Grand Canyon State doesn’t just have the Grand Canyon to offer its visitors. There are plenty of lakes to choose from, some with perfect wakeboarding conditions year-round. If you’re from Arizona or just visiting the Southwest, you should definitely try to get some wakeboarding in before you leave.
Below, I’ve come up with the best list of where to wakeboard in Arizona. You’ll find some locations that you may have heard of before and some others that are relatively unknown. Check out these spots with friends and family on your next wakeboarding trip!
Starting off our list is Lake Powell, a legendary watersport lake with ideal weather and conditions for wakeboarding throughout most of the year. To give you an idea of just how big Lake Powell is, it took ten years for the Colorado River to fill the basin after the nearby dam was completed in 1967. That’s a lot of water!
What that means is that Lake Powell is deep no matter where you are on it. You can wipe out hard and still pop back up for some more like nothing happened. The surrounding canyon also blocks much of the wind from messing up the water, making it perfect for straightaway or circular wakeboarding.
There are a few boat launches to choose from along the banks of Lake Powell. While most of them are across the border in Utah, you can park and launch from the Wahweap State Line Launch Ramp on the Arizona border. Just make sure to get out early because this spot tends to draw a crowd!
Surrounded by idyllic desert mountains, canyons, and some skyscrapers, Lake Havasu is a well-known wakeboarding and watersport destination in Western Arizona. A tributary of the great Colorado River, Havasu is deep and wide, perfect for several boats to hit the water. You’ll have plenty of room to catch some air or ride a straightaway, whatever you prefer!
The thing that makes Lake Havasu so great is that, due to its size, there’s almost always flat water if you know where to look. Whether the weather makes part of the lake choppy, you can drive over to another section and likely find calm waters. However, when the weather is bad, boats tend to crowd to calmer areas, so keep that in mind when you head out.
You have a bunch of options to launch your boat from on Lake Havasu. Some are for non-motorized boats, and most have a fee for parking and full-day use of the ramp. We recommend launching from Site Six Launch Ramp, which is free to use all day. Otherwise, there are plenty of paid options that may be closer to where you want to go.
Located in the heart of the Tonto National Forest Reserve, Bartlett Lake is a family-friendly watersport destination with ideal wakeboarding conditions every time of year. It’s surrounded by rolling desert hills and blue skies, providing wakeboarders more than just their feet to focus on as they ride.
Bartlett Lake is the second largest lake near Phoenix, with over 180,000 acre-feet of water when it’s full. There’s a ton of space for several wakeboarding boats to hit the water and not disturb other boaters around them. If someone gets too close, simply move. There’s that much room here!
Launching on Bartlett Lake is fairly simple, with several launch ramp options at various points around the lake. Bartlett Lake Marina is the largest one, and you can grab breakfast or lunch here before you cast off.
The largest lake in the Phoenix area, Lake Pleasant draws an even bigger crowd than Bartlett Lake. However, the sheer size of the water is excellent for wakeboarders and party boaters alike, with a ton of room to navigate freely along the shores and the lake’s main body.
Not everyone likes to wakeboard all day long. Lake Pleasant is the perfect spot to kick back and relax on the water before heading back out for another ride. You can fish, swim, and party on the naturally cool waters. Just make sure you have a hat to combat the Arizona sun!
If you’re bringing your boat to Lake Pleasant, you’ll need to pick a launch ramp. Since the lake is so big, you’ll need to choose one that’s closer to where you want to ride. Also, take a look at the water before you head in. Your planned route might not be feasible if the wind conditions make some areas unrideable.
If you’ve got a keen sense for adventure, then Canyon Lake is calling you and your friends’ names. It’s considered one of the prettiest lakes in Arizona, but the drive tends to drive potential visitors away. The roads are narrow, winding, and cliffside, making it a reasonably dangerous route to travel. However, you’ll realize why it’s worth it once you get there.
Canyon Lake is fairly wide but very long, providing near-perfect conditions for straightaway wakeboarding. It’s surrounded by insanely beautiful hills and desert vegetation, which help block any wind from messing with your ride. Plus, not many people go here because it’s far from Phoenix, and the roads are a bit sketchy.
To access Canyon Lake, you’ll need a pass to get into the Tonto National Forest. Once there, you can launch from the Laguna Boat Ramp or the Palo Verde Boat Launch. Even if there aren’t as many people at this spot, get here as early as you can to take advantage of the perfect morning conditions!
The only lake suited to wakeboarding in Southern Arizona, Patagonia Lake is a sight to behold. Located near the Mexican Border 70 miles south of Tucson, people come from far and wide to wakeboard, water ski, and tube its pristine natural waters.
One thing to keep in mind when you arrive at Patagonia Lake is that the eastern waters are a no-wake zone for fishing. While the western side is a fantastic location for wakeboarding, space for motorized boats is limited. Show up early to make sure you get a good spot!
If you’re also camping at Patagonia Lake, then the campsite entry fee includes your boat launch. If not, day passes are available to access the lake. There are two boat ramps to launch from, so ask the park rangers which one is better for wakeboarding that day.
Close to Scottsdale and nearby suburbs, Saguaro Lake is the perfect day trip to escape the brutal Arizona heat. The lake has two sections, one wide and one narrow. The lower portion is wider and the spot you’re going to wakeboard. The upper section is where you would access your campground by boat if you’re spending the night.
It can’t be overstated how great Saguaro Lake is for wakeboarders, especially beginners. There are a few services around that offer wakeboarding lessons, but veterans will find it fairly easy to access calm waters when there aren’t too many boats around.
There are more than 22-miles of shoreline, making it a super-long stretch, perfect for practicing long-distance rides.
There are only two paved boat ramps to launch out onto Saguaro Lake. Grab a Tonto National Forest pass for the day, or pay for camping for the night, and the boat launch will be included in the price. Again, get here early! Plenty of lessons going on in this area so there might be too much wake to have a good ride.
Start Wakeboarding in Arizona Today!
I hope this list has given you some great new ideas on where to wakeboard in Arizona. The variety of lakes the state has to offer is nearly unheard of in the Southwest, so you should definitely check the area out if you’re not from Arizona or even if you are!
Also, take a look at our wakeboarding boat guide if you’re looking for a new ride for your next wakeboarding trip. There’s a lot to think about when choosing a good wakeboarding boat, so it’s better to be as informed as possible before you decide on one. Happy riding!