Daniel is a copywriter who has well and truly been bitten alive by the 'travel bug'. After ticking off several North American National Parks and exploring Europe by train, his sights are now set on South East Asia. Usually with at least one camera locked and loaded, you'll find Daniel wherever there are mountains, lakes or beaches.
Discover the charm of Arizona’s hidden gems as we guide you through 13 stunning lakes close to Flagstaff.
From tranquil fishing spots to dramatic landscapes perfect for outdoor adventures, these lakes offer refreshing, natural escapes close to the center of Arizona.
Upper Lake Mary
Lake Mary is split into two reservoirs: Upper and Lower Lake Mary. Upper Lake Mary is the more popular choice and is a great spot for a range of water activities. The 450-acre reservoir has no limit on boat engines, so you can rip across the waters if you’re a thrill seeker with no issues. Upper Lake Mary is also a hot spot for anglers, with black crappie, largemouth bass, northern pike, and walleye all abundant.
Lower Lake Mary
Lower Lake Mary is nestled just downstream of its larger sibling in northern Arizona. Though it’s smaller and prone to drying up, the lake comes alive in wet seasons extending up to 3 miles, teeming with rainbow trout, amongst other species from its upstream counterpart. While you may not find water sports here, it remains a charming haven for angling enthusiasts and those seeking serene, natural beauty.
Set against the backdrop of the San Francisco Peaks, Ashurst Lake, 20 miles southeast of Flagstaff, is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. This beautiful lake offers a unique, reliable water source, even during dry seasons, making it a favored spot for local anglers. Regularly filled with rainbow trout and Northern Pike, fishing is a prime activity here. With the added allure of beautiful campground settings, Ashurst Lake ensures a memorable outdoor experience.
Discover the untouched beauty of Kinnikinick Lake, a hidden gem in North Central Arizona’s Coconino National Forest. A journey through a scenic, packed gravel road leads you to this quieter, less developed fishing spot known for its trout and catfish. Although the lake permits only day use, the surrounding forest invites adventurers for wild camping, making it a perfect spot for those seeking solitude and stunning wildlife, including winter sightings of bald eagles.
Mormon Lake stands out as Arizona’s largest natural lake, offering a unique blend of popular activities. Although more of a marsh than a lake in recent years, the wet seasons bring back its waters for exciting canoeing and kayaking adventures. You’ll find plenty of hiking and biking trails and campgrounds nestled in the natural forest. And when night falls, it reveals an awe-inspiring celestial view!
For a perfect day trip near Flagstaff, Cataract Lake is a great choice and one of Arizona’s more famous fishing lakes. Located in the Williams Ranger District, this beautiful lake is open for seasonal day use and offers amenities like a picnic area and a boat ramp. Even though swimming is not allowed, it’s a popular spot lake for fishing, with well-stocked trout and catfish. Its proximity to bird migration routes also turns it into a birdwatcher’s paradise during the migration season.
Travel off the beaten path to Dogtown Lake near Williams, a spot known for its historical prairie dog towns. This lake offers varied activities, including fishing, kayaking, and canoeing. With a broad range of fish species, from rainbow trout to largemouth bass, it’s a promising destination for angler enthusiasts. With a guided nature trail wrapped around the scenic lake, Dogtown Lake is open year-round for day visits.
Just 40 miles west of Flagstaff, White Horse Lake stands as a popular fishing destination within the diverse scenery of Kaibab National Forest. Located an hour from the south rim of the Grand Canyon National Park, it’s a great stop-off when exploring Arizona. The area is rife with forest attractions, including dams, scenic overlooks, and trails for hiking and biking. Round off your visit with some refreshments from The Bear Shack amidst the stunning natural backdrop.
Kaibab Lake, conveniently located just 30 minutes west of Flagstaff, offers a diverse range of outdoor activities. This 45-acre reservoir, set amongst magnificent ponderosa pines, provides excellent fishing opportunities, especially when stocked with trout and catfish. Although swimming is off the cards, the lake welcomes visitors for boating, kayaking, and canoeing. With added land-based attractions like camping, hiking, and a picnic area, Kaibab Lake is a delightful family getaway.
Santa Fe Lake
Santa Fe Lake, a quaint reservoir built in 1882, is a quick 35-minute drive from Flagstaff. Despite its size, the lake holds its own as a notable fishing spot, particularly for yellow perch, with trout and catfish stocked occasionally. Popular activities beyond fishing include kayaking, canoeing, and short hikes around the area. More than just a reservoir, Santa Fe Lake is a cherished treasure to the people of Williams, worth a visit for those seeking a quieter corner of Arizona.
Embark on a journey to Long Lake, situated in the stunning surroundings of Arizona’s Mogollon Rim area. This lake, maintained by the Coconino National Forest division, is steeped in local legends about a serpent-like creature that was reportedly seen by ranchers as they herd cattle near the lake. Long Lake is home to a diverse range of fish, including Rainbow Trout, Largemouth Bass, and Walleye, promising a rewarding experience for anglers.
Venture south of Flagstaff to find Stoneman Lake, a small natural gem wrapped in a blanket of ponderosa pines, Gambel oak, and Arizona white oak. Located 30 miles from the city, this shallow lake offers more than meets the eye with its serene water body and stunning surrounding landscape. Even though it’s not vast, Stoneman Lake provides a tranquil retreat within Arizona’s beautiful, diverse nature.
Located near Flagstaff, the petite Marshall Lake is a delightful destination for day trips, frequently chosen by families and couples. Despite its fluctuating water levels, the lake becomes a fishing hot spot during spring and fall, teeming with various types of trout and Northern Pike. Visitors can camp on the east side to enjoy fantastic peak views and a parade of migrating birds, including native bald eagles, coots, and herons. Whether boating, mountain biking, or hiking, Marshall Lake is well worth exploring.
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