9 Remote Lakes in Arizona to Fish and Swim

Written by Jennifer Gaeng
Published: November 26, 2023
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Arizona, known for its stunning desert landscapes, is also home to a collection of remote lakes. These bodies of water offer the perfect blend of fishing and swimming opportunities. These hidden gems provide a serene escape in which to enjoy their favorite water activities. Arizona’s remote lakes offer a diverse range of experiences. You’ll find tranquil reservoirs nestled in national forests and crystal-clear lakes in picturesque settings. Whether you’re an avid angler or yearning for a refreshing swim, these nine remote lakes are worth checking out. They are sure to provide an unforgettable outdoor adventure.

These 10 remote lakes in Arizona are worth seeking out for the excellent fishing and swimming they offer.

Disclaimer: Please note that the term “remote” can have varying interpretations. The level of solitude and seclusion may differ from lake to lake. Also, the availability of swimming and fishing activities may vary depending on specific regulations, seasons, and conditions. Check with local authorities or park websites for the most up-to-date information before planning your visit.

1. Patagonia Lake State Park

Patagonia Lake State Park Boating

Patagonia Lake in southeast Arizona serves as a recreation site for boaters, campers and fishermen.

©Bob Balestri/iStock via Getty Images

Situated in southern Arizona, Patagonia Lake State Park is a hidden gem that offers a wide range of recreational opportunities. Situated in a picturesque landscape, this remote park is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Visitors can engage in fishing, swimming, water skiing, camping, picnicking, and hiking, immersing themselves in the tranquil beauty of the lake and its surroundings.

The star attraction of the park is the expansive Patagonia Lake, which beckons fishing enthusiasts with its abundance of bass, trout, catfish, and sunfish. Anglers can cast their lines from the shore or venture out onto the calm waters in boats. For those seeking a refreshing dip, the lake provides ample space for swimming, offering a respite from the Arizona heat.

Also, Patagonia Lake State Park boasts well-maintained camping areas, perfect for overnight stays under the starry night sky. Picnic spots are scattered throughout the park, providing idyllic settings for enjoying a meal amidst nature’s splendor. Hiking trails wind their way through the park, inviting visitors to explore the diverse flora and fauna and soak in the peaceful ambiance.

2. Horseshoe Reservoir

Tonto Basin, AZ is located next to Tonto National Forest

Horseshoe Reservoir is a hidden gem tucked away in Tonto National Forest.

©iStock.com/Gooda Photography

Tucked away in the pristine beauty of the Tonto National Forest, Horseshoe Reservoir is a hidden gem that promises a tranquil fishing experience in a remote setting. As a notable fish nursery in Arizona, the reservoir attracts anglers in search of a diverse range of fish species.

Surrounded by rugged terrain and breathtaking vistas, Horseshoe Reservoir provides a serene atmosphere for fishing enthusiasts. The calm waters are teeming with bass, catfish, crappie, and other sought-after fish, making it an ideal spot for a day of angling. Whether from the shore or a boat, fishermen can cast their lines and enjoy the peacefulness of the surroundings.

The remote nature of Horseshoe Reservoir adds to its allure, providing a sense of solitude and escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. With its unspoiled beauty and abundant fish populations, this hidden gem is a haven for those seeking a peaceful fishing experience in the heart of Arizona’s wilderness.

3. Bear Canyon Lake

Apache–Sitgreaves National Forest

Bear Canyon Lake is situated in the heart of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest.

©Nightryder84 / CC BY-SA 3.0 – License

Bear Canyon Lake, nestled in the forested areas of Arizona, is a remote gem that provides camping, fishing, and hiking opportunities. The lake is home to a diverse array of fish species, including trout and bass, making it an ideal spot for anglers of all skill levels. Whether casting a line from the shore or venturing out onto the calm waters in a boat, visitors can enjoy the serenity of the surroundings and the thrill of a potential catch.

While swimming may not be specifically mentioned, visitors to Bear Canyon Lake can still revel in the natural beauty of the area. The lake’s pristine waters and scenic shoreline offer a tranquil setting to unwind and connect with nature. Additionally, hiking trails wind through the surrounding forest, providing opportunities for exploration and immersing oneself in the peaceful ambiance of the area.

4. Woods Canyon Lake

In Arizona’s Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest you’ll find Woods Canyon Lake.


Woods Canyon Lake, located in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona, offers opportunities for fishing and swimming. It is a beautiful, canyon-bound lake with plenty of trout fishing opportunities. The lake covers 55 surface acres and has a maximum depth of 40 feet. Woods Canyon Lake is regularly stocked with catchable rainbow trout, and there are also some large brown trout remaining from previous stockings.

While specific details about swimming conditions and amenities may not be available in the search results, Woods Canyon Lake is mentioned as a place where swimming is possible. It’s always a good idea to check with local authorities or park websites for the most up-to-date information regarding swimming regulations and safety precautions before planning a visit.

5. Bartlett Lake

Series anglers will head for Bartlett Lake to land huge catfish and many other species.

©SED Travel Photography/Shutterstock.com

Bartlett Lake, located in the Tonto National Forest in Arizona, offers opportunities for fishing and swimming. It is a reservoir formed by the damming of the Verde River. The lake is known for its fishing potential, including large and smallmouth bass, crappie, and catfish. Visitors can enjoy swimming in popular areas such as Rattlesnake Cove and SB Swimming Cove.

Bartlett Lake is a popular destination for outdoor activities and is located just 35 miles from North Phoenix. It offers a variety of recreational opportunities, including boating, water skiing, and paddleboarding. The lake is 12 miles long and covers over 2,830 acres, providing ample space for water-based activities.

It’s important to note that there have been instances of algae blooms at Bartlett Lake, and visitors are advised to stay away from visible algae and scum in the water. Checking with local authorities or park websites for any current advisories or safety precautions is recommended before planning a visit.

6. Ashurst Lake

Ashurst Lake is known for its fishing potential, being stocked by the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

©Coconino National Forest / Public Domain – License

Ashurst Lake, located in northern Arizona, is one of the few lakes in the state that is natural. It offers opportunities for both fishing and swimming. It is considered a medium-sized lake in comparison to other lakes in the region. The lake is known for its fishing potential and is stocked by the Arizona Game and Fish Department. Visitors can enjoy activities such as fishing, boating, swimming, and camping at Ashurst Lake. The lake is situated in the Coconino National Forest, providing excellent views of the San Francisco Peaks.

7. Watson Lake

Red Kayaker at Watson Lake, Arizona

©Courtney L Fowler/Shutterstock.com

Nestled in the breathtaking landscape of Arizona, Watson Lake stands as a remote gem that offers both fishing and swimming opportunities. Located near Prescott, this serene lake presents a picturesque setting for outdoor enthusiasts.

Fishing enthusiasts will find Watson Lake to be a haven for angling. The lake is home to various fish species, including bass, catfish, and trout. Whether you prefer casting from the shore or venturing out in a boat, the tranquil waters of Watson Lake provide ample opportunities to reel in a catch and enjoy the serenity of the surroundings.

In addition to fishing, visitors can also indulge in swimming activities at Watson Lake. The clear, inviting waters beckon swimmers to take a refreshing dip and enjoy the peaceful ambiance. Surrounded by majestic granite boulders and scenic nature trails, the lake offers a serene oasis for those seeking relaxation and the chance to connect with nature.

8. Apache Lake

Apache Lake, Arizona, USA

Apache Lake, nestled deep within the Tonto National Forest, is a secluded sanctuary.

©Bernard Gagnon / Creative Commons – License

In the heart of the Tonto National Forest, Apache Lake is a remote oasis that offers both fishing and swimming opportunities. This picturesque reservoir, formed by the Apache Dam on the Salt River, stands as a hidden gem for outdoor enthusiasts in Arizona.

Anglers flock to Apache Lake to experience its abundant fishing possibilities. The lake is known for its diverse fish populations, including bass, catfish, crappie, and sunfish. With its remote location and serene waters, anglers can cast their lines from the shore or venture out onto the tranquil lake in boats, immersing themselves in the solitude and natural beauty that Apache Lake has to offer.

Not only is Apache Lake a paradise for fishing, but it also provides a refreshing escape for swimmers. The clear, inviting waters offer a sanctuary for those seeking a cool respite from the Arizona heat. Visitors can enjoy leisurely swims, basking in the tranquil atmosphere and marveling at the surrounding rugged landscapes.

9. Lake Mohave

Lake Mohave Nevada

Luxurious Lake Mohave offers fantastic fishing and year-round glamping!

©Norm Lane/Shutterstock.com

Lake Mohave, along the Colorado River, showcases the natural beauty of Arizona’s desert landscape. It also provides a remote oasis for fishing and swimming. Located between the Hoover Dam and Davis Dam, this pristine lake offers a variety of recreational opportunities.

For fishing enthusiasts, Lake Mohave is a hidden gem brimming with possibilities. The lake boasts a diverse range of fish species, including bass, catfish, crappie, and trout. Anglers can cast their lines from the shore or embark on a boating fishing adventure. Either option will allow you to relish in the solitude and tranquility of the lake’s remote location.

Swimmers are also drawn to escape the heat in Lake Mohave’s clear, refreshing waters. Take a leisurely swim near the shoreline or explore the lake’s hidden coves and sandy beaches. Visitors can revel in the serenity and enjoy the unique experience of swimming in this remote desert oasis.

Summary of 9 Remote Lakes in Arizona to Fish and Swim

1.Patagonia LakePatagonia Lake State Park
2.Horseshoe ReservoirTonto National Forest
3.Bear Canyon LakeApache-Sitgreaves National Forest
4.Woods Canyon LakeApache-Sitgreaves National Forest
5.Bartlett LakeTonto National Forest
6.Ashurst LakeCoconino National Forest
7.Watson LakeNear Prescott
8.Apache LakeTonto National Forest
9.Lake MohaveBetween the Hoover Dam and Davis Dam

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Nick Fox/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Jennifer Gaeng is a writer at A-Z-Animals focused on animals, lakes, and fishing. With over 15 years of collective experience in writing and researching, Jennifer has honed her skills in various niches, including nature, animals, family care, and self-care. Hailing from Missouri, Jennifer finds inspiration in spending quality time with her loved ones. Her creative spirit extends beyond her writing endeavors, as she finds joy in the art of drawing and immersing herself in the beauty of nature.

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