Swimming Near Phoenix: All The Best Spots

Written by Niccoy Walker
Updated: August 15, 2023
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As a prominent capital city in the Southwest, Phoenix has a lot going for it. Not only is it an excellent area to live in, but it also offers many activities for visitors. People enjoy its sunny weather and desert landscape. And there are always things to see and do, whether going on an outdoor adventure or spending the weekend at a luxury resort. And, of course, swimming is a popular pastime in the city.

Phoenix lies in the northern region of the Sonoran Desert and is surrounded by rugged mountains. The city has a hot desert climate with mostly clear skies year-round. The summers are long, sweltering, and very dry. And the winters are short, mild, and cool. While the pool season runs from mid-May to mid-September, you can swim throughout most of the year, including the winter. If you’re coming from up north, you may find Phoenix’s 50 to 60-degree temperatures to be acceptable for swimming even in December and January. But waiting until spring and summer ensures that natural swimming holes and lakes will be warm, almost like bathwater.

Here are some ideas for swimming near Phoenix, including rivers, lakes, beaches, swimming holes, and water parks.

Phoenix Swimming Holes

Tonto Natural Bridge

Tonto Natural Bridge is wonderful for families and explorers alike because it has picnic tables and viewing ledges, in addition to the swimming hole.

©Jason Yoder/Shutterstock.com

Visiting a Phoenix swimming hole is more than just splashing in some water outside, it’s a whole experience. Most require a short to challenging hike to some of the best scenery in the country. Pristine pools are surrounded by waterfalls, caves, rugged cliffs, and grottos. Visiting a Phoenix swimming hole requires a camera, for sure! Whenever you hike in the Phoenix area, ensure you bring plenty of water and protect yourself from the intense heat and blazing sun.

The Tonto Natural Bridge State Park is one of the best places to visit in the area for epic scenery and places to swim. After a moderately challenging hike, you will reach a swimming hole complete with a waterfall and a giant cave. Also, check out the Bob Bear Trail Hike or Cibecue Falls.

Read more about swimming holes in Phoenix here.

Phoenix Swimming Lakes

Bartlett Lake offers the perfect setting for swimming and other recreation

©SED Travel Photography/Shutterstock.com

In addition to the many manmade places for swimming, Phoenix has several excellent options for lake swimming. Many of the lakes offer public access swimming areas, where you can also bring boats and other water recreation vehicles. If you’re looking for a weekend nature getaway, pack your tent, sleeping bag, fishing pole, and swim trucks and check out one of Phoenix’s recreational lakes.

Bartlett Lake is about 48 miles from the city, but it is a favorite for camping, fishing, and water recreation. It is a reservoir nestled in a small valley with Desert Mountain vista views and native Sonoran vegetation. There are several large swimming areas, perfect for families with children. However, there are no lifeguards on duty, so swim at your own risk. You can also check out these picks: Saguaro Lake, Lake Pleasant, and Tempe Beach Park.

Phoenix Rivers For Swimming and Floating

Salt River Arizona recreationa area, Desert Mountains, east of Phoenix Arizona

Salt River is perfect for tubing and rafting

©Paul B. Moore/Shutterstock.com

What’s one of the best things about summer? Finding a nice refreshing river to splash in. Or floating in a tube with a drink in your hand down the lazy waters. And the best place to go for that is the Salt River, a major tributary of the Gila River. Tubing and rafting down the Salt River is an excellent way to get out of the city and beat the summer heat. It’s a short drive from Phoenix and also offers swimming, kayaking, and paddling. If you’re up for an adventure, check out Salt River Rafting, where you can go on a wilderness adventure consisting of camping and whitewater rafting.

Phoenix Beaches

Lake Havasu offers the perfect weekend getaway


Phoenix is not a coastal city; the closest ocean beach is about a four-hour drive to Playa Bonita Beach in Mexico. However, the Phoenix area offers several lake beaches, where you can sun in the sand, build castles, and splash in the water. Check out Windsor Beach in Lake Havasu State Park. Along with a beach and swim area, you will find boat ramps, campsites, and picnic areas. However, this beach is over three hours by car. But you can make it a fun weekend trip for the whole family! There are a few more public beaches around Lake Havasu you can visit while you’re there.

Phoenix Water Parks

Because of Phoenix’s hot, dry climate, there are plenty of fun water-themed amusement parks in the area. Check these out:

  • Oasis Water Park
  • Hurricane Harbor Phoenix
  • Enchanted Island Amusement Park
  • Great Wolf Lodge
  • Castles N’ Coasters
  • Edison Park
  • Altadena Park
  • Golfland Sunsplash

Summary of the Best Swimming Spots in Phoenix

NumberSwimming SpotLocation in Arizona
1Tonto Natural Bridge State ParkPine
2Bartlett LakeTonto National Forest
3Saguaro LakeTonto National Forest
4Lake PleasantMorristown
5Tempe Beach ParkTonto National Forest
6Salt RiverMesa
7Windsor BeachLake Havasu State Park
8Oasis Water ParkPhoenix
9Hurricane Harbor PhoenixGlendale
10Enchanted Island Amusement ParkPhoenix
11Great Wolf LodgeScottsdale
12Castles N’ CoastersPhoenix
13Edison ParkPhoenix
14Altadena ParkPhoenix
15Golfland SunsplashMesa

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Jon Manjeot/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Niccoy is a professional writer for A-Z Animals, and her primary focus is on birds, travel, and interesting facts of all kinds. Niccoy has been writing and researching about travel, nature, wildlife, and business for several years and holds a business degree from Metropolitan State University in Denver. A resident of Florida, Niccoy enjoys hiking, cooking, reading, and spending time at the beach.

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