The Best Swimming Spots in Arizona: Lakes, Rivers, and More

Written by Heather Burdo
Updated: August 15, 2023
© Jon Manjeot/
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Arizona, known for its arid desert landscapes, may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of swimming. However, this southwestern state is home to a surprising array of water bodies that provide ideal swimming opportunities. Arizona offers diverse options for water enthusiasts seeking to escape the heat, from tranquil lakes to meandering rivers and hidden swimming holes. In this comprehensive blog post, we will explore the best swimming spots in Arizona, highlighting the ideal seasons for swimming, the most popular locations, and the unique features that make each spot a must-visit destination.

The best season for swimming in Arizona is typically from late spring to early fall when temperatures soar and the days are long and sunny. During this time, the average high temperatures range from the high 70s to mid-90s Fahrenheit (25-35°C), creating the perfect conditions for enjoying the water. The water temperatures in lakes, rivers, and swimming holes remain refreshingly cool and provide a welcome respite from the desert heat.

Let’s break down the most popular swimming areas between swimming holes, lakes, rivers, and beaches.

Swimming Holes

Swimming in Arizona provides plenty of opportunities to swim in natural swimming holes that are spread out throughout the state. These scenic locations offer a unique and immersive swimming experience in a pristine natural environment.

Fossil Creek, Arizona Swimming Holes
The Fossil Creek swimming hole provides a beautiful, peaceful spot to swim and escape from the hot weather.


Fossil Creek

Fossil Creek is undoubtedly one of the best swimming spots in Arizona. This hidden gem offers a serene and picturesque swimming experience with crystal-clear, turquoise waters. Surrounded by a lush riparian habitat in the Coconino National Forest, Fossil Creek provides a refreshing escape from the desert heat. The creek’s water temperature remains cool year-round, making it an ideal spot for swimming, snorkeling, and simply enjoying the beauty of nature.

Oak Creek Below SR89 at Slide Rock Park AZ
With a beautiful swimming site and an exhilarating sliding experience, Slide Rock State Park is a great place to visit.


Slide Rock State Park

Slide Rock State Park is famous for its natural water slide formed by slippery red rock formations along Oak Creek. Visitors can slide down the smooth rocks, plunging into the cool waters below. Aside from the exhilarating sliding experience, the park also offers designated swimming areas along the creek, where visitors can relax and soak in the natural beauty of the surrounding canyon walls.

West Clear Creek, Arizona Swimming Holes
West Clear Creek is the perfect go-to if you want to experience a hidden paradise during your swimming hole adventure.

©Jon Manjeot/

West Clear Creek

Near Camp Verde, West Clear Creek is a hidden paradise for swimming enthusiasts. Accessible via a moderate hike, this pristine swimming hole rewards adventurers with its clear waters, scenic cliffs, and peaceful ambiance. The canyon walls provide shade during the hot summer, making it a popular spot for cooling off and enjoying the tranquil surroundings.

Wet Beaver Creek, Arizona Swimming Holes
Soak up the warm Arizona sunshine rays while swimming in the crystal clear waters of Wet Beaver Creek.

©Johnny Coate/

Wet Beaver Creek

Near Sedona, Wet Beaver Creek is an excellent spot for swimming under the Arizona sun. Its crystal clear waters are fed by natural springs, giving swimmers an incredible way to explore the wildlife that inhabits this tranquil retreat. Perfect for those who want to make a day out of it, Wet Beaver Creek offers plenty of spots to picnic and relax between dips in the shallows.

Havasu Falls in Arizona for swimming in paradise.
Relax in this paradise of blue-green waters after a hot day in Arizona.


Havasu Falls

Located in the Havasupai Indian Reservation, this paradise has an oasis of waterfalls and blue-green waters. The falls are cascades that empty into stunning turquoise pools surrounded by limestone walls. While it’s more challenging to access than other locations on our list, the incredible beauty of this spot is well worth the journey.


Arizona features several stunning lakes, each with its unique characteristics. Some offer calm waters perfect for kayaking and fishing, while others feature breathtakingly beautiful views.

Lake Powell Arizona swimming
Known for clear blue waters, Lake Powell makes for the perfect spot to soak up some rays and enjoy a picnic.


Lake Powell

Lake Powell is a large reservoir located on the Colorado River that spans between Arizona and Utah. It boasts stunning red rock formations and clear blue waters, making it an excellent location for swimming. The shoreline is dotted with sandy beaches like Lone Rock Beach and Wahweap Swim Beach, which offer perfect spots to swim, picnic, and soak up the sun.

Lake Pleasant, AZ
Hiking is a breathtaking experience around Lake Pleasant, AZ, with beautiful sunsets.


Lake Pleasant

Located in the northwest of Phoenix, Lake Pleasant is a vast lake providing fishing, boating, kayaking, and hiking opportunities. Besides, nearby hiking trails are ideal for land adventures. Don’t forget to witness the breathtaking sunsets here!

Saguaro Lake and the surrounding mountains with its cacti under clear blues skies in the Arizona Desert, United States of America
Experience an array of activities for water enthusiasts and embrace the gorgeous scenery of Saguaro Lake.

©Harry Beugelink/

Saguaro Lake

In the Tonto National Forest, Saguaro Lake offers a scenic retreat for swimming and water-based activities. Stunning desert landscapes and iconic saguaro cacti surround the lake’s clear waters. Visitors can swim near the lakeshore or rent a boat or kayak to explore the lake’s hidden coves and pristine swimming spots.

Rivers for Swimming and Floating

Arizona has some scenic rivers offering plenty of swimming and floating opportunities. From winding canyons to rapid-filled rapids, you can explore the state’s unique river systems while cooling off in its refreshing waters.

Salt River Arizona recreationa area, Desert Mountains, east of Phoenix Arizona
Beat the heat with a refreshing tubing experience down Salt River.

©Paul B. Moore/

Salt River

The Lower Salt River, flowing near Mesa and Phoenix, is a popular destination for swimming and floating. Tubing down the river is a beloved pastime, providing a leisurely and refreshing way to beat the summer heat. Several access points along the river, such as Water Users Recreation Site and Phon D. Sutton Recreation Site, offer opportunities for swimming, picnicking, and enjoying the scenic beauty of the surrounding Sonoran Desert.

The Verde River just west of Stewart Ranch in the Upper Verde River Wildlife Area in Arizona. This section of the river is being fed by underground Springs.
Verde River is the perfect spot to relax and swim with gentle currents.

©Deep Desert Photography/

Verde River

The Verde River, one of Arizona’s last free-flowing rivers, meanders through a scenic and ecologically diverse landscape. It provides a tranquil setting for swimming and floating. Beasley Flat, near Camp Verde, is a popular access point where visitors can swim and enjoy the river’s gentle currents. Further downstream, near Clarkdale, the Verde River’s calm waters invite visitors to relax, soak in the surroundings, and take a refreshing dip.


Arizona has many stunning beach options, including secluded coves, sun-drenched sandy stretches, and open desert landscapes.

Tempe Town Lake Arizona
The Tempe Town Lake beach is perfect for dining, shopping, kayaking, and swimming all in one convenient spot.

©Gregory E. Clifford/

Tempe Town Lake

Tempe Town Lake is a place in Tempe where you can enjoy a beach day. You can swim in the lake, rent kayaks or paddleboards, or hang out on the sandy beach. This lake is perfect because it is near downtown Tempe, so you can go shopping, dine, or get entertained right after a fun day at the beach.

Watson Lake Arizona
Some of the most beautiful views can be captured as you swim and kayak in the clear waters of Watson Lake.

©Nick Fox/

Watson Lake

Watson Lake, located in Prescott, provides a scenic beach-like experience surrounded by rugged granite boulders. The lake’s clear waters and sandy beaches make it an ideal spot for swimming and sunbathing. Visitors can also explore the lake by renting a kayak or paddleboard, enjoying the picturesque views and tranquil atmosphere.

Bartlett Lake beach in Arizona
The Bartlett Lake beach is a peaceful spot to go swimming or fishing with views of the desert. Some people describe it as a “beach paradise,” making it one of the best swimming spots in Arizona.

©SED Travel Photography/

Bartlett Lake

Bartlett Lake, found in the Tonto National Forest, has sandy shores and specific areas where swimming is allowed. The lake’s distant location creates a peaceful atmosphere for those who want to swim and experience the water. Bartlett Lake is a secret beach paradise for enthusiasts because of the impressive desert views and the chance to go boating and fishing.

Can You Go Fishing in Any of the Lakes or Rivers in Arizona?

Yes, fishing is allowed in all of Arizona’s lakes and rivers. The state has a variety of fishing opportunities, from small streams to large reservoirs, which provide anglers with some of the best trout, bass, catfish, sunfish, and crappie fishing around. In addition, plenty of public access points throughout the state provide access to great fishing spots. Some multiple public lands and forests offer plenty of opportunities for anglers to enjoy their favorite sport. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful afternoon or an exciting adventure, Arizona offers something for everyone regarding fishing.

Some popular fishing spots are:

Saguaro Lake

This lake is a popular spot for bass and other species. It also has a boat launch ramp and campgrounds that offer plenty of amenities.

Patagonia Lake

If you enjoy trout, Patagonia Lake offers many opportunities to catch this fish. It is also home to various bird species, making it an ideal destination for nature lovers.

Apache Lake

This lake has some of the best fishing opportunities for bass and other warm-water species. It has two boat ramps and plenty of camping spots available.

Roosevelt Lake

This lake is located in the Tonto National Forest and is one of the largest reservoirs in Arizona. It offers a variety of recreational activities, including fishing, boating, camping, and hiking.

Apache Trout Wilderness

This wilderness area sits on the Mogollon Rim and provides excellent opportunities for catching trout. The area has several lakes, streams, and a variety of wildlife.

Summary of the Best Swimming Spots in Arizona

Here are the Best Swimming Spots in Arizona:

RankBest Swimming Spots
1Fossil Creek
2Slide Rock State Park
3West Clear Creek
4Wet Beaver Creek 
5Havasu Falls
6Lake Powell 
7Lake Pleasant 
8Saguaro Lake 
9Salt River
10Verde River 
11Tempe Town Lake 
12Watson Lake
13Bartlett Lake


Arizona is a state full of beauty and outdoor recreation. With its diverse geography, Arizona offers plenty of opportunities to explore the outdoors, including scenic beaches and lakes. Arizona has it all if you’re looking for a remote lake with sandy shores or a beach with breathtaking views. With its stunning landscapes and endless outdoor activities, Arizona is a great place to enjoy some time in nature. So grab your beach towel and head to one of Arizona’s many spectacular beaches or lakes. You won’t regret it!

The Featured Image

Fossil Springs
In addition to the infamous toilet bowl, there are cliff jumps, waterfalls, swimming holes, rock pools, and caverns at Fossil Springs.
© Jon Manjeot/

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About the Author

Heather Burdo is a digital marketing enthusiast who has written content for countless industries over the last decade. However, content related to animals, nature, and health has her heart. When she's not working her magic with content, she enjoys being with family, going for walks, camping, and gardening. Self-development is non-negotiable for her.

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