Friday, February 28, 2014

Boat Tour of Lake Pleasant

Lake Pleasant

As part of the Volunteer Appreciation activities this week, our Park Supervisor arranged for a boat tour of the lake for the Lake Pleasant and Cave Creek volunteers.

Everyone got lifejackets and we headed down to the shoreline below the picnic area,     Meeting the boat









where we waited for the boats to pick us up.

Everybody's ready for the boat tour

Uh, oh . . . how are we all going to fit on this boat??!!

Is that our boat??!!

OK, that’s not our boat . . . the county has two maintenance boats that we were taking out.  They weren’t the prettiest, but they floated, and held lots of people! 

   Our floating chariot










We loaded up the boats, and made our way towards the dam at the south end of the lake.

New Waddell Dam

The New Waddell Dam, which forms Lake Pleasant, is part of the Central Arizona Project, which diverts water from the Colorado River into central Arizona, via a series of aqueducts.  The lake provides a storage reservoir for this major water supply, and the level of the lake is raised and lowered via these two pumping stations.

Water pumping stations











The park’s Visitor Center sits high on a hill overlooking the dam and the campground.

Visitor Center

Roadrunner Campground










The hill is also the location of a cell tower that provides our excellent Verizon service in the park.  We continued past the dam, and got a good look at the Marina and RV Park on the east side of the lake.

Marina & RV Park

There are lots of huge houseboats in this marina!

As we continued along the eastern shoreline, we could see the undeveloped north end of the lake in the distance,

Looking north

as well as the campground to the west.

Looking back at the campground










This popular area for water recreation has a feature that I’ve never seen before . . . a floating restroom on the lake!

Floating Restroom

See, I wasn't kidding!


Nobody got off the boat to verify the function, but David assured us that it was a fully functioning restroom.  It’s definitely more convenient than having to go all the way back to the Marina, that’s for sure!







The northeast shoreline is part of a conservation area, and there is no access to the water.  There is, however, occasionally evidence of trespassers . . . like this makeshift shelter on the shoreline.

Looks like somebody is building a shelter out there

Also to the northeast are the Bradshaw Mountains and the Agua Fria River, which is a secondary source of water to the lake.

Near the Agua Fria

We drove past the Agua Fria inlet to the lake, but couldn’t go into the river because it’s closed in the winter for bald eagle nesting.  We didn’t see any eagles that morning, but David did tell us about a hiking trail along the Agua Fria where we might be able to see them.  We’ll have to go check that out soon – maybe after this weekend’s rain moves through.

Boat # 2


The other boat pulled up alongside us then, and we discussed whether we should continue around the north end of the lake or head back.  Everybody voted to continue the tour!


It was a beautiful morning, and now that we were facing into the sun, it was comfortably warm.  Tom was certainly enjoying himself!

Tom & Leece enjoying the boat tour

This area of the lake is more rugged, and sheltered by the mountains, and it was noticeably calmer. 

Rugged shoreline

The fishermen really seemed to like this area.

Fishermen like the quiet end of the lake 

There’s even another floating restroom for their convenience!

Another Floating Restroom











We drove around several small islands in the lake . . . Balanced Rock Island,     Balanced Rock Island










and Blue Heron Island.

Blue Heron Island

Blue Heron Nest


We didn’t see any blue herons on the island, but we did see lots of nests.  When we arrived back at the boat launch, we finally saw a blue heron.



Great Blue Heron












As we arrived back on the west side of the lake, we started to see more evidence of development, including several RVs parked along the shoreline, and the Scorpion Bay Marina.

Scorpion Bay Marina

The Operations Center for the park is located on a high bluff overlooking the lake.  The entire Parks & Recreation Department for Maricopa County is n the process of moving their offices from downtown Phoenix to this building.  I think it would be a great place to work . . . if you have to work!

Operations Center - the new home of the Parks Dept.

We ended our tour at the ten lane boat ramp, which was just a short walk back along the trail to the picnic area.

Ten Lane Boat Ramp

There were just a few people at the boat ramp on Wednesday morning – nothing like the crowds we get on the weekends! 

It was a beautiful day to be out on the water though, and all of the volunteers really enjoyed the boat tour. 

Beautiful day for boating


  1. Nice tour of a pretty lake. Things always look so different from the water!! Love the floating restroom idea;o))

  2. What a nice boat tour. Guess we need to go further north in our kayaks. Bet the desert is liking the rain, it sure needs it. How much longer are you at Lake Pleasant? Becki

    1. Definitely calmer at the north end of the lake. There's another entrance to the park and a smaller boat ramp up that way, too. Just stay on Castle Hot Springs a little further. One more month to go for us . . . this winter has flown by!


Thanks for reading! We'd love to hear your comments!