5 Beautiful Lakes Near Prescott Arizona for a Day Trip

Sharing is caring!

Summer is here and it’s hot but you can still get outdoors and enjoy the beauty Arizona has to offer. But how to keep cool in the heat?

Did you know there are 5 gorgeous lakes all within a short drive of Prescott?

Pack up your best picnic lunch and get yourself to the lake for hiking, kayaking, fishing, birding, or just staring at the mesmerizing water.

An afternoon or a full day at the lake will give you an energy boost and provide a mental reset. We all need some time with nature, now more than ever.

Now let’s have a look at these five beautiful lakes near Prescott Arizona. By the way, you can drive to any of the lakes in 20 minutes or less from Prescott.

Some of the activities available at these lakes include boating, kayaking, paddle boarding, fishing, hiking, birding, biking, and camping. For a cool waterfall hike in Prescott check out Wolf Creek Falls.

5 Beautiful Lakes Near Prescott Arizona

Watson Lake

  • 15 minutes from Prescott
  • Summer Hours: 7 am – 10 pm May through September
  • Fall/Winter Hours: 7 am – dusk October through April
  • Fee: $5 per vehicle/Wednesdays are FREE
  • Facilities: Boat launch, covered picnic areas, restrooms, fish cleaning stations, kayak rentals
  • Campgrounds: Small campground at the lake (showers)
  • Activities: Hiking, boating, fishing, kayaking, disc golf, birding

Seeing photos of Watson Lake is what cinched my decision to visit Prescott after my month in Tucson.

I wanted someplace with great hiking nearby and Prescott did not disappoint.

Watson Lake is my favorite lake to go hiking in Prescott. Because the Dells! The Granite Dells are incredible rock formations around the lake.

Read my full post about the hiking trails at Watson Lake here.

Large granite rock formations known as the Granite Dells (or simply “the Dells” to locals) make Watson Lake a beautiful lake to explore on the water or while hiking.

Hiking at Watson Lake Prescott AZ

Willow Lake

  • 15 minutes from Prescott
  • Summer Hours: 6 am until 10 pm Memorial Day to Labor Day
  • Fall/Winter Hours: 7 am until sunset
  • Fee: $5 per vehicle/Wednesdays are FREE
  • Facilities: Covered picnic areas, restrooms, boat ramp, fish cleaning station, kayak rentals
  • Nearby Campgrounds: small campground at Watson Lake (showers)
  • Activities: Birding, cycling, hiking, fishing, picnicking

Willow is one of the best Prescott lakes for birding so bring your binoculars. Boating is allowed on Willow Lake, but only non-gasoline motors.

And you can rent a canoe or kayak at Willow Lake so you can enjoy paddling around the water.

There are a few benches along the Willow Lake trail and ramadas with picnic tables so it’s a good place for a picnic lunch with wonderful views of the Granite Dells.

Willow Lake hiking trail at the Granite Dells Prescott

Granite Dells rock formations at Willow Lake

Goldwater Lake

  • 15 minutes from Prescott
  • Summer Hours: 6 am to 10 pm Memorial Day to Labor Day
  • Fall/Winter Hours: 7 am to sunset
  • Fee: $3 per vehicle/Wednesdays are FREE parking
  • Facilities: Boat launch, ramadas, restrooms, kayak rentals
  • Activities: Birding, hiking, fishing, volleyball, picnicking

Goldwater lake is another favorite for family outings. There is a playground for kids, sand volleyball court, canoe and kayak rentals, and picnic tables by the lake.

Hiking is great at Goldwater lake with trails along the lake and in the forest so you can get some shade on sunny days.

Kayaking Goldwater Lake Prescott

Goldwater Lake Prescott Arizona

Granite Basin Lake

  • 20 minutes from Prescott
  • Summer Hours: 6 am to 8 pm May 1 to September 30
  • Fall/Winter Hours: 7 am to 5 pm October 1 to end of February
  • Spring Hours: 7 am to 7 pm March 1 to April 30
  • Fee: $5 per vehicle/Wednesdays are FREE, Inter-agency pass (America the Beautiful pass)
  • Facilities: Restrooms
  • Nearby Campgrounds: Yavapai Campground
  • Activities: Non-motorized boating, fishing, hiking, birding, mountain biking, horseback riding, and camping

Granite Basin lake is in Prescott National Forest and it’s a small but beautiful lake, popular for fishing and birding.

Another big reason to visit Granite Basin lake is the incredible hiking trails you can enjoy starting from the lake or from Yavapai Campground if you are camping in the park.

Enjoy hikes through the forest or up to Granite Mountain, there are hiking trails for all skill levels.

Make sure you bring lots of water, snacks, sunscreen, and sunhat while hiking. In summer it’s best to start your hike early in the morning to avoid midday heat.

Go hang out at the lake and watch for great blue herons and other birds.

Kayaking Granite Basin Lake Prescott

Lynx Lake

  • 20 minutes from Prescott
  • Summer Hours: 6 am – 8 pm May 1 – September 30
  • Fall/Winter Hours: 7 am – 5 pm Oct 1 – Feb 28 and Mar 1 – Apr 30 7 am – 7 pm
  • Fee: $5 per vehicle/Wednesdays are FREE, Inter-agency pass (America the Beautiful pass)
  • Facilities: Store, restaurant, canoe/kayak/boat rentals
  • Nearby Campgrounds: Hilltop Campground and Lynx Campground
  • Activities: Paddle boarding, kayaking, boating, fishing, hiking, birding

Lynx Lake is popular with couples and families who want to enjoy a relaxing day at the lake. When the store and restaurant are open you don’t need to plan on bringing as much stuff with you.

Plus, there is a beautiful hiking trail around the lake.

Shoreline trail at Lynx Lake is wheelchair accessible on the west side. The east side is dirt and has a lot of rocks and roots on the trail so wear decent walking shoes.

Lynx Lake store and the Lynx Lake Café open Thursday through Sunday.

The store does not sell fishing licenses but see below for info on buying your fishing license online now.

Lynx Lake hiking trail dirt path

Lakeshore trail paved side at Lynx Lake

Fishing License in Arizona

You will need a valid fishing license if you plan to try your luck with fishing at any of  the lakes near Prescott. Get your Arizona Fishing License from the Arizona Game and Fish website now.

The fishing license is required for resident and non-resident anglers 10 years of age or older while fishing at any public accessible water in Arizona.

Types of fish in Prescott lakes include largemouth bass, bluegill, catfish, crappie, and sunfish.

Whether you are driving from Phoenix for a weekend in Prescott or just looking for an enjoyable day trip from Prescott these five beautiful lakes make it easy to have fun outdoors in Arizona.

Save it to Pinterest and SHARE!

5 Beautiful Lakes Prescott Arizona

Sharing is caring!

Tags: ,

About the Author

Susan Moore spent 7 months traveling solo around Southeast Asia back in the 90's. Returning to Canada she found a job working on rotation in Siberia Russia. She later moved to Austin Texas where she started a bookkeeping business, allowing her to work remotely. Currently Susan is in year 5 of a solo road trip around the USA and Canada, living a nomadic life, and writing about her experiences with a focus on hiking and cultural encounters. Read all about Susan » You can reach Susan Moore at Facebook or Twitter or Instagram

Post a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.