Veronica Samuels

There are many fantastic lakes near Flagstaff, whether you are looking for a day trip from the city or a camping weekend in one of the lakes in Flagstaff.

Surrounded by ponderosa pine forest, desert, and mountains and elevations above 7,000 feet, Flagstaff is no wonder one of the top destinations for families looking to escape the blistering heat of the Arizona sun.

The lakes near Flagstaff are renowned for fishing as they are home to a wide variety, including Northern Pike, Rainbow Trout, Brook Trout, Walleye, Channel Catfish, Yellow Bass, and Sunfish.

Enjoy magnificent views of the San Francisco Peaks and the Ponderosa Pines as you reel in the best fish at one of the many stunning Flagstaff area lakes. 

You may even spot elk, deer, and many types of birds including bald eagles during spring and summer.

Browse through these beautiful lakes in Flagstaff, Arizona, for the best time to visit, tips, and all other details to have a fantastic trip with your family this summer.

For knowing all about the beautiful lakes in the Grand Canyon State, check this guide to 35 Prettiest Arizona Lakes For Swimming, Boating, Fishing and Picnics.


Being an outdoor adventure paradise, you can visit Flagstaff any time of the year.

Summer is the most crowded season, naturally, thanks to an elevation of about 7,000 feet, which means the summers are cool and refreshing. 

But many lakes near Flagstaff AZ and the best William AZ lakes rely heavily on rains and melting snow in the higher elevations.

Hence the depths of the lakes can vary greatly depending on the yearly rain and melting snow.

Spring is the second most popular month if you want to enjoy all water activities except for swimming as the water will be very cold. 

The landscapes around the lakes near Flagstaff transform into a magical paradise thanks to the sudden blooms of Arizona wildflowers, making this season ideal for hiking and camping.

Fall is my favourite month, though, as the burst of golden, orange, and yellow and colder temperatures before the snow are incredibly beautiful. 

Plus, you can avoid crowds to a great extent and also secure good deals on hotels and tours.

Winter is also a great time for snow recreation, family tubing, and snow-skiing, although not all are open to visitors. 

Check before you plan a trip to any of these lakes near Flagstaff no matter the time of the year for permitted activities, camping availabilities, weather, and road closures.



  • Distance from Flagstaff – 10 miles
  • Driving Duration – 15 minutes
  • Activities – Hiking, Fishing, Kayaking and Boating

Lake Mary is one of the two major reservoirs and home to the two best lakes near Flagstaff, one of them being Lower Lake Mary.

Lower Lake Mary is the smaller of the twin lakes and is a seasonal of the two, as, during the long dry spells, the lake disappears.

After snowmelt and rainfalls, it brims with life, attracting water adventure lovers and picnicking families for a fun day.

Enjoy a relaxing picnic at the many shaded areas in the Lower Lake Mary Picnic Area at the northwestern end of the lake, admiring the stunning views.

There are many picnic tables and cooking grills under ramadas. 

The Lake Mary picnic area is open from May through September and is a day-use area only.

Vault toilets are present, although no drinking water is available at the lake.

Enjoy fishing Northern Pike, Walleye, and catfish, boating, and biking around the lake apart from picnics. You can spot elk, fowl, great blue herons and bald eagles.

There is a boat-motor size limitation on Lower Lake Mary, you can bring one of no bigger than ten horsepower.

During the high-use season from mid-April through mid-October, there is a fee to access the day area, and there are no reservations possible, so plan to get here early during the peak months.

Lower Mary Lake remains inaccessible during winter as the road gets closed.


Take Lake Mary Road or Forest Highway 3 from Flagstaff.


  • Distance from Flagstaff – 17 miles
  • Driving Duration – 25 minutes
  • Activities – Swimming, Camping, Hiking, Fishing, Canoeing, Kayaking and Boating

One of the most popular lakes near Flagstaff is Upper Lake Mary, which can be conveniently accessed within 20 minutes from downtown.

Upper Lake Mary is the largest among the twin lakes near Flagstaff.

Fishing and boating are the two main popular activities for families in Upper Mary Lake besides swimming.

You can bring any kind of boat, from jet boats to rubber rafts, canoes and sailboats, which is the main reason for the immense popularity of this long, narrow reservoir.

Lakes near Flagstaff AZ

The lake has Northern Pike, Channel Catfish, Black Crappie, Walleye, Yellow Perch, and Yellow Bass for fishing.

Water lovers should try waterskiing, windsurfing, wakeboarding, canoeing, SUP, and Kayaking. 

There are plenty of spots for wildlife watching, birdwatching, biking, and photography if you want to get out of the water.

Upper Lake Mary Boat Launch and Picnic Area is a popular day-use area. 

There are two paved boat ramps at the parking area with picnic tables, ramadas, barbeque grills, and vault toilets in this area. But there is no drinking water available.

During the high-use season from mid-April through mid-October, there is a fee to access the day area, and there are no reservations possible, so plan to get here early during the peak months.

Lake View and Pine grove are nearby campgrounds for camping overnight.


  • Distance from Flagstaff – 15 miles
  • Driving Duration – 30 minutes
  • Activities – Swimming, Camping, Hiking, Fishing, Kayaking and Boating

Although smaller, Marshall Lake is one of the best lakes near Flagstaff for families and couples looking for a day outing. 

The water levels in Marshall Lake fluctuate throughout the year as it relies heavily on the snowmelt in the nearby mountains and rainfall.

During the months of spring and fall, Marshall Lake is one of the popular spots for fishing different types of trout and Northern Pike.

On the east side of the lake, you can find primitive campgrounds offering exceptional views of the peaks to enjoy. 

Lakes near Flagstaff

Note that there are no drinking water or vault toilets at the site.

The campground opens in early May and closes in mid-October. Camping next to the lake is prohibited.

The area becomes a hotspot every season for migrating birds and native bald eagles, coots, ospreys, waterfowls, and herons. 

You can launch smaller boats under 10hp, ride mountain bikes, or set off on one of the paved trails around Marshall Lake for splendid views.


From Flagstaff, you need to get on Forest Highway 3 or Lake Mary Road. Turn east on Forest Road 128 and continue for about 3 miles to the lake. 

The last stretch is unpaved, so best tackle it with a high-clearance vehicle, and it may be closed in the winter.


  • Distance from Flagstaff – 30 miles
  • Driving Duration – 40 minutes
  • Activities – Swimming, Camping, Hiking, Fishing, Canoeing, Kayaking and Boating

Located in the northern part of Arizona, Mormon Lake is one of the best lakes near Flagstaff and worth adding to a day trip for a relaxing or water adventures-packed outing with your kids.

Unlike the other Flagstaff lakes, Mormon Lake is shallow, with its depth reaching only 10 feet or 3 metres, and usually dries almost entirely during the dry season.

lakes in Flagstaff for kayaking

But it is one of the largest lakes in Arizona as the lake gets quickly filled in spring and after rains, attracting hundreds of families wanting to enjoy water activities and beautiful views.

It is one of the famous lakes to see wildlife and birds, especially during spring, against the stunning backdrops of the San Francisco Peaks.

In summer, you can enjoy fishing, boating, windsurfing, hiking, and biking.

You can rent mountain bikes, and during winter, rent snowmobiles and cross-country skis at the resort near the western shore of the lake.

Have lunch or dinner at the famous steak house on the premises of the Mormon Lake Lodge, known for its excellent delicacies apart from the steak.

Although there are no restrictions to the boat length, it is best to bring only small boats as the lake is shallow. 

lakes in Flagstaff

Mormon lake is a better choice for camping, picnics, and enjoying the secluded landscapes rather than water activities, as there is little depth.

Dairy Springs and Double Springs Campground are the two prominent campsites near Mormon Lake, with over 40 single-unit campsites available.

There are tables, fire rings, cooking grills, drinking water and vault toilets at the campgrounds.

I highly recommend checking out the hiking trails near the campsites that lead to stunning overlooks.

Campground Season is between May 1st through the end of September at both campgrounds. It is best to book in advance as the sites quickly get filled up.


Drive south from Flagstaff 25 miles on Forest Highway 3 (Lake Mary Road) to the Forest Road 90 intersection. Turn west on FR 90 and drive about 4 miles to the lake.


  • Distance from Flagstaff – 25 miles
  • Driving Duration – 15 minutes
  • Activities – Fishing, Kayaking, Boating, Camping, Windsurfing, Wildlife watching, Biking, and Photography.

Ashurst Lake is one of the best lakes near Flagstaff about 25 miles southeast of the city, and among the top natural lakes in Arizona, spanning 570 acres and about 12 feet in depth, surrounded by beautiful landscapes, including the gorgeous views of San Francisco Peaks.

Ashurst Lake surprisingly holds a lot of water even during summer months, making it a perfect spot for cooling off by swimming in the waters or relaxing in the shaded areas with a picnic lunch.

It is one of the most popular fishing lakes in Arizona as the lake is regularly stocked with catfish, rainbow trout, brown trout, bluegill northern pike and brook trout to thrive. 

Mountain biking and hiking trails around the lake are ideal for outdoor lovers, while water sports enthusiasts can enjoy a paddle, trying canoeing, windsurfing, rafting, or rowboats. 

Smaller motor boats are allowed, and you can enjoy fishing from the boat with your kids reeling in the trout.

lakes around Flagstaff

There are 50 single-unit campsites at the two developed campgrounds, Ashurst Lake and Forked Pine, with 25 sites in each equipped with tables, fire rings, cooking grills, drinking water and vault toilets.

Camping is one of the favourite activities among families to pitch your tent or park your camper in the shade admiring the beautiful views of the lake.

Campground season is from early May through mid-October, so plan your trip according if you want to camp overnight at Ashurst Lake.


Drive south 20 miles from Flagstaff on Forest Highway 3 or Lake Mary Road, At the junction, turn east and continue for about 4 miles on Forest Road 82E to arrive at Ashurst Lake.



  • Distance from Flagstaff – 33 miles
  • Driving Duration – 40 minutes
  • Activities – Camping, Hiking, Fishing, Canoeing, Kayaking and Boating

Kaibab Lake sits at an elevation of 6,800 feet, among the diverse landscape of Kaibab National Forest of northern Arizona, in the Kaibab National Forest is nestled on the stunning Colorado Plateau.

This beautiful lake, a hotspot among outdoor lovers, is surrounded by pine forests and grass lining its shores, while wildflowers add extra colours to the landscape in late spring and early summer.

It is one of the easily accessible lakes near Flagstaff for fishing and picnicking.

Thanks to its excellent location close to other cultural and historical sites, you can easily add it as a stop along the way.

No swimming is allowed in Kaibab Lake. Boats under 10hp are allowed. 

Lakes near Williams AZ

It is a fantastic spot to fish for Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, Channel Catfish, Bluegill, Black crappies, and Largemouth Bass stocked here regularly.

You can fish from the accessible fishing pier or the small boat ramp.

You need an Arizona state fishing license to fish, as it is a mandatory rule in all Arizona lakes. If you do not have one, you can get one nearby White Horse Lake.

Kaibab Lake Campground is one of the popular camping sites in Arizona for its stunning location, plenty of beautiful trails accessible from the sites, and of course, the gorgeous views of the lake and the surrounding pine forests. 

Camping is also famous because of the excellent clear skies at night, perfect for stargazing, allowing you to enjoy spectacular views of summer stars.

lakes near Flagstaff

The campground offers individual, double and group campsites with picnic tables and campfire rings. 

The campground has limited drinking water and vault toilets. For fees and reservations, go to this website.  


From Williams, Arizona, take I-40 east to exit 165. Turn north onto State Highway 64 toward Grand Canyon and continue for a mile to arrive at the campground. The entrance is on the left.


  • Distance from Flagstaff – 46 miles
  • Driving Duration – 1 hour
  • Activities – Fishing, Kayaking and Boating

Stoneman Lake is another shallow lake among the natural lakes in Arizona. It is one of the best lakes near Flagstaff if you want a ride to a secluded lake.

Stoneman Lake stretches about 46 miles south of Flagstaff, with magnificent views of ponderosa pine covering, Gambel oak, and Arizona white oak-covered mountains.

This medium-sized lake attracts many migrating birds when it is filled with water.

You can enjoy taking in the blissful views at the picnic tables at shaded sites nearby.

There are vault toilets available.

There is also a boat ramp at the day-use area on the lake’s northern shore from where you can launch small boats. There are no campgrounds at Stoneman Lake.

Note that the last stretch of the road is on an unpaved path and you need a high-clearance vehicle to reach it.


  • Distance from Flagstaff – 37 miles
  • Driving Duration – 1 hour
  • Activities – Swimming, Camping, Hiking, Fishing, Kayaking and Boating

If you want to leave the crowded lakes near Flagstaff, you will love KinniKnick Lake, the most remote of the lakes near Flagstaff.

Located about an hour away southeast, this lake is surrounded by pinon and juniper pines and the gorgeous views of the San Francisco Peaks in the horizon.

Water levels in Kinnikinick Lake, located within the Coconino natural forest, can vary depending on rainfall and snow-melt run-off from the surrounding mountains, so sometimes the lake dries up completely during the summer.

Kinnikinick Lakes, smaller than Ashurst Lake, offers the perfect spot for kayaking, boating(only small boats under 10hp), biking, SUP, canoeing, or enjoying fishing with friends and family as you camp at the shores of the lake.

lakes near flagstaff arizona

During the fall season, apart from the spectacular colour of the foliage, you can spot bald eagles, antelopes, deer, and elk within the forest.

The lake is regularly stocked with Rainbow, Brook, Brown Trout, Walleye and Catfish. You need an Arizona state fishing license to fish in any of the lakes near Flagstaff. 

The Kinnikinick Campground is next to the Lake, with only ten sites, it is a day-use-only site, and overnight camping is prohibited within one mile of the lake. 

Note that during the winter, roads leading into the area are closed to vehicles.


  • Distance from Flagstaff – 38 miles
  • Driving Duration – 55 minutes
  • Activities – Fishing, Kayaking and Boating

Located close to Williams, Dogtown Lake gets its name from the extensive prairie dog towns that once covered open areas near the lake.

It is one of the offbeat lakes near Flagstaff that you can add to your itinerary if you are traveling towards William. 

Lake and Pond Fishing, Kayaking and Canoeing are popular activities. Single electric boat motors can be rented.

Enjoy fishing for Rainbow trout, brown trout, black crappie, largemouth bass, and bluegill. No swimming is allowed in the lake.

Get on a guided nature trail around the lake, offering stunning views.

Although spring is the most popular season, as the nearby campground opens up for overnight camping, it is one of the few lakes near Flagstaff that are open and accessible during winter.

The views are incredible as snow carpets the area.

Day use area is available year-round, but if you need to camp, you have to make reservations online in advance.


From Williams, turn south on Fourth Street or FR 173-Perkinsville Road for 3.5 miles to arrive at Forest Road 140. Here turn left and continue for 3 miles to FR 132, which leads to Dogtown Lake.


  • Distance from Flagstaff – 37 miles
  • Driving Duration – 38 minutes
  • Activities – Fishing, Kayaking and Boating

Located in the Williams Ranger District, one of the famous fishing lakes near Flagstaff is Cataract Lake, about one mile northwest of Williams.

Unlike the other Flagstaff lakes, Cataract Lake is open seasonally for day use for limited days, and you can easily reach Cataract Lakes in under 40 minutes.

The day-use area is new and well-developed, with picnic tables, shaded areas, and a boat ramp.

No swimming is allowed in the Cataract Lake.

But fishing is prevalent as the lake gets stocked with trout and catfish, and you can also spot many types of birds during the migration season.


If you are traveling from Interstate 40, take exit 161, where you have to turn right onto Golf Course Drive if coming from the east.

After passing under the railroad tracks, turn right immediately and continue for about a mile.

From Williams, turn north onto 7th Street. After crossing the railroad tracks, turn west at the first road and continue for a mile.



Little America Hotel Flagstaff – Just off I-40, this stunning hotel with an outdoor pool is located on 500 acres of Ponderosa Pine forest.  

This hotel, with thousands of high-rated reviews, is popular among families and couples.

Free transport services to Flagstaff Pulliam Airport are offered during limited hours. Check out more details here.

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