Veronica Samuels

If you are looking for some fantastic lakes near Prescott AZ, you are in the right place. Nestling at an elevation of 5,200 feet and surrounded by Prescott National Forest, Prescott is known for outdoor adventures, abundant natural beauty, wildlife and plenty of things to do and see in the mountains. And one of the top attractions includes crystal-clear Prescott area lakes.

Summer in Arizona makes you take refuge in its many stunning lakes where you can cool off with a swim, enjoy canoeing, kayaking, SUP and boating with your kids, or pack a picnic. 

Located about a 1.5-hour drive north of the Phoenix area, Prescott Lakes offer a cool respite from the summer heat in the desert region. 

Lakes near Prescott AZ are perfect for outdoor hikers looking to hike, bike or enjoy camping overnight, gazing at the stars at night.

Whether you are looking for lakes in Prescott to beat the heat or a weekend getaway with your kids, in this post, I share all about the beautiful lakes near Prescott Arizona.



  • Distance from Prescott –  4 miles
  • Driving Duration – 15 minutes
  • Activities – Fishing, Canoeing, SUP, Picnics, Kayaking, Hiking, Birdwatching, and Boating

Goldwater Lake is a small lake located only 4 miles from the city and one of the most popular lakes near Prescott AZ.

Surrounded by a lush pine forest and close to the city, it is ideal for a picnic with your family or enjoying all the water activities.

Swimming is not permitted. You can enjoy kayaking, canoeing, hiking and boating. Only boats with electric motors are permitted, along with kayaks and canoes. Kayak and canoe rentals are available.

Lakes in Prescott AZ

The Arizona Game and Fish Department stock the lake with rainbow trout, Largemouth bass, crappie, channel catfish, bluegill and sunfish.

If you love hiking, take the trail around the lake, an easy trail doable by kids and pets as well as overlooking beautiful views of the lake. 

The trail around the lake also connects with other trails in the Prescott National Forest.

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The lake is for day use only. There is a playground for kids, a sand volleyball court, picnic tables, grills, a volleyball court, horseshoe pits, fishing docks, and restrooms by the lake.

There is a $3 parking fee.


If you’re traveling from the downtown area, head east on Gurley Street, south on Mount Vernon Street, and travel approximately four miles to the lake.


  • Distance from Prescott –  6 miles
  • Driving Duration – 15 minutes
  • Activities – Fishing, Canoeing, SUP, Picnics, Kayaking, Hiking, Swimming, Birding, and Boating

One of the closest lakes near Prescott AZ, for outdoor adventure lovers is Watson Lake, renowned for its magnificent, large rock formations Granite Dells. 

Plan a trip to Watson Lake, located just 4 miles from Prescott, not only to escape the scorching heat but also to enjoy hiking around the many trails offering spectacular views of the Granite Dells rock formations around the lake via hikes or kayaking.

Watson Lake offers a packed day of activities for families and groups with something for everyone, including fishing, boating, kayaking, canoeing, hiking, rock climbing, camping and day picnicking.

Anglers can fish Carp, catfish, crappie and largemouth bass.

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There are two boat launches at the lake, as well as canoe and kayak rentals available. Note that swimming is prohibited in Watson Lake.

You can access Watson Woods via the lake, apart from the giant boulders of the Granite Dells, the iconic attraction of the Lake.

If you are traveling with kids, I highly recommend heading to the Watson Woods Riparian Preserve nearby.

It is a beautiful spot for excellent birdwatching as it is home to hundreds of bird species, including eagles and pelicans.

For hikers, there are two popular trails Peavine and Iron King Trails, both easy to moderate hikes taking to stunning vista points and forested mountains around the lake.  

During the summer months, campsites are available for visitors, and you can use restrooms, showers, picnic tables, grills, and fish cleaning stations.

The Parking Fee is $3 per vehicle, with Wednesdays being the free parking day.


  • Distance from Prescott –  9 miles
  • Driving Duration – 20 minutes
  • Activities – Fishing, Canoeing, SUP, Picnics, Kayaking, Hiking, and Boating

Nestled among pines and boulders of Prescott’s iconic Granite Mountain, Granite Basin Lake located in Granite Basin Recreation Area is one of the best lakes near Prescott AZ for families for a day trip or even a weekend getaway.

Granite Basin Lake, located in Prescott National Forest is a small (5-acre) lake.

You can enjoy hiking, backpacking, horse riding, non-motorized boating, rock climbing, birdwatching, fishing, camping, and picnicking. 

Granite Basin lake is incredible when it comes to hiking trails that lead through the forest and up to Granite Mountain. 

You can choose from the easier to the most challenging ones. Yavapai Campground is the nearby campground. The parking fee is $5 per vehicle.


  • Distance from Prescott –  75 miles
  • Driving Duration – 1.5 hours
  • Activities – Fishing, Canoeing, SUP, Picnics, Kayaking, Hiking, Birdwatching, and Boating

Willow Lakes is one of the best lakes near Prescott AZ, also known for its stunning surroundings and rich wildlife, besides being one of the top recreational lakes to escape the scorching heat of Arizona summers.

You can easily spend a whole day or more with your family at Willow Lake thanks to the plenty of activities in the water and around the lake to keep you busy.

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Biking, hiking and birdwatching at Willow Lake are pretty famous. Willow Lake holds Largemouth Bass, crappies, Catfish, Bluegill and Sunfish.

Swimming in the lake is not permitted, but you can rent a small boat(only electric), a kayak or canoe, enjoy paddling, and SUP.

Note that you have to bring your kayak or canoe since there aren’t any rentals available.

Lakes near Prescott

Willow Lake’s water level fluctuates throughout the year as it is rain dependent, so it is best to check for water levels before planning your trip.

Willow Lake is a perfect spot for a relaxing picnic admiring the beautiful views of the Granite mountains.

In summer, you can access all the day-use facilities, including restrooms, ramadas, picnic tables, fish cleaning stations, children’s playground and softball fields. The parking fee is $3 per vehicle.


Willow Lake is about 20 miles from Talking Rock and located off Willow Creek Road on Heritage Park Road within miles of downtown Prescott. 


  • Distance from Prescott –  7 miles
  • Driving Duration – 15 minutes
  • Activities – Fishing, Canoeing, SUP, Picnics, Kayaking, Hiking, Birding, Paddle boarding , Birding, and Boating

Unlike the other lakes near Prescott AZ, which are massive, Lynx Lake is far smaller, spanning 55 acres.

But it is one of the most crowded Prescott Lakes located in the Prescott National Forest, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors for many reasons.

At a 5,500-foot elevation, you can enjoy the cool weather around the lake surrounded by the ponderosa pine forests in Lynx Lake in Bradshaw Mountains high country, a fabulous way to get away from the heat.

It is conveniently located within a 20-minute drive Southeast of the city, and there are many activities for everyone. 

Though swimming is prohibited, you can enjoy boating, fishing, camping, hiking, kayaking, sailing, and canoeing.

You can enjoy fishing rainbow trout, largemouth bass, bluegill, sunfish, crappie and catfish.

At the Lynx Lake Marina, you can rent canoes, kayaks or pedal boats.

If you are looking for a hike, check out the Lakeshore Trail.

This is a 2-mile-long easy trail around the lake where you will be treated to fantastic views of the shoreline and the forested mountains.

You will even spot many birds on your trail.

The Lynx Campground has 39 sites, and the Hilltop Campground south of the lake has 38 camping sites. Each campground has toilets and drinking water but no hookups.

The campgrounds are open from April through October.

You can also camp at some places around the shoreline of the lake.

You can enjoy gold panning at the nearby Salida Gultch Trailhead along Lynx Creek open to the public.

You must bring your own pan and all holes must be backfilled.


After leaving the city to head to Prescott Valley. Head east on Walker Road and follow the signs to Lynx Lake.


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