Veronica Samuels

Looking where to go kayaking in Sedona AZ? You are in the right place.

Unlike most of Arizona which dries up thanks to the rising temperatures, especially in the summer, Sedona is spared, thanks to its location and hence, many swimming holes in Sedona, and lakes retain water.

Surrounded by high mountains, if you want to escape the heat or cool off in the water, Kayaking in Sedona spots is a huge respite.

Also since there is a vast amount of snowmelt, along with preserving water almost throughout the year, you can also scour for many opportunities to kayak Sedona any time.

Summer is one of the best times to go on a Sedona kayaking adventure, but kayaking has no season, right?

If you wonder where to kayak in Sedona, AZ, there are plenty of places. 

You can join some of the many fantastic kayaking tours(recommendations mentioned in the post below) if you prefer a hassle-free kayak trip in Sedona.

Continue reading below for the ultimate Sedona kayaking guide, and experience the best kayaking in Sedona on your trip.



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

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

Kayaking in Sedona Az

But it is one of the largest lakes in Arizona thanks to its 600 acres of surface area and is one of the best spots for kayaking in Sedona.

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.

Kayaking in Sedona Az

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

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.


From Sedona, it takes almost 1.5 hours to reach Mormon Lake.

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.


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

Plan a trip to Watson Lake, one of the best spots for kayaking near Sedona, located just 4 miles from Prescott, to escape the scorching heat.

Enjoy hiking the many trails offering spectacular views of the Granite Dells rock formations around the lake via hikes or kayaking.

Best Sedona Arizona 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.

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 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.

kayaking near sedona

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, 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.


Goldwater Lake is a small lake located only 4 miles from the city and one of the most popular lakes for Sedona Kayaking.

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.

verde river kayak rentals

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.

Recommended – 11 Beautiful Lakes In Tucson In Arizona

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.


Willow Springs Lake, located near Woods Canyon Lake, is the closest lake to the town and one of the most popular lakes in Payson among locals and tourists alike.

Located on the Mogollon Rim and a part of the Rim Lakes, about a mile from the town, Willow Lakes is a welcome alternative to kayaking the Sedona rivers.

Willow Springs is a famous lake for fishing in summer when it gets crowded, and it is larger and deeper, making it a better habitat for rainbow and tiger trout.

Apart from these, Willow Springs Lake is also famous for largemouth bass, green sunfish, and smallmouth bass, and unlike the Woods Canyon, you can also access 

Willow Springs during winter months to enjoy ice fishing.

Apart from being a spot for kayaking in Sedona, you can rent a boat, or canoe in the many nearby shops, although there is a limit to boating as only small engines and electric ones are permitted.


If you are driving the Mogollon Rim, look for the Willow Springs Lake sign on Forest Road 149 about a mile after cresting the Mogollon Rim. 


The Dead Horse Ranch State Park, about ten miles from Jerome is a unique historic site continuously occupied since 8,000 BC. 

It is one of the best things to do in Jerome Az for outdoor lovers and families.

Dead Horse State Park is only a short drive from Sedona so you can easily spend a weekend here enjoying the park.

things to see in Jerome az

It may not appear so, but it is one of the best spots for kayaking in Sedona, thanks to its two lagoons, filled with water even during the hottest days.

Besides kayaking, Kids can enjoy horseback riding, and wildlife watching, while you can enjoy fishing, biking, camping, and hiking around the Verde River lagoons.

Spot grey fox, coyote, javelina and many beautiful birds.

You can also stay overnight in one of the riverside log cabins in Dead Horse Ranch.


Kayaking on the Verde River is the best place to go river kayaking in Sedona, Arizona.

Verde is among the best lakes near Sedona known for being home to magnificent wildlife, fishing, birdwatching, railway lines, and historical Arizona monuments. 

As the name indicates, if you want a flatwater kayaking experience head to the flatwater section.

Lakes in Sedona, Arizona

Just a short but stunning 30-minute drive from downtown Sedona, the Verde Calm Flat Section is 23 miles of tranquil, flat Class I water- perfect for Verde River kayaking.

The calm section begins at the Bridgeport River Access in Cottonwood to the Black Canyon River Access Point in the Prescott National Forest.

This is the place for beginner paddlers that can try dope paddling, surrounded by gorgeous limestone hills, prehistoric caves and the beautiful Prescott National Forest.


The Whitewater Section is another destination in Verde and is the best spot if you want an adventurous journey on the river.

As you encounter rapids including turns, dips, and thrilling surges, you will also be treated to stunning views of the wilderness on your ride.

This section, which begins at Beasley Flat, about ten miles south of Camp Verde, features rapids from Class II all the way to Class IV for nearly 10 miles to an access point next to the Gap Creek Trailhead and is the best one if you are an experienced adventure lover.


Tonto National Forest, the largest of the six national forests in Arizona is one of the best places for kayaking near Sedona.

Besides kayaking, there are tons of recreational outdoor activities you can enjoy, including a hike, bike, and camping on the beautiful and best lakes in Tonto National Forest, also near Phoenix. 

Lakes in Sedona AZ

You can easily spend a few days exploring the many lakes in the forest, hiking the many trails as there are plenty of things to do.

Boating, rafting, tubing, sailing, swimming, and water skiing are other water sports you will love for cool summer days.


Willow Beach: Black Canyon Kayak Half Day Tour-No Shuttle

Kayak Tour on the Verde River

PRIVATE Guided River kayaking on the Verde River

Half Day Private Guided Kayak Bass Fishing on The Verde River




Yes, you can kayak in Sedona, Arizona.

While whitewater rafting is a rigorous adventurous experience, kayaking near Sedona is a better choice for something milder and yet, extremely fun.


The weather in Sedona varies throughout the year.

Although the summer months in the desert can be brutal, if you can bear the temperatures long enough to get near water, it is one of the best times for Sedona kayaking.

If you want pleasant outdoor temperatures, the best time for kayaking in Sedona is spring and fall.

To avoid crowds though, the winter months are an excellent time for Sedona kayak tours.


Yes, Sedona kayak rentals are available near the lakes and around the forest areas.


There are many local companies for guided kayak tours of Sedona. Here are my recommendations:


No! You can easily kayak in Sedona, even without a prior experience.

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