Dip into desert lakes

Even in dry times, Arizona has plenty of water to play in

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That said, the best way to visit the lakes is to be on them ― or in them. All four have marinas that offer a variety of boat rentals, including waterskiing packages. Anglers like to get out early or late in the day for bass, walleye, or crappie. Tour boats like the Dolly Steamboat cruise the remote reaches of Saguaro and Canyon Lakes, both of which are about 10 miles long. The cruises offer opportunities to spot not only herons and bighorn sheep but also bald eagles and mule deer.

The headwaters of the Salt River are in the snowpacked reaches of White Mountain in eastern Arizona, but by April or May, the lakes' water temperatures have warmed enough to warrant dipping or lazy bobbing on inner tubes. The best swimming sites are at Butcher Jones Beach on Saguaro Lake and Canyon Lake's Acacia picnic grounds. At Apache and Roosevelt Lakes, the best sites are sandy coves, accessible by boat.

The lakes don't offer much in the way of scenic lakeshore trails for hiking enthusiasts. One notable exception: a 2 1/2-mile-long (one-way) path that leaves Butcher Jones Beach and skirts along Saguaro Lake's edge and through the desert. And Roosevelt and Canyon Lakes both offer limited hikes.

The lack of shoreline trails does not seem to be a big issue with overheated visitors. After all, it's not a bad thing to sit a spell and allow the simple beauty of wavelets lapping on the desert shore to lull you into a meditative mode.



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