I’ve been living in Arizona for 20 years. I feel like I’ve enjoyed a majority of what the Grand Canyon State has to offer, but up until recently I had never been to the “local” lake in the greater Phoenix area – Lake Pleasant. Lake Pleasant is located in Peoria, AZ and it’s known for being “the party lake.” I suppose this is one of the reasons I hadn’t checked it out. Unlike the Midwest, not many people own boats in the desert, and it’s not exactly a quick drive to get to water. However, I was dying to get back out on the lake for kayaking after Wynston and I had a blast in Payson kayaking for the first time. My best friend and I decided to check out Lake Pleasant with our dogs since it’s one of the closest lakes around (about an hour drive).
Kayaking With Dogs at Lake Pleasant
When we first showed up to the lake area, we decided to check out the shore first. Andria wanted to see how her dog, Lola, would do with the water. Turns out she’s an absolute champion with it! There were people camping with RVs and tents along the shoreline. I didn’t know you could camp there, so that was a welcome discovery. The water was a perfect temperature. We were there at 7am, so it was cool enough outside to enjoy 45 minutes on the shore. Even Wynston put his tootsies in the water, which I was happy about. He loves being out on the water, but he doesn’t really like swimming.
Around 8am we made our way to the kayak rentals. Lake Pleasant boasts two major marinas, where you can store boats year round. We chose to use Scorpion Bay Marina. There we saw house boats, yachts, fishing boats and everything in between. You can rent pontoon and speed boats for larger parties of people. We saw a few large groups of people renting boats, beer and snacks in hand. We paid for our kayaks, got ready and loaded up.
The rental kayaks at Lake Pleasant are ocean kayaks, so they are open-faced instead of enclosed. The single kayak felt bigger and it had more space for “stuff.” Although I felt less protected and more vulnerable to waves, it did feel very sturdy. It had a nice chair-like apparatus for my back, which I liked. Wynston had plenty of space to lay down with a towel. I still can’t decide which type of kayak I like better, but I think an ocean kayak might be best for a large dog.
Immediately when we boarded our kayaks and took off we saw wild donkeys! Yes, that’s right. A large, wild pack of burrows was on the mountain in front of us. I’d never seen anything like it. It was an incredible sight. We even got to see baby donkeys! It was super neat.
Lake Pleasant kayaking was MUCH different than our experience at Woods Canyon Lake. Since there was a marina to maneuver around and large boats heading in and out of it, we had to battle wake and waves from the docks. It was much more of a work out and it even got stressful at times. The lake wasn’t busy by any means but I still got nervous a couple of times. There are areas that boats need to stay out of, but attempting to go around the docks was difficult. If we kayak at Lake Pleasant again, we’ll take a different route out of the marina.
Although Wynston and I enjoyed being out on the water, it didn’t offer the serenity or peace that Woods Canyon Lake does. The desert landscape isn’t exactly appealing since I look at it everyday, and the sound and sight of large boats coming at us was slightly frightening. For me it’s worth it to drive an extra 30-60 minutes for the kayaking experience that Woods Canyon Lake in Payson offers.
As usual, Wynston seemed to thoroughly enjoy his time. Nothing phased him and I think he liked seeing our friends next to us on a kayak! We did pass a few other kayakers, at which point Lola got SO excited that she kinda jumped/slipped off their kayak. Luckily Lola had her Ruffwear life vest on, so crisis was adverted 🙂
So will we return to Lake Pleasant? Absolutely. I really want to try camping on the shoreline when the weather gets cooler. If we kayak there again, we’ll take a less populated route where we don’t have to go around the marina. I prefer a more relaxed day of kayaking, like we got in Payson. Ultimately I’d like to find more bodies of water that allow kayaking and no large boats.
Did you read about Wynston’s first kayaking adventure? Be sure to take a look at all of our great photos.