Where To Sail In Arizona

Where to Sail in Arizona | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

June 15, 2022

Arizona offers excellent inland lake and river sailing all around the state. Over a dozen big lakes in Arizona are open to sailboats.

The best places to sail in Arizona are all lakes, and many of them are artificial. These are Lake Havasu, Lake Powell, Alamo Lake, Tempe Town Lake, Lake Mohave, Saguaro Lake, Roosevelt Lake, and Lake Pleasant. Some of these lakes can accommodate large boats, and all have places to tie up.

In this article, we'll cover eight of the best places to sail in Arizona. We'll go over the specifics of each location, along with the best type of vessel to sail there. Finally, we'll cover what kind of accommodations, atmosphere, and local attractions to expect at each location.

We sourced the information for this article from Arizona-based sailing communities, state guides, and State Park information pages. We also studied the depth, dimensions, and average weather conditions of each location to determine the best types of sailboats to use there.


Table of contents

Is Arizona a Good Place to Sail?

Though Arizona has no ocean access, the state is actually one of the best inland places to sail in the country. The warm weather and relatively calm convective atmosphere over Arizona make it a safe and stable place to sail on lakes and rivers.

Sailing in Arizona is highly affordable as well, and many of the larger Lakes have reasonably priced marinas, along with places to beach and anchor.

What Kind of Sailboat is Best for Arizona?

Arizona has a unique set of characteristics that make it both a great and challenging place to sail. As far as sailboats are concerned, size is the greatest limiting factor. There simply isn't enough space in many Arizona waterways for traditional ocean-going sailboats.

That's not to say you can't use 25 or 30-foot sailboats in Arizona. You can, but your options for sailing will be limited. The ideal size for a sailboat in Arizona is between 15 and 25 feet in length. Shoal draft sailboats, such as sharpies, are very common.

Vessels with centerboards and swing keels can take advantage of the beaches and shallow water, and they can be towed and stored on land when necessary. A modern pocket cruiser setup offers the most benefits, as the cabin offers protection from the hot summer sun.

Best Arizona Lakes for Sailboats

Although Arizona is home to many creeks and rivers, lakes provide the best sailing experience overall. There are numerous lakes in Arizona, but only a few of them are ideal for sailing in most conditions. Here are the best places to sail in Arizona.

1. Lake Havasu

Lake Havasu is one of the most well-known lakes in Arizona. This beautiful Lake, which is located near Phoenix, is one of the busiest and most exciting locations in the region. Each year, hundreds of boats descend on its picturesque beaches and cut across its water.

If you don't mind traffic, sailing on Lake Havasu and finding a beach to stop for the evening can be a very fun time. During the offseason, the lake is quiet and an excellent place to sail a small boat. There are several places to dock on the shores of the lake, along with numerous restaurants, bars, and shops.

Sailing is a popular activity on Lake Havasu. Every year, dozens of small cabin sailboats ‘invade’ the lake for the annual Lake Havasu Pocket Cruiser Convention. Larger boats are also found on Lake Havasu, both under sail and power. Hanging out around Lake Havasu seems like a party 24/7, especially during the summer.

2. Lake Powell

If you're looking for something more remote, it doesn't get much better than Lake Powell. The scenery that surrounds Lake Powell is breathtaking, as the lake is surrounded by beautiful desert rock formations like none other in the world.

Lake Powell is also the largest lake in Arizona and an excellent place to drop a boat in the water. There's very little traffic on Lake Powell (at least when compared to Lake Havasu), which is partially due to its remote location. There's very little construction around the lake, which leaves it in a pristine natural state.

Getting a boat into Lake Powell is a little more challenging than some other locations can be, so the lake has the capacity to handle larger sailboats. The lake is an excellent location for camping. Once you're in the water, it won't take long to find a secluded river or cove to drop anchor in and absorb the surroundings.

3. Alamo Lake

Alamo Lake is a beautiful and remote desert lake situated behind a dam. The area is popular with campers, and numerous RV parks campsites dot the shoreline. Like Lake Powell, Alamo Lake is remote and a bit off the beaten path. As a result, it usually isn't crowded, and it makes for great summer sailing.

Due to the dam and the relatively small size of the lake, you're limited by the size of your sailboat. The area is best suited for smaller open-top sailboats under 16 feet in length. That said, you can still have plenty of fun on Alamo Lake in an open-top boat. Like much of Arizona, you can expect pleasant weather in the evenings in high heat during the day.

Sailboat racing is a popular activity on Alamo Lake, and races are held frequently. It's not uncommon to see a line of Sunfish or Lasers lined up and ready for the regatta. It's best to check the condition of the lake before arriving, as the water level and quality varies throughout the year. Also, don't forget to bring your fishing rod.

4. Tempe Town Lake

Tempe Town Lake is one of the most popular places to sail in Arizona. The lake is limited to small, open top-boats and pocket cruisers, but you're sure to find a sailboat or two on the water during the summer. Tempe Town Lake it's not only convenient, but it's a highly controlled environment that's easy to learn on. It's a great place to go for low-stress cruising.

Tempe Town Lake is one of the few places in Arizona that frequently offers sailing lessons, and it's a highly-respected place to learn to sail. Lessons are available in small and larger open boats, and they're open to kids and adults. The lake is frequented by boaters of all types who live in the Tempe area.

Tempe Town Lake runs alongside apartment buildings, offices, and a highway, so it's definitely not remote. In fact, it resembles a lagoon more than a lake. That said, it's highly convenient for the locals and a great place to spend the summer on the water. Sailboat racing and rowing are also coming to Tempe Town Lake, and events are held regularly.

5. Lake Mohave

Lake Mohave is one of the largest sailing destinations in Arizona, and it boasts unique desert scenery. There's a marina on the lake that can handle medium-sized boats, along with a launch ramp and parking.

Powerboats dominate the marina at Lake Mohave, but a sailboat can occasionally be spotted quietly cruising or on the expansive lake. Lake Mohave, like Alamo Lake, is an artificial Lake created by a dam on the Colorado River, and the lake borders Nevada.

It's only four miles wide at its widest point, but it's over 60 miles long. This leaves plenty of room for sailing and an almost unlimited shoreline. Far up the river, boats can cruise close to the base of Hoover Dam, which is a popular cruising destination for suitable craft.

6. Saguaro Lake

Saguaro Lake, named after the iconic Arizona cactus, is one of the deepest lakes in Arizona. Also created by a dan, this long artificial lake is an excellent place to drop a sailboat in the water. Due to its 100-foot depth, it can accommodate larger boats with deeper drafts and many other lakes in Arizona.

Iconic Saguaro cactuses can actually be seen from the water, and they really empathize the desert atmosphere of the lake. The clear and crystal blue water also enhances the scenery at this picturesque artificial Lake. Lake Saguaro also features a well-maintained marina, which is popular with houseboats and powerboats of all types.

Though sailboats aren't the most common sight at Saguaro Lake, they do appear from time to time when the wind conditions are favorable. Small open-top sailboats in pocket cruisers are the most common sight on Lake Saguaro, and occasionally larger both appear as well.

7. Roosevelt Lake

Roosevelt Lake offers (arguably) some of the best sailing in Arizona. The lake, created in the early 20th century by the iconic Roosevelt Dam, is expansive, empty, and deep. The lake is popular with powerboats and water skiers, but also some very large sailboats of 30 feet or longer.

The lake is a popular destination for people in the Tucson area, and it features full-service marinas and dry boat storage. Along with places to dock, there are also anchorages scattered around the lake. The weather around Roosevelt Lake is usually excellent, and it's a great place to hang out during the warmer seasons.

Sailboats are quite common in Roosevelt Lake, and size usually isn't an issue. You may occasionally run into a ski boat wake, but the traffic is spread out and generally not an issue. The weather around Roosevelt Lake is usually great for sailing, and there's usually sufficient wind around the lake to get underway.

8. Lake Pleasant

Lake Pleasant is a very nice place to sell in Arizona, and it's likely one of the most popular sailing areas in the state. Lake Pleasant is home to the Lake Pleasant Sailing Club, which is a local community that offers training, regattas, and a friendly community of sailors based in the area.

Like Roosevelt Lake, Lake Pleasant can accommodate larger sailboats that are more commonly found in coastal and offshore regions. Winds are quite favorable, but the occasional hillside dead spot can slow you down. Lake Pleasant offers full-size sailboat rentals, including both of us 25 feet in length. The area is large, and the water is deep, and a full-size launch ramp means that you can watch virtually anything in the water.

It's common to see multiple sailboats tacking up and down the lake at any given time. Still, traffic is usually light compared to other destinations. Sailing lessons are also available on Lake Pleasant in multiple types of sailboats. The Lake Pleasant Marina is one of the largest and best-kept in Arizona, and it's home to numerous sailboats, powerboats, and houseboats.

Where To Sail In Arizona
Daniel Wade

Daniel Wade

I've personally had thousands of questions about sailing and sailboats over the years. As I learn and experience sailing, and the community, I share the answers that work and make sense to me, here on Life of Sailing.

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