Arizona Vacation

Roosevelt Lake Arizona

By AZ Leisure Staff Writers

Photo of Bridge Over Roosevelt Lake ArizonaBridge Over Roosevelt Lake. © Alan Stark

The Salt River once flowed freely from the higher elevations around Phoenix as it ultimately made its way to the Valley of the Sun Greater Phoenix area. Roosevelt Lake was created in 1911 with the completion of the Roosevelt Dam on the Salt River. At the time, Roosevelt Dam was the world's tallest masonry dam at about 280 feet high and Roosevelt Lake was the largest man made lake in the world. In 1996, modification of the dam increased its height to 357 feet and expanded the lake's water storage capacity by 20%. The lake had a multi-purpose of flood control, generation of electricity and harnessing the water for irrigation. The dam, lake and its water distribution system turned the Arizona desert into fertile agricultural land.

Roosevelt Lake

Size of Roosevelt Lake

Once the world's largest man made lake, today Roosevelt is the third largest in Arizona behind the monster lakes of Lake Powell and Lake Mead. When full, Roosevelt Lake has a water surface of over 21,000 acres, a length of 22 miles and 128 miles of shoreline. Its maximum depth is over 300 feet. Sitting at the northern end of the scenic Apache Trail, Roosevelt Lake is the first and largest of a series of lakes created on the Salt River as it meanders to the Phoenix area over a course of about 40 miles. Those lakes are Apache Lake, Canyon Lake and Saguaro Lake as they gradually get closer to the Phoenix AZ area.

Water Recreation and Adventure

Roosevelt Lake is a favorite of avid anglers searching for the trophy largemouth bass along with smallmouth bass, channel catfish and crappie. The lake is large enough that high power bass boats can zoom for many miles to other portions of lake. Depending upon lake capacity that varies with the release of water through the dam, there are miles and miles of beach area for camping along the lake's edges. Water-skiing, jet-skiing, swimming, general boating recreation and excellent fishing make Lake Roosevelt a favorite water recreation destination. The lake features several marinas and fee-based camping sites, and contains a wildlife refuge area. The lake has a general store.

Getting To Roosevelt Lake

There are three routes to the lake depending upon point of origination and the type of scenery you would prefer to enjoy. See the Roosevelt Lake Map below.

Apache Trail Route. This is one of the most scenic drives in Arizona, particularly during the spring months when the desert is in bloom. From Apache Junction it's about a 50 mile drive, but a slow drive since about half of the route is winding dirt road along the northern edges of the Superstition Mountain Wilderness area. Take Highway 88 (Apache Trail) from Apache Junction which is a Phoenix suburb. You will pass Canyon Lake before entering the Ghost Town of Tortilla Flats. Shortly after the road through hairpin turns alongside sheer cliff dropoffs at Fish Creek Hill as the views of Apache Lake appear. Apache Trail then continues until it reaches Roosevelt Dam and Roosevelt Lake. Note: Due to bridge and road damage, this road is closed until further notice.

From Globe Arizona. Take Highway 188 for about 30 miles north of Globe.

From North Phoenix, Mesa and Scottsdale. Take Beeline Highway (Highway 87) north to Highway 188. Take 188 south for about 40 miles passing through Jake's Corner and Punkin Center to Lake Roosevelt. The route is all paved.

For More Information

Tonto National Forest
Tonto Basin Ranger District
(928) 467-3200
(928) 467-2245 (Marina)
(602) 236-5929 (Lake Level Information)

Roosevelt Lake Guidelines

Map To Roosevelt Lake

Roosevelt Lake Route & Area Map

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