Sunday, April 29, 2007

Arizona Sights & Wonders: Canyon Lake Day-trip

As a near-native - I've lived here since I was 5 years old - I've taken for granted many of the sights and wonders that Arizona has to offer.  I can't count the number of times I've been to the Grand Canyon, and have also visited many, many other fantastic places in the state.  A very good friend of mine whose family moved here from Seattle has lived here for about 6 years, and has not had the time or knowledge to venture out to experience Arizona.  So, this series of blogs will be for her... and the many other non-native Phoenicians out there who would like a "place to start" from the point of view of someone who has been there.

Some of these trips are ones that a mom could tackle on a day during summer vacation.  Others are ones that will require more planning... maybe even an overnight stay.  So, as I write these posts, I'll be sure to label the trip a day-trip or a weekend trip.  Of course, some of the weekend trips you might want to take more time to enjoy.

Last week, I visited Canyon Lake with my church as part of a get-together.  It has been many years since I was first there!  Even though the weather was chilly, many children swam and splashed around at the lake's edge while the adults played horseshoes, volleyball, and some tried fishing or hiking.  I was amazed at the beauty of the lake.  It's called Canyon Lake for good reason: a canyon literally shoots up as a magnificent back-drop to the main part of the lake that is visible to those who choose to stay ashore.  But, for those who decide to venture further back, the canyon walls surround you, and the view is truly one to be experienced first-hand.

There are many things to do at Canyon Lake, and it might be wise to plan your trip according to the activities you plan to experience.  For example, if you want to fish, you better research when and where the lake is stocked so that you don't go home empty-handed.  If you plan to rent a boat (several types are available to choose from) you might want to reserve one ahead of time so you guarantee that one will be there for you.  There is also the famous Dolly Steamboat which hosts hundreds... maybe thousands... of passengers each month on dinner cruises (which often sell out) and the like.  You will want to research everything that the lake area has to offer before you go, because it's definitely a day-trip for those who live in the west or northwest valley.  By a day-trip, I mean it will take approximately 1 1/2 hours to get there (depending on traffic and freeway closures) :), and depending on the activities you want to experience, you'll want enough time to take advantage of those!

To get there: head East on I10 and exit to the 60.  Take the 60 to the Idaho Rd. exit.  Turn north on Idaho Rd. and follow it to Highway 88 (commonly referred to as the Apache Trail).  Head northwest on the Apache Trail until you see Canyon Lake.  Drive very carefully as the road winds through the mountains with some perilous drops.  You will eventually come to a one-lane bridge... I imagine this is a bottle-neck when very many people plan a day at the lake... and you're there!  You'll need to get a parking pass which costs approximately $6.  Enjoy your day!

Click here to research activities at Canyon Lake.