11 Best Beaches and Swimming Holes near Phoenix, AZ

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Phoenix may be renowned for its sun-soaked desert landscapes and fiery sunsets, but its myriad of hidden water havens proves there’s more to Arizona’s capital than meets the eye. 

For those looking to swap the city’s scorching temperatures for the refreshing embrace of sparkling waters, you’re in luck. 

Phoenix’s vicinity is dotted with oases perfect for every kind of water enthusiast. 

Whether you’re a seasoned kayaker, an ardent angler, or simply yearning for a picnic by the waterside, we’ve got the lowdown on the top beaches and swimming holes just a stone’s throw from the city. 

Dive in and discover your next favorite summer escape!

1. Granite Reef Recreational Area

Photo of Red Mountain along side of the Salt River. Photo taken in Tonto National Forest
Source: dreamstime
  • Distance from Phoenix: 30 miles
  • Activities: swimming, fishing, picnics, kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, hiking
  • Facilities: restrooms, parking, picnic tables, trails, small-boat launches

A 30-mile drive from Phoenix, the Granite Reef Recreational Area stands out as the city’s closest spot for those eager to embrace waterside activities. 

Overlooking the tranquil stretches of the Lower Salt River, this area presents locals and visitors alike with picturesque views of rippling waters against a Red Mountain backdrop. 

It’s not just a sight to behold, the site is a hub for paddling, whether you’re launching a kayak or balancing on a paddleboard. 

Anglers also frequent these parts, casting their lines in hopes of a catch. 

Though not officially designated, many find solace in the cool, calm waters, especially during scorching summer days. 

The area boasts clean restrooms, picnic zones in shaded nooks, and two convenient access points for swimming or launching watercraft. 

Weekend warriors, be warned – its popularity can make parking a quest. 

2. Phon D Sutton Recreation Area

Southern portion of the Salt river outside of Mesa Arizona
Source: dreamstime
  • Distance from Phoenix: 33 miles
  • Activities: swimming, fishing, picnics, kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, hiking
  • Facilities: restrooms, parking, picnic tables, trails, dog-friendly, wild horses

Located at the confluence of the Salt and Verde Rivers, Phon D Sutton Recreation Area is a local mecca for water enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. 

Just 33 miles away from the city’s hustle, this site is celebrated for its multiple refreshing swimming holes, perfectly complemented by the scenic embrace of Red Mountain. 

For those seeking convenience, the expansive parking facility not only accommodates many but also introduces the ease of credit card payments for daily passes – a testament to its user-friendly approach. 

While swimming remains the star attraction, the location is enriched by activities like tubing, paddleboarding, and even a chance to spot Arizona’s famed wild horses. 

Amenities such as ramadas, grills, and restrooms elevate the experience, making this recreation area a top choice.

3. Pebble Beach

Crowds of people stay cool on a hot summer day in Arizona by kayaking down the Salt River while viewing wild horses in the water
Source: dreamstime
  • Distance from Phoenix: 37 miles
  • Activities: swimming, sunbathing, fishing, picnics, kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, hiking
  • Facilities: restrooms, parking, picnic tables, trails, wild horses

A 37-mile drive from Phoenix, Pebble Beach has carved its niche as the city’s closest designated beach for swimming.

It attracts visitors with its immaculate sandy stretch — an idyllic spot for sunbathers and families alike. 

Drenched in natural beauty, this popular inner tube launching point also doubles as a haven for non-motorized boating aficionados, from paddleboarders to kayakers. 

The beach’s serene shallows and crystalline waters make it a hotspot for swimmers, with numerous shallow and deep areas. 

And as the sun climbs, the shade of ramadas becomes a respite for picnickers. 

Amenities, including a well-maintained restroom and an abundance of parking spaces, enhance the visitor experience. 

For a perfect day out, remember to secure the Tonto Pass, available at a nearby kiosk or local gas stations.

4. Butcher Jones Beach

Panoramic picture overlooking Lake Saguaro in Arizona. Picture taken from Butcher Jones trail.
Source: dreamstime
  • Distance from Phoenix: 44 miles
  • Activities: swimming, sunbathing, fishing, picnics, kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, hiking
  • Facilities: restrooms, parking, picnic tables, trails, wild horses

Tucked away in a picturesque cove on Saguaro Lake, Butcher Jones Beach emerges as an unmissable attraction for those in search of the perfect waterside escape. 

While it may not hold the title of the closest beach to Phoenix, its unparalleled popularity and commendable features make it arguably the best. 

Its sandy shores beckon families, swimmers, and sun-lovers alike. 

The beach smoothly transitions from shallow areas, ideal for children, to deeper waters fit for swimming. 

Amenities like restrooms and shaded picnic spots, albeit with a natural ant presence, add to the convenience. 

Adventure seekers can indulge in kayaking, hiking, and paddleboarding, while the more relaxed visitors can enjoy the potential wild horse sightings. 

As Phoenix’s prized lakeside jewel, Butcher Jones offers more than just a day at the beach; it promises a fun experience.

Arrive early to secure a parking space!

5. Lake Pleasant

Lake Pleasant shoreline with mountain backdrop - Arizona
Source: unsplash
  • Distance from Phoenix: 40 miles
  • Activities: swimming, sunbathing, fishing, picnics, kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, hiking, scuba diving, boating, wakeboarding, water skiing, camping
  • Facilities: restrooms, parking, picnic tables, trails, marinas, boat launches, boat cruises, concessions, rentals, inflatable water park

Located 40 miles from Phoenix, Lake Pleasant Regional Park offers a refreshing respite. 

While the vast lake is surrounded by a rocky shoreline, its crystal-clear waters invite swimmers and divers to delve into its depths. 

Recognized for its unparalleled inland scuba diving opportunities, the lake’s submerged rock walls, canyons, and remnants of the old Waddell Dam captivate divers. 

Those looking for convenience will rejoice in the unique feature of parking right on the shore, minimizing the trek with picnic baskets and swim gear. 

Whether you’re lounging by its waters or diving deep to explore underwater mysteries, Lake Pleasant guarantees a fulfilling experience. 

With diverse activities and well-appointed amenities, including the inflatable water park, it’s the desert’s best-kept secret for water enthusiasts.

6. SB Cove

Bartlett Lake outside Phoenix, Arizona - Aerial View
Source: dreamstime
  • Distance from Phoenix: 58 miles
  • Activities: swimming, sunbathing, fishing, picnics, kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, hiking, boating, camping
  • Facilities: restrooms, parking, picnic tables, trails, boat launch, campgrounds

Nestled in the heart of Tonto National Forest, the SB Cove Shoreline at Bartlett Reservoir beckons water enthusiasts with its pristine waters and sandy shores. 

Unlike its counterpart, Lake Pleasant, this gem offers a quieter ambiance and a less rocky shoreline, making it a preferred choice for beachgoers. 

Its soaring popularity as a camping spot is hard to miss, with its scenic vistas of moss-covered boulders and surrounding mountains painting a picturesque backdrop. 

Depending on reservoir water levels, visitors have the unique privilege of driving right up to the water’s edge, merging convenience with nature’s beauty. 

Enhanced by nearby amenities, including restrooms and hiking trails, this spot promises a refreshing escape for those who like to avoid crowds.

7. Rattlesnake Cove

Rattlesnake Cove at Bartlett Lake near Phoenix Arizona
Source: wikimedia/CC BY-SA 4.0
  • Distance from Phoenix: 57 miles
  • Activities: swimming, sunbathing, fishing, picnics, kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, hiking, boating
  • Facilities: restrooms, parking, picnic tables, trails, boat launch

Another option on the scenic Bartlett Lake, Rattlesnake Cove offers a more intimate beachfront experience compared to its larger counterpart, SB Cove. 

It boasts a gently sloping shoreline, ideal for children and those seeking a mellow entry into the refreshing waters. 

Visitors relish the convenient amenities, from clean restrooms to public grills, making day outings hassle-free. 

Although the beach area may be smaller, its proximity to the marina and nearby campgrounds at South Cove makes it a versatile spot.

Families can be spotted setting up canopies, enjoying barbecues under the verandas, or venturing out on paddleboards. 

With a wealth of activities and a backdrop of breathtaking desert mountain views, Rattlesnake Cove stands out as a prime family retreat on Bartlett Lake.

8. Acacia Recreation Site

Scenic Canyon Lake in Arizona With Kayakers
Source: dreamstime
  • Distance from Phoenix: 50 miles
  • Activities: swimming, sunbathing, fishing, picnics, kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, hiking
  • Facilities: restrooms, parking, picnic tables, trails

Perched along the revered Apache Trail Scenic Byway, some 50 miles from Phoenix, lies Acacia Beach, one of Canyon Lake’s most sought-after attractions. 

Frequented by both locals and tourists, this expansive sandy stretch boasts ample space even during its busiest times. 

Stalwart trees offer generous shade, providing respite from the summer’s heat.

Despite its vast parking, early arrival is recommended on weekends as spots are snapped up swiftly. 

Besides taking a dip in the lake’s refreshing waters, visitors can indulge in an array of activities – from kayaking to picnicking under large pavilions equipped with grills. 

With close proximity to Palo Verde Boating Site and various amenities, Acacia Beach remains the go-to destination for a memorable lakeside day out. 

It’s one of the most popular beachfronts near Phoenix!

9. Chunk Beach

Tonto National Forest, Salt River Recreation Area, Arizona United States
Source: dreamstime
  • Distance from Phoenix: 77 miles
  • Activities: swimming, sunbathing, fishing, picnics, kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, camping
  • Facilities: none

For those seeking solitude and an unspoiled ambiance, Chunk Beach on the Salt River is the answer. 

Nestled just below the Theodor Roosevelt Dam, on the Apache Trail, this pristine sandy stretch offers an idyllic setting, untouched by the bustling crowd. 

Perfect for swimming, kayaking, and paddleboarding, its tranquil surroundings make it a unique camping choice for adventurers. 

As the perfect pitstop before reaching Roosevelt Lake, Chunk Beach promises a refreshing break from the journey.

10. Roosevelt Lake

Aerial View of Roosevelt Lake and a boat ramp in Arizona
Source: unsplash
  • Distance from Phoenix: 99 miles
  • Activities: swimming, sunbathing, fishing, picnics, kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, camping, hiking, boating, water skiing, wakeboarding
  • Facilities: restrooms, parking, picnic tables, trails, marina, boat ramps, campgrounds

Nestled in the heart of the Sonoran Desert, Roosevelt Lake stretches expansively as a majestic watery haven. 

The lake’s unique charm is accentuated when its water levels recede, revealing miles of sandy shorelines – an open invitation for beach camping aficionados. 

Driving right up to the water’s edge, visitors can set up camp, making it a preferred spot for those seeking both aquatic adventures and shoreside camping experiences. 

As day turns to night, Roosevelt transforms into a stargazer’s paradise, with the vast desert skies showcasing celestial wonders. 

While the lake offers numerous activities, amenities might be sparse, unless you visit the Roosevelt Lake Marina area. 

From swimming to paddling and boating, this expansive lake is the perfect option for overnight trips.

11. North Shore Beach

Tempe Town Lake in Tempe Phoenix Arizona
Source: depositphotos
  • Distance from Phoenix: 11 miles
  • Activities: sunbathing, fishing, picnics, kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, walking, volleyball
  • Facilities: restrooms, parking, picnic tables, trails, volleyball courts, rentals, concessions

Amidst the bustling energy of downtown Tempe, the North Shore Beach emerges as a sandy escape for Phoenix families seeking a hint of seaside nostalgia. 

Though its name may suggest aquatic adventures, the waters of Tempe Town Lake are strictly off-limits for swimming and wading. 

However, sunbathers and volleyball enthusiasts will find ample space to indulge their passions. 

Nestled conveniently in the city’s heart, the beach offers a panoramic view of urban landmarks, including the iconic railway bridge. 

With free parking under the 202 freeway and a plethora of walking and biking paths, this beachside retreat is more than just a sandy haven. 

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