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15 Stunning Recreational Lakes near Greer, AZ

Greer has access to the best lakes in Arizona's White Mountains. Although they're not as versatile as many would wish, there are plenty of them, and they are absolutely stunning.
ItIsWild.com - 15 Stunning Recreational Lakes near Greer Arizona

Located at 8,300 feet, Greer is one of the highest towns in America. It’s surrounded by stunning White Mountains lakes that attract thousands of visitors every year.

The lakes here are unique. For example, Christmas Tree Lake is a blue ribbon Apache trout fishery. And Becker Lake is part of a wildlife area with hundreds of wildlife species.

Broadly, the lakes can be divided into two categories. The reservation lakes and the national forest lakes. Each type is stunning and offers fantastic recreation. Yet, be mindful of the paperwork – different permits are required for the two.

The best way to explore these hidden gems is to rent an RV and embark on a lake expedition. You can choose one or see them all.

Also, check out the lakes around Show Low; they are just as good and offer more options with rentals. 

Lakes near Greer:

  1. Greer Lakes
  2. Sunrise Lake
  3. Lee Valley Lake
  4. Crescent Lake
  5. Big Lake
  6. Reservation Lake
  7. Luna Lake
  8. Lyman Lake
  9. Hawley Lake
  10. Christmas Tree Lake
  11. A One Lake
  12. Horseshoe Cienega Lake
  13. Big Bear and Little Bear Lakes
  14. Becker Lake
  15. Nelson Reservoir

1. Greer Lakes

Greer Lakes White Mountains Arizona
Source: flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Official Page: Greer Lakes
  • Distance from Greer: 3 miles (5 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, SUPs, Swimming, Hiking, Camping, RVs, Picnics, Birding

Greer Lakes is a trio of small reservoirs on the edge of the town. Although close to the civilization, they provide a remote experience with excellent camping, hiking, and paddling.

The three lakes are Bunch Reservoir, Tunnel Reservoir, and River Reservoir – the biggest one. Each one has a boat ramp, parking, and picnic shelters. 

The lakes are known for trout fishing, and the AZGFD stocks all three of them with rainbow trout in spring and summer. 

However, fishing experiences here differ. Some anglers report great success with dozens of catches, while others spend days without a single bite. Ensure that the lakes have been stocked before testing your luck (stocking schedule).

Swimming isn’t prohibited at national forest lakes. However, it’s rare to see anyone swimming at Greer’s reservoirs. The water is crisp here, to say the least, and there is a lot of underwater growth.

Instead, these lakes are fantastic kayaking and canoeing destinations, large enough to explore yet cozy and unintimidating. Plus, you can hire kayaks and canoes in town.

Boating is restricted to electric motors. Still, you can put in a jon boat with a trolling motor and go on a fishing expedition. But the water levels tend to fluctuate, making boat ramps unusable during dry years.

When it comes to camping, there are no designated spots near the water. Instead, a couple of large campgrounds nearby offer restrooms and drinking water but no hookups. It’s primitive but absolutely gorgeous here.

Overall, Greer Lakes are fantastic options to be remote and undisturbed yet remain close to the civilization with its diners, lodging, and rentals.

Related: 7 Amazing Recreational Lakes near Show Low, AZ

2. Sunrise Lake

Sunrise Lake White Mountains Arizona
Source: wikimedia/CC BY-SA 4.0
  • Official Page: none
  • Distance from Greer: 17 miles (25 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Hiking, Camping, RVs, Picnics, Birding, MTBs

Sunrise Lake is a small reservoir just outside the national forest boundary, 25 minutes from Greer. It’s an open and windy place with very few trees for cover, but the fishing and paddling opportunities might be worth it.

Sunrise Lake Lodge provides access to the lake and has a boat ramp and a restaurant. Apart from that, it’s a remote location, and you can even spot elk if you stay quiet for long enough.

Sunrise Lake is known for trout fishing. You can expect rainbow, brown, Gila, and Skamania types here, and the sizes tend to be above average, too. But catching one isn’t easy.

When the water level is high, it’s a nice spot to go paddling, too. Although the shoreline is uniform, the overall scenery is majestic.

Another cool thing about this destination is the Sunrise Park Resort across the road. In summer, it’s an activity hub with downhill mountain biking, zip lines, and horseback riding. Come May, they also open a campground suitable for tents and RVs.

The main drawback at Sunrise Lake is the same as at most reservoirs in the area – the water levels. Depending on the conditions and time of year, it may be full or reduced to a creek. 

Still, it’s a charming spot worth exploring, especially considering all the activities in the area.

Related: 12 Superb Recreational Lakes near Payson, AZ

3. Lee Valley Lake

Lee Valley Lake White Mountains Arizona
Source: depositphotos
  • Official Page: Lee Valley Lake
  • Distance from Greer: 11 miles (25 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Hiking, Picnics

Lee Valley Lake is a charming reservoir south of Greer. It’s a tranquil spot that doesn’t enjoy too many visitors, making it excellent for relaxing and unwinding in nature.

The reservoir is pretty easy to access from Route 273. It has a parking lot, a boat ramp, and restrooms, but that’s it for amenities. 

Fishing here isn’t great, though. Most people who try return home empty-handed. But if you’re not fishing for the result, you’ll fall in love with this lake. 

With that said, this little reservoir has a state record to its name. Arctic Grayling, a rare but gorgeous fish, was caught here in 1995 and came at 1 lb 9 oz.

Also, the reservoir isn’t far from Baldy Mountain, the 5th tallest mountain in Arizona and the 1st tallest in the White Mountains. Several trailheads are nearby, and the lake can be a nice stopover to soak those tired feet.

When it comes to camping, there are no designated sites by the lake, but Winn Campground nearby is a popular and highly-rated option. 

In short, Lee Valley Lake is amazing for getting out in nature and relaxing, but activities here are limited.

Related: 11 Fantastic Recreational Lakes near Tucson, AZ

4. Crescent Lake

Crescent Lake White Mountains Arizona
Source: pixabay
  • Official Page: Crescent Lake
  • Distance from Greer: 16 miles (40 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Hiking, Picnics

Crescent Lake is another fantastic option, easily accessible from 273 in summer. It’s known as a quieter alternative to the busy Big Lake nearby and offers pretty good fishing.

Crescent Lake is more developed than Lee Valley Lake (above). It has two access areas with restrooms, parking, and boat ramps. The northern access point also has a store that offers rentals during the summer season.

Fishing is one of the main activities here. Both areas have fishing piers and some bank access. However, fishing from the boat usually produces better results.

Like most lakes in the area, this is a trout lake. Depending on conditions, ASGFD stocks it with rainbow trout, so keep an eye on the schedule.

However, if you’re planning on lakeside camping, this isn’t the spot. Camping is prohibited at Crescent Lake; your best option is Big Lake just down the road.

Related: 7 Amazing Recreational Lakes near Show Low, AZ

5. Big Lake

Big Lake White Mountains Arizona
Source: flickr/CC BY 2.0
  • Official Page: Big Lake
  • Distance from Greer: 18 miles (40 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Hiking, Picnics, Camping, RVs, Biking

Big Lake┬áis a 575-acre reservoir south of Greer. It’s a hugely popular and well-developed spot with incredible fishing and camping. If you’re renting an RV for a lake trip, this should be your first stop.

When it comes to facilities, Big Lake has plenty. There are five campgrounds with over 200 sites combined and a family-operated store where you can rent kayaks, fishing boats, and even a pontoon boat.

Also, the reservoir is considered to be the best fishing lake in the White Mountains. It’s a trout territory with rainbow, cutthroat, brook, and brown varieties, as well as an occasional apache trout. 

Because of the reservoir’s size, it doesn’t dry up as much as smaller lakes, allowing trout to grow. Hence, the fish sizes here are well above average. Also, the store offers fishing lessons, so you can learn from the locals to achieve better results.

Paddling is a lot of fun at Big Lake, too. There’s plenty of space to escape crowds and explore the shoreline. And although it’s pretty large, gas motors are limited to 10hp, so no jet skis here.

And when it comes to land activities, there are plenty of hiking and biking trails around. For example, Big Lake is the terminus point of the 21-mile Apache Railroad Trail that starts on Route 260.

Overall, it’s a terrific location with lots to do. It will suit pretty much everyone, from families to seasoned anglers who came for big fish.

Related: 12 Superb Recreational Lakes near Payson, AZ

6. Reservation Lake

Reservation Lake White Mountains Arizona
Source: unsplash
  • Official Page: Reservation Lake
  • Distance from Greer: 25 miles (1h)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Hiking, Picnics, Camping, RVs, Biking

Reservation Lake is all about peace, solitude, and fishing. It’s located on the Fort Apache Reservation, which requires extra permits for fishing, boating, and overnight stays. But it’s well worth it.

This location is harder to access than most lakes around Greer. It requires a 10-mile dirt-road ride, but most cars should be able to handle it. This keeps crowds away, leaving more fish in the water.

With that said, Reservation Lake is a terrific fishing spot with lots of trout, mainly rainbow, brown, and brook. In fact, it holds a state record for brown trout that came at 22 lbs 14 oz.

Also, it’s a fantastic kayaking and canoeing spot. The loop around the lake is about 5-mile long and makes for an exciting adventure. 

There is plenty of wildlife around, too. You can spot elk, wild horses, and various birds and reptiles. Nature enthusiasts and photographers would love this location.

Overall, it’s a tranquil spot best suited for seasoned adventurers. Bring everything you need with you, and don’t rely on cell service; it really is a wild place.

Related: 11 Fantastic Recreational Lakes near Tucson, AZ

7. Luna Lake

Luna Lake White Mountains Arizona
Source: depositphotos
  • Official Page: Luna Lake
  • Distance from Greer: 46 miles (50 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Hiking, Picnics, Camping, RVs, Biking

Luna Lake is a small reservoir near Alpine, about 50 minutes from Greer. It’s as developed and popular as Big Lake offering plenty of facilities and things to do.

The lake is easy to access; it sits right next to Route 180. This is great for pitstops but not ideal for peace and tranquility, which is the reservoir’s biggest drawback.

Still, the lake’s campground is neatly tacked away on the opposite side, far from the traffic noise and pollution. There are over 50 sites with basic amenities.

The superb thing about this destination is that you can rent boats, paddleboards, and kayaks at the local bait store. This is a welcome change considering most lakes in the White Mountains don’t provide that.

Also, the reservoir has plenty of trails, including a designated mountain biking route. And the area is famous for colorful wildflower displays and rich wildlife, too.

Another remarkable fact about Luna Lake is that it still holds the 1976 state record for cutthroat trout, which came at 6 lb 5 oz. Nowadays, fishing here isn’t as good, but skillful anglers rarely return empty-handed.

Overall, Luna Lake is a lovely family-friendly spot with excellent facilities and plenty to do. But if you’re looking for a remote experience, there are better lakes around.

Related: 7 Amazing Recreational Lakes near Show Low, AZ

8. Lyman Lake

Lyman Lake White Mountains Arizona
Source: depositphotos
  • Official Page: Lyman Lake
  • Distance from Greer: 36 miles (45 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Swimming, Hiking, Camping, RVs, Water Skiing, Wakeboarding, Tubing

Lyman Lake is located 45 minutes north of Greer. At 1,500 acres, it’s a vast reservoir that’s very different from other options on the list. 

The lake is managed by a state park that offers modern camping facilities, boat ramps, and miles of trails for hiking and biking. Like most state parks, it’s an excellent destination for all visitors, including families with kids.

The cool thing about the area is that it’s filled with petroglyphs and ancient ruins. You can explore by foot and find plenty of rock engraving or take a boat across the lake to access the most remote ones.

Another excellent thing about this destination is that swimming is allowed at Lyman Lake. The park offers a designated swimming area, so you’ll be safe from boats and anglers.

However, the biggest drawback here is fishing, which isn’t very good. It’s a warm water lake with species like largemouth bass, walleye, and various cats. But catching one is tricky. You will need luck and local knowledge to succeed at this reservoir.

Still, Lyman Lake has a surprise under the sleeve, and it’s boating. This is the only lake on the list where you can wakeboard, jet ski, and tube, making it the only option for boating fans in the area.

Overall, it’s an amazing spot with plenty of things to do. If you’re looking for a stunning and versatile destination, this is it.

Related: 12 Superb Recreational Lakes near Payson, AZ

9. Hawley Lake

Hawley Lake White Mountains Arizona
Source: flickr/CC BY 2.0
  • Official Page: Hawley Lake
  • Distance from Greer: 30 miles (45 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Hiking, Camping, RVs

Hawley Lake is a 260-acre reservoir on the Fort Apache Reservation. It’s the most developed of all the reservation lakes and one of the most gorgeous, too.

The reservoir is geared towards lakeside recreation and offers campgrounds, a boat launch, a fishing pier, and cabins to rent. 

In summer, there is also a store with essential supplies and licenses that you need for fishing, boating, and camping on the reservation. But it’s best not to rely on it and get everything you need in advance. You can get information on licenses here.

Although swimming is prohibited at Hawley Lake, it attracts many visitors who come here to fish, kayak, camp, and just unwind in nature. There is plenty of wildlife around (and cows). You might see elk, horses, turkeys, ground squirrels, and various birds.

Fishing is pretty good at Hawley Lake. It’s a trout territory with rainbow, brown, brook, Gila, and Skamania varieties. Plus, there is an occasional catfish, too. 

Anglers report great results fishing from a boat, yet bank fishing is hit and miss. Also, the access road remains open throughout the winter, so the reservoir is a popular ice fishing spot.

One thing to note is that if you plan to bring your own boat, you must have an electric motor. Gas motors are prohibited at Hawley Lake.

In short, this is an excellent destination. It’s as charming as Reservation Lake (#6), yet it’s easier to get to and offers more amenities. But for peace and solitude, Reservation Lake is still a better option.

Related: 11 Fantastic Recreational Lakes near Tucson, AZ

10. Christmas Tree Lake

Christmas Tree Lake White Mountains Arizona
Source: pixabay
  • Official Page: Christmas Tree Lake
  • Distance from Greer: 43 miles (1h 25min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing

Christmas Tree Lake is a special place. Located high in the White Mountains, this 41-acre lake offers a unique fishing experience that you won’t find anywhere else.

This spot is all about Apache Trout – the state fish of Arizona. It’s a rare specie, native only to this state. And although Hurricane Lake has the state record, Christmas Tree Lake is considered the go-to place for this fish.

The reservoir is located deep in the Fort Apache Reservation and requires a high clearance vehicle to access. Some people make it in regular cars, but the conditions have to be right. Expect battered logging roads.

Also, fishing at this lake requires a special permit; the regular fishing Apache permit isn’t enough; see the official page. The lake itself doesn’t have any amenities; it’s a remote destination, so come prepared.

Apart from fishing, this is an excellent place to paddle, especially if you enjoy the ‘in the middle of nowhere’ vibe. But this is it for activities.

Overall, this is an angler’s haven and a bucket list spot. It’s best suited for seasoned adventurers, as most people will find it too remote.

Related: 7 Amazing Recreational Lakes near Show Low, AZ

11. A One Lake

A One Lake White Mountains Arizona
Source: pixabay
  • Official Page: A One Lake
  • Distance from Greer: 15 miles (20 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Hiking, Camping, RVs

A One Lake is a small 24-acre reservoir just off Route 260. It’s one of the most accessible lakes and can be the perfect stopover when traveling between Show Low and Springerville. 

In addition to picnics and pitstops, the lake offers a small campground, so overnight stays are possible, too. However, note that this is a Fort Apache Reservation territory; hence, a camping permit is required. 

When it comes to activities, the reservoir is similar to others in the White Mountains. You can paddle about, hike around, and fish. 

Fishing is ok here, but nothing impressive. It’s too small to produce large fish, but shore access is easy. Also, because of the proximity to the highway, it’s a popular ice fishing spot in winter. 

In short, A One Lake is a nice little option, especially for short stays.

Related: 12 Superb Recreational Lakes near Payson, AZ

12. Horseshoe Cienega Lake

Horseshoe Cienega Lake White Mountains Arizona
Source: unsplash
  • Official Page: Horseshoe Cienega Lake
  • Distance from Greer: 22 miles (30 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Hiking, Camping, RVs

Horseshoe Cienega Lake is 120 acres in size and located off Route 260. It’s one of the more popular lakes in the White Mountains that can get pretty busy in summer.

The reservoir is known for excellent fishing and offers a variety of trout. Rainbow, brown, and brook are the most common types here, and the sizes are decent, too. In the past, it even held a state record for brown trout. 

Unlike most lakes in the area, Horseshoe Cienega Lake has a store and a fishing pier, but you’ll get the best results fishing from a boat.

Also, the reservoir is the perfect size for kayaking and canoeing. It’s neither small nor huge, and the pine-covered shoreline is rather stunning.

However, don’t be fooled by the lake’s proximity to the highway. The access road is dirt and gravel and can be challenging for large RVs.

Overall, it’s a well-balanced destination. It’s away from the civilizations, yet not totally remote; developed, but not too much. 

Related: 11 Fantastic Recreational Lakes near Tucson, AZ

13. Big Bear and Little Bear Lakes

Little Bear Lake White Mountains Arizona
Source: depositphotos
  • Official Page: Big Bear and Little Bear Lakes
  • Distance from Greer: 22 miles (30 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Hiking, Camping, RVs

Big Bear and Little Bear Lakes are a pair of reservoirs just north of Route 260, between McNary and Greer. They are also known by their Apache names – Shush Bezahze and Shush Be Tou, respectively.

These are stunning lakes just a couple of miles from each other. Both offer campgrounds among the pines and a selection of sites right by the water.

The best activities here are paddling and fishing. Little Bear Lake is more popular with anglers who report pretty good rainbow trout catches, although the fish size is modest. 

And the Big Bear Lake is a highly-rated camping spot with excellent kayaking and shore access. There isn’t much between the two.

Because they are so close to each other, you can try them both and see which one feels better.

Overall, this is an excellent two-in-one option and another location that makes the White Mountains such a unique place. Remember to purchase reservation passes, though.

Related: 7 Amazing Recreational Lakes near Show Low, AZ

14. Becker Lake

Becker Lake White Mountains Arizona
Source: flickr
  • Official Page: Becker Lake
  • Distance from Greer: 22 miles (30 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Hiking, Birding

Becker Lake is a 107-acre reservoir near Springerville. It doesn’t have any pines or campgrounds like others on the list, but it’s still a stunning lake with incredible fishing.

The reservoir is part of the wildlife area that offers a few hiking trails teeming with wildlife. The place is well-known for raptors like the bald eagle and peregrine falcon. It’s a fantastic spot for wildlife buffs and photographers. 

Yet, the main reason to visit Becker Lake is fishing. This is a designated blue ribbon fishery with trophy rainbow trout. It even holds a catch-and-release record for a 20-inch tiger trout caught in 2019. 

You can fish from a bank or a pier, but as usual, the best results are from a boat. The lake is restricted to electric or 10hp gas motors. Most anglers have excellent results here, and if you want to catch a 20” trout, this is the best spot on the list.

When it comes to kayaking and canoeing, it can be fun if you’re into wildlife watching. Otherwise, it’s a pretty uniform lake without any significant features, although the mountains on the backdrop are spectacular.

Overall, it’s an option best-suited for anglers and wildlife enthusiasts. It’s worth checking out, especially if you’re passing on Route 191.

Related: 12 Superb Recreational Lakes near Payson, AZ

15. Nelson Reservoir

Nelson Reservoir White Mountains Arizona
Source: pixabay
  • Official Page: Nelson Reservoir
  • Distance from Greer: 25 miles (30 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Hiking

Nelson Reservoir is about 90 acres in size. It stretches along Route 191 between Springerville and Alpine, making it an excellent stopover on long journeys.

The lake is known for superb fishing as it’s stocked with rainbow trout throughout summer. Most anglers report excellent results here.

Shore access isn’t great, though. The banks are steep and have plenty of brush and snakes. Instead, there are four fishing piers and two boat ramps, so you do get options.

Apart from fishing, you can go paddling and boating (electric motors only). Because of the steep banks, it’s a pretty cool reservoir to explore.

Still, the biggest drawback at Nelson Lake is traffic noise. Although you get used to that quickly, it’s not as tranquil as many other options on the list.

Another downside is the lack of camping. Nelson Lake is a day-use area where camping is prohibited.

Overall, it’s a nice spot, quite different from most lakes in the White Mountains. If fishing is your priority, you’d love it here.

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