5 of Arizona’s Best Places To Go Paddleboarding, According to Locals

5 of Arizona’s Best Places To Go Paddleboarding, According to Locals

Photo courtesy of REI

By Teresa K. Traverse

September 7, 2023

Stand-up paddleboarding, or SUP, has really taken off in recent years and for good reason. It’s an easy sport to pick up and lets you glide along water while surrounded by stunning scenery.

If you’ve never paddleboarded before, all you really need to do is stand up on the board, and even that’s not as hard as it may look. The wide nature of the board and the calm waters at most SUP spots make it much easier than, say, surfing.

Once you’re standing, your abs will engage, and you just paddle in the water. As with any activity on a body of water, it’s a good idea to always wear a life vest and wear sunscreen if you’re not in a shady area.

If you’re looking to see what this sport is all about, here are five spots where you can paddleboard in Arizona. Enjoy the water!

Saguaro Lake

Tour departs from Butcher Jones Recreation Site, E. Butcher Jones Road in Fort McDowell

Cost: $112 per person in tour groups of four or more


REI leads a dual kayak and paddleboard tour of Saguaro Lake, about one hour from Phoenix. This tour is intended for all skill levels and abilities. If you decide to paddleboard Saguaro Lake, you can look forward to seeing the Superstition Mountains and Four Peaks mountains in the distance along with some wildlife. You might spot bald eagles, bighorn sheep, reptiles, and amphibians. If you’re lucky, you might even see the wild Salt River horses, too.

Tuzigoot National Monument

25 Tuzigoot Road in Clarkdale

Cost: $85 per person. Fee includes guides, paddleboard rentals, helmets, life vests, equipment, snacks, drinks, and transportation from a Sedona hotel.

Northern Arizona-based CenterFocus offers a tour that gives participants the chance to paddle the Verde River around the Tuzigoot National Monument in Camp Verde. Tuzigoot is a Pueblo ruin that was once inhabited by the Sinagua people in the 1300s. Guests will paddle down the calm waters of the Verde River for 1.5 miles. As an added bonus, this area is well known as a birding destination. The company offers a morning tour, during which you’ll have the best chance of seeing the birds in action. CenterFocus also gives tours at noon and in the evenings. Sunset tours are available seasonally. This tour is intended for all skill levels.

Tempe Town Lake

1425 E. University Drive, Ste. B-102, in Tempe

Cost: Half-day (four-hour) rentals start at $25 per person.

5 of Arizona’s Best Places To Go Paddleboarding, According to Locals

Photo courtesy of Riverbound Sports Paddle Co via Instagram

If you don’t want to drive too far from Phoenix to paddleboard, you can rent a board or two from Riverbound Sports and enjoy the water at Tempe Town Lake. Float down the water as Tempe’s tall office buildings, hotels, and Tempe Beach Park drift past you.

According to Riverbound, sunset is a popular time to hit the lake. Paddleboaders launch from the Tempe Town Lake Marina. On Tuesdays and Fridays, Riverbound hosts weekly paddleboard meet-ups if you really want to be around other enthusiasts. The company’s office, where you pick up your gear, is a mile and a half from Tempe Town Lake.

Woods Canyon Lake

Forest Road 105, Woods Canyon Road US Highway 260, Mile Marker 282, FR 300 in Forest Lakes Estates

Cost: $25 per hour plus tax

5 of Arizona’s Best Places To Go Paddleboarding, According to Locals

Woods Canyon Lake via Instagram

Located about 30 miles from Payson in northern Arizona, Woods Canyon Lake beckons with smooth water and green trees of pine, fir, oak, and aspen in all directions. This is one of the Mogollon Rim lakes and is generally seen as an easy lake to paddle on. The lake sits at an elevation of 7,000 feet and is a cool-weather destination in the summer.

Wildlife abounds here, too. You might spot birds, squirrels, deer, and elk. Trout fishing is very popular here. The Woods Canyon Lake Store and Marina is only open seasonally from October to April (generally) and is closed when Forest Service roads are blocked off by snow.

What else to do: This area is a recreational haven and located near the Rim Lakes Vista Trail, where hikers can take in stunning views of the Mogollon Rim.

Lake Powell and Horseshoe Bend

836 Vista Ave. in Page

Cost: $30 national park fee to access the river; a full-day paddleboard rental costs $60; backhaul and shuttle service costs $75 per person and has a $150 minimum.

If you really want to go all out, you can take an epic paddleboard trip to iconic Horseshoe Bend in northern Arizona. Lake Powell Paddleboards and Kayaks cautions that you need to be an experienced paddleboarder to tackle this route.

You and your fellow guests will pick up your paddles in Page and make the 45-minute drive out to Lee’s Ferry to begin your journey. From there, you’ll take a boat ride to Glen Canyon Dam. You cannot put in at Glen Canyon Dam due to security zones set by the Department of Homeland Security, so you’ll arrive by river boat operated by Kelly Outfitters. Then, you’ll paddleboard on the Colorado River for roughly 16 miles until you reach Lee’s Ferry again.

According to Lake Powell Paddleboards, the entire journey will take about six to seven hours. You also have the option of camping along the way if you want to break up the trip. Your reward? Absolutely stunning views of the surrounding Red Rock Canyon coupled with emerald-colored, placid water. Please note that the river is far too cold at 48 degrees Fahrenheit to swim in for a long period of time. There’s also little to no shade along the water route.

READ MORE: Where’s the Best Barbecue in Metro Phoenix? Here Are 7 BBQ Joints Arizonans Love.


  • Teresa K. Traverse

    Teresa K. Traverse is a Phoenix, Arizona-based writer and editor. Her work also has appeared in national print outlets including Weight Watchers, Bust and Parenting magazines and on sites like Tripadvisor, Wine Enthusiast, SFGate, Brides, Rachael Ray Every Day, Bustle, Racked, ForRent.com, WeddingWire, Refinery29, The Daily Meal, Oxygenmag.com, USA Today and Fast Company. She's the managing editor of Sedona Monthly. In her spare time, she loves hiking, reading magazines and spending quality time with her long-haired Chihuahua, Rocket. Visit teresaktraverse.com to check out more of her work.

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