Apache Lake is the second desert reservoir below the Mogollon Rim on the Salt River chain located in the Tonto Basin area of the Tonto National Forest. Often referred to as the prettiest lake on the Salt River chain, the lake sits among sun painted canyon walls that form the backdrop for the lake itself. The lake is only accessed from Payson, Arizona by the scenic Apache Trail beyond the Roosevelt Lake Dam which has been named one of the most scenic drives in Arizona.
The difficulty of access makes this an ideal spot for those looking to avoid crowds. Apache is never closed for capacity reasons so outdoor enthusiasts can always enjoy empty coves, glassy water, and hidden beaches framed by native saguaros and awe-inspiring cliffs. This pristine environment is popular for its cool water and magnificent scenery. Apache Lake is 17 miles long and a spectacular site for boating, fishing, water sports, hiking, camping, and all forms of outdoor recreation. Apache Lake also contains a population of big horn sheep that are often observed on the desert’s surrounding desert cliffs and mountains.
Apache Lake is home to largemouth, smallmouth, yellow bass, bluegill, crappie, walleye, channel and flathead catfish, trout, and carp. Several fishing tournaments are held every year thanks to the lake’s wealth of fish and accommodations available to host fishermen any time of the year.
Apache Lake is open to both motorized and non-motorized boating including waterskiing. There are two boat launch facilities at Apache Lake including a full-service marina. Apache Lake 2656 surface acres with a maximum depth of 264 feet. The closest boat launch to Payson is at the Burnt Corral Campground just 4 miles south of the Roosevelt Dam on the Apache trail.
There is disperesed camping along the lake shore and the closest established campground to Payson are the Upper and Lower Burnt Corral Campground just 4 miles south of the Roosevelt Dam on the Apache trail. Davis Wash and Crabtree Wash are two more popular campgrounds at Apache Lake.
RESTAURANT AND RESORT
Apache lake has a restaurant and a resort with rooms available. There is an RV park for those looking to park and RV, and several campgrounds at Apache Lake managed by the US Forest Service.
The Horse Mesa Dam is 65 miles northeast of Phoenix, Arizona and was constructed from 1924-1927 at a cost of $5,248,00. The dam is 660 feet long and 300 feet high. Canyon Lake is the next Salt River lake located just south of Apache Lake.