As an Arizona-born child, summer is my favorite time of the year and believe it or not, the Grand Canyon State has plenty of water to play in.
If you’re in the state visiting or planning to take a trip, you won’t regret getting outside to visit at least one of the places on the list below. The views and hiking are incredible. If you’re into photography, be sure to bring along a waterproof camera or protective case for your phone. There are some views you’ll definitely want to take home with you.
Sitting on the northern border of Utah and Arizona, Lake Powell is one of the most beautiful bodies of water in the world. Because of its massive size, the lake is accessible from a number of marinas along the more than 1500 miles of shoreline. The views are spectacular at sunrise and sunset as the colors of dozens of side canyons and the sky bounce off the water. Whether you want to camp, rent a houseboat for an extended vacation or stay in a nearby hotel, Lake Powell has a ton to offer. Visitors should rent jet skis or a powerboat to get around the lake, especially if you’re into water sports like skiing or boarding. Just be sure to watch your gas so you don’t get stranded.
Just around the corner from Lake Powell you’ll find the Colorado River and Marble Canyon. The Colorado is the body of water responsible for cutting the Grand Canyon into the wonder of the world it is today. Down at Lees Ferry, if you aren’t taking a river trip yourself (which, everyone should at least once in their lifetime) you’ll see river guides getting their boats ready for a week- (or 2-) long trip down the canyon.
They’ll be preparing to raft some of the most challenging and biggest rapids in the world in the bottom of one of the oldest, most spectacular places on earth. In the spring and summer months for the monsoons in July, the water is a deep green. Once it starts raining, it turns to a brown-red, which is how it got its name from the Spaniards upon discovery. You can also fish here, so long as you grab a permit at the local gas station on the way in. Because of the fast-paced movement of the river, you should not swim.
The water at Havasupai Falls is aqua-turquoise, but you’re going to have to work to see the good stuff. Nestled on the Havasupai Indian Reservation, getting to the falls requires a 9-mile hike each way and you’ll have to pack in all of your water and food. I promise, it’s worth it. Between the color of the water, red rocks and blue skies, it’s quite the site to see. At the end of your journey you’ll no doubt want to take a swim, so be sure to bring an extra pair of hiking clothes for the trip out (although you will dry quickly in the dry Arizona sun). There isn’t always service in this part of the state, so be sure to also pack a map and your GoTenna.
Located just south of Flagstaff, winding through Oak Creek Canyon and into Sedona, Oak Creek is a favorite local destination. There are dozens of trails to explore and plenty of areas for a picnic right next to the water. Hiking the red rocks and ending with a cool swim is a classic Arizona activity, especially in the hot summer months. Most of the area is controlled by the National Park Service, so be prepared to pay a fee on your way into a particular campground or hiking trail.
One final thought: Water, water, water. Bring extra drinking water. If you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. Sunscreen isn’t a bad idea either.