Time Estimate: Varies
Skill Level: Beginner
Water Type: Lake
Directions: Saguaro Del Norte Recreation Site
Fees: Tonto National Forest Pass (A National Parks Pass will also work). There is a ranger station at the entrance to the parking lot here, where you can purchase day and annual passes. No pass required on the water, assuming you have no motor.
Saguaro Lake is set in Tonto National Forest within the Sonoran Desert. It’s one of four reservoirs along the Salt River and is beautifully rimmed with canyon walls and towering saguaro cacti. It has more than 22 miles of shoreline with plenty of coves to explore Being just 20 minutes from Mesa, Arizona, it’s a very convenient place to paddle board and cool off!
Saguaro Del Norte Recreation Site is located on the northwest side of Saguaro Lake, close to the main marina, and just around the corner from Butcher Jones Recreation Site. Given its proximity to the marina, this area does get a fair amount of boat traffic.
Saguaro Del Norte Recreation Site includes the following features:
- kayaking, canoeing, and paddle boarding
- swimming from a single tiny beach
- cliff jumping
- picnic shelters/tables
Paddle Boarding Guide
Upon arriving at Saguaro Del Norte Recreation Site, you’ll find a medium-size parking lot that tends to fill up by late morning. There is a ranger station at the entrance to the parking lot here, where you can purchase day and annual passes.
There is one small beach towards the start of the parking lot, next to the boat ramp, which is the preferred location for launching your paddle board. Be prepared to carry your paddle board a short ways if you end up towards the back of the parking lot.
Most of this shoreline consists of large boulders, making it difficult to enter/exit the water. There are several small docks along this stretch that you may be able to enter the water from, but depending on the time of year, the docks sit fairly high off the top of the water.
Once on the water from the beach, you can head in one of two directions:
- Left Towards Butcher Jones Recreation Site: This route will take you next to beautiful cliff faces, towards the direction of Butcher Jones Recreation Site. You’ll likely find people hanging out on the rocks and jumping from cliffs along several points.
- Right Towards the Marina: Turn right from the beach and you’ll find yourself next to the main marina. Be cautious of boat traffic.