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Kayaking the Lakes Near Phoenix

Listed under in Phoenix, United States.

  • Photo of Kayaking the Lakes Near Phoenix
  • Photo of Kayaking the Lakes Near Phoenix
Photo of Kayaking the Lakes Near Phoenix
Photo by Hal Peat
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It's true, find an inland body on the planet and you will also probably find a kayaker on it sooner or later. What is also true, is you can create an artificial lake and also attract the determined kayaker onto it, even in the middle of the desert. One American example of all that is some of the communities surrounding the desert city of Phoenix. Where there was once no water, in recent decades the growing human presence has made the water come to them in man-made lakes of varying size -- and many of them are open to paddling. In the community of Scottsdale, for instance, you will find at least two man-made lakes where people will take water craft out when the conditions are right. That usually means, either cooler temperatures after October or when the wind is up. The artificial lakes at McCormick Ranch are both deep and wide enough for kayaking. You will have to either bring your own over or head into nearby Tempe or Mesa or possibly north Scottsdale to rent kayaks for the day, then drive and park at the park. Areas of the lakes here have some concrete platforming and landings open to the public - with a day permit, you can spend time paddling the circuit here which will take you by open park, the edges of suburban homes and views of the desert mountains miles away. There is not a lot of activity on or by these lakes, other than occasional anglers, and the resident year-round ducks and wild geese.

The university town of Tempe just south also has a large man-made lake recently completed in this decade that has a full range of kayaking activities and facilities maintained by the city's parks and recreation department. You register with them for a particular date, event or outing of your own, then you meet up at their location. Life jackets are mandatory, and they recommend you wear lycra or polyester, but most efficient might be a wetsuit, especially in colder weather. You can rent wetsuits if you do not have one from REI or kayak rental operators. No jeans, no flip-flops, and you must be over 18 to participate. Other than that, this huge body of water goes under bridges and along an interesting variety of suburban landscape. Many of their kayak events are geared around "moonlight ride" type outings, but there is daytime paddling also.

The general highlights of kayaking on lake surfaces in this desert corner of the country: this will mainly be about your appreciation of the immediate surrounding lakeside area environment, the vistas of the desert mountains which are forever splendid to look at, especially at dusk when they turn a unique shade of muted pink - and taking the opportunity to work on some of your kayaking skills in still water. Along with that, you can concentrate on kayak fitness and its benefits, and fit in some unimpeded and totally smooth laps up and down the lakes to get a solid cardio and upper body workout.

Written by  Hal Peat.

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