N. Arizona’s Best Watering Holes!


Who says there is no water in Arizona? Yes, water is scarce here in the southwest. I make it a point to save water whenever and wherever I can. Water is a beautiful thing! Our family loves going to be near, or in water, whenever we can. Whether you want to swim, fish, boat or just sit by the water, I hope you find something below that you love. These are not listed in any specific order as I think they are all great! And there are so many more not listed here!

Lake Mary – I love our beautiful mountain lake! I don’t swim here a ton but it is a great lake to fish, hike, and boat. I love bringing my paddle board there.

Oak Creek – Where to begin? There are so many beautiful spots. We are so lucky to have this amazing creek so close to Flagstaff. A few fun, better-known swim holes in Sedona include Slide Rock, Grasshopper Point and Red Rock Crossing. If you want some peace and quiet I would suggest pulling over near any point on the creek and hike on down! The photo (right) is a short hike upstream from Red Rock Crossing, away from the crowds!

West Fork Oak Creek – This beautiful creek feeds into Oak Creek and is great for getting your feet wet and hiking.


Lake Powell – Lake Powell Is located mostly in Utah but a small part of it is in Arizona. Regardless of your feeling about the dam and this huge reservoir, I could not leave it out! The scenery is stunning and the water is wonderful. You can swim, boat, fish, and hike here. This lake offers a huge variety of boating options from kayaking to house-boating.

East Clear Creek – This is a unique spot near Winslow, AZ. Lots of people drive here to cliff jump and unfortunately, the last time I was there, there was some graffiti too. If you have access to kayaks or paddle boards, you can float past all of that to a beautiful narrow canyon!

The Colorado River at Lee’s Ferry – Lee’s Ferry is one way to access the Colorado River in Northern Arizona. It is located about 15 miles downriver from the Glen Canyon Dam which forms Lake Powell. There is epic trout fishing here. You can do a flat water rafting trip, or pay to get your boat towed up the river, then float down on your own time. Being a raft guide here in Glen Canyon was my 1st job in Arizona, so it holds a special place in my heart!


Fossil Creek – I went here recently for the 1st time since they started the permit system. I received a permit about 6 weeks before we went. We were there mid week. There were quite a few people at the waterfall, but there were so many less crowded, gorgeous places to stop on the 1-mile hike up to the waterfall. Also since you can get parking permits at different locations along the creek, there are many options to cool off in the creek!

Wet Beaver CreekThere is a day use area that is easy to access.  There are also some longer hikes (Bell Trail) to get you up into more of the beauty.

West Clear CreekThe well know destination here is the Bull Pen Swimming Hole and there are many other places along the creek to stop and enjoy the water.

The Colorado River in The Grand Canyon – I saved this for last as it is not quite as accessible as the others. You can take a strenuous hike to the river at Phantom Ranch (or many other less popular trails to other points on the river) to access the Colorado River. Or you can take the ultimate (in my opinion) rafting trip through the Grand Canyon! This was my 1st job as well in AZ, after I trained for a few summers in Glen Canyon as a river guide. This trip is either commercially guided or you put in for a permit and hope to win a lottery to go on a private trip. This takes lots of planning and experience, but I could not leave it out, as it is epic whether you hike or raft!

If any of these sound interesting to you please do some more research before going. Some are paid entry, some need permits, some are 4wd access only. And as always be prepared, check the weather and leave no trace!

I’d love to hear your favorite places to get to the water in N. Arizona!


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Katie Woodard
Katie has lived in Flagstaff for 22 years and grew up in North Carolina. She has 10 and 12 year old boys who are certainly an adventure! Her family is by far the most rewarding part of her life. Katie loves hiking and running in our beautiful hills, skiing, river rafting, traveling, health and clean eating (thanks to a whacky thyroid). She is also always taking small steps to clean up our environment, and she is currently learning meditation and just loves learning in general! Katie and her college roommate drove to AZ from VA after college and Katie has only left briefly but Flagstaff is her home for sure! She met her wonderful husband while river guiding in the Grand Canyon. Katie is a family photographer at www.katiewoodardphotography.com, here in Flagstaff and loves capturing the natural love and beauty in families. Her newest fun adventure is co-founding Women Empowering Northern Arizona.