Lake Pleasant Peoria AZ from the top

We recently had friends in from Illinois and I couldn't wait to show them our hidden gem, Lake Pleasant Regional Park. Many people don't realize that Arizona has lakes, and some are an hour or less away from the greater Phoenix area. I've taken my friends to Canyon Lake when we visited Tortilla Flat (one of my favorite double-decker boat rides). I've also taken them on a boat tour of Saguaro Lake in Mesa. But this was our first group trip to Lake Pleasant in Peoria.

My husband and I took our first trip a while back since I was studying hiking trails and where to see wildlife. I read about the wild burros at Lake Pleasant so we took a trip when my son was out visiting and we saw a herd down on a dry waterway. We even got kind of close to a family of three. We didn't expect to really see them so we were very excited.

herd of burros at Pipeline Trail at Lake Pleasant Regional Park

Then my son brought my two grandsons over the Christmas of 2023 and we went. My husband and I turned back at the dry waterway area but my son and grandsons kept walking. It was good that they did since they finally came across some of the burros.

On this last visit with my friends, we didn't even have to hike to see them. They were on the street and in the parking lot. My one brave friend got up and close and was petting the smallest one. Since there were eight of us we took 2 cars and separated. Four of us went straight to the restaurant on the Scorpion Bay dock and the other four did the hike. I didn't know that my husband grabbed some carrots (I guess he thought the burros would be out that day) so that group was able to feed them.

little friendly wild burro at Lake Pleasant

friend petting wild burro at Lake Pleasant in Arizona
One of my friends getting up close and personal to a young wild burro

Did you know wild burros are calmer than horses? Although I'm not brave enough to get as close as my friend did, and my other friends that had carrots said after the food ran out the burros were nudging them, they don't get easily spooked by humans. I'm sure the wild burros of Lake Pleasant are used to seeing people and get fed by some, so they are even more acclimated to people. But be careful

About Lake Pleasant Regional Park in Peoria, Arizona

a view of Lake Pleasant in Peoria AZ

Beautiful Lake Pleasant has more than 23,000 acres of pristine water and desert landscape. Lake Pleasant Regional Park is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts looking for adventure, relaxation, and scenic views. You can choose from different hiking trails and there are two marinas.

We've only been to the Scorpion Bay Marina and dined at the Scorpion Bay Grill. One of these days I want to go to the Pleasant Harbor Marina and eat at Dillon's Bayou.

When you arrive at the Scorpion Bay Marina, you get an awesome view of the lake from the top. You can take the stairs down (a lot of them) or take the fun but slow-moving tram or elevator thing or whatever they call it. There are two but sometimes only one is working. There are public restrooms available and they've always been clean.

Husband Jimmy with son Chad in front taking stairs

Getting to Lake Pleasant

Lake Pleasant is conveniently located just an hour away from downtown Phoenix, making it easily accessible for visitors coming from all directions. You can drive to the lake via State Route 74, which offers stunning views of the Sonoran Desert and the Bradshaw Mountains. Alternatively, you can take a shuttle or private tour from Phoenix to Lake Pleasant for a hassle-free travel experience.

I love the drive starting on the Sonoran Highway with the beautiful scenery. This was my first view of the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Limited (TSMC; also called Taiwan Semiconductor) factory. I recently received an inquiry from a home buyer that wants to live close to the factory, so he must have plans to work there. On the way home once we saw a bunch of hot air balloons getting ready to land.

Things to Do at Lake Pleasant

From hiking and water sports to wildlife watching, Lake Pleasant offers a wide range of activities for visitors of all ages and interests. Here are some of the top things to do at the lake:

Boating and Water Sports

As the second largest lake in the Phoenix area, Lake Pleasant is a mecca for boating, fishing, swimming, and water sports. Whether you're into wakeboarding, tubing, kayaking, or stand-up paddleboarding, you'll find plenty of opportunities to enjoy the water. You can rent a boat or bring your own and explore the lake's coves, beaches, and islands.

We had planned on renting a pontoon on our last visit but it was a chilly day so we opted for a hike (for some of us) and dining at Scorpion Bay Grill. Some people were dining outside but when we got there the tables in the sun were taken and it was too cold to sit in the shade, so we sat inside.

Check the times for this restaurant as one time we went it was closed that day. We were still able to buy sandwiches at the general store and eat them at a table on the lake at the grill. I've seen families eating on a pontoon boat and it didn't appear they were renting it. I wouldn't do that out of respect for the boat owners.


Lake Pleasant is home to a variety of fish species, including largemouth bass, striped bass, catfish, and crappie. You can fish from the shore or a boat, and there are several fishing piers and docks available for public use. If you're new to fishing, you can join a guided fishing tour or take a class at the park's visitor center.

Camping and RVing

If you want to extend your stay at Lake Pleasant, there are several camping and RV sites available within the park. You can choose from tent sites, RV sites, and group campsites, all of which offer easy access to the lake and the park's amenities. Some of the top campgrounds at Lake Pleasant include Desert Tortoise, Roadrunner, and Cottonwood.

Hiking and Biking

our hiking shadows on the Pipeline Trail at Lake Pleasant Recreational ParkFor those who prefer to stay on land, Lake Pleasant has a network of hiking and biking trails that offer stunning views of the lake and the surrounding mountains. You can choose from easy, moderate, and difficult trails, depending on your skill level and preferences. Some of the top hiking trails at Lake Pleasant include Pipeline Canyon Trail, Yavapai Point Trail, and Wild Burro Trail.

We've only been on the Pipeline Canyon Trail and we've seen people with their dogs. One of the times we were there I saw people carrying their small dogs at the dry bed. They told us the stickers on the ground were hurting their dogs' feet. I had never seen stickers there before, so it must have been the time of year (December). We had to knock the stickers off our shoes and pants legs as they were everywhere near the dry area, and we warned other people coming with their dogs.

Wildlife Watching

Lake Pleasant is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including bald eagles, coyotes, javelinas, and bobcats. You can explore the park's nature trails and observation decks to spot these animals in their natural habitats.

We've only seen burros and birds. Our neighbors saw a rattlesnake so I'm always on the lookout.

Places to Stay Near Lake Pleasant

If you're looking for a place to stay near Lake Pleasant, there are several options available, ranging from luxury resorts to budget-friendly motels. Here are some of the top places to stay near the lake:

Lake Pleasant RV Park

Located just minutes away from Lake Pleasant Regional Park, Lake Pleasant RV Park offers spacious RV sites with full hookups, as well as amenities like a swimming pool, hot tub, and clubhouse.

Comfort Inn

Situated in the heart of Peoria, Comfort Inn is a budget-friendly hotel that offers comfortable rooms, free breakfast, and easy access to Lake Pleasant and other local attractions.

Posted by Judy Orr on
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