Little known fact: Arizona has more shoreline than the entire west coast of the United States, but it’s still not a destination known for its sandy, white beaches. Despite a lack of an ocean, there are plenty of places to swim in Arizona’s lakes and rivers. While there aren’t many sandy beaches, visitors to Arizona’s lakes and rivers usually come for recreational sports such as boating, fishing, water skiing and river rafting. Of course, there are a few sandy beaches in Arizona, and even one full-on beach resort, not to mention plenty of beachfront vacation rentals in Arizona.
1. Centennial Beach
The Colorado River originally put Yuma on the map, but until recently it was difficult to find your way to the shoreline. The city has done an amazing job revamping its waterfront, and now there are lots of ways to enjoy river vistas as your explore the historic Yuma Crossing. Centennial Beach is the latest addition to Yuma’s waterfront, installed in the West Wetlands just downriver from Gateway. Above the beach are a small lake, picnic ramadas, and restrooms.
2. Buckskin Mountain State Park
Buckskin Mountain State Park is a beautiful combination of stony mountains and sparkling water. It straddles a picturesque section of the river and offers a slender beach where swimming is permitted. There’s also a shady campground, 21 cabana sites, a volleyball court, hiking trails, and a market meaning that everything you need is within walking distance of your vacation rental.
3. Windsor Beach
Lake Havasu clocks in at nearly 11,000 acres, by far the largest of the western Arizona state parks, meaning that it provides Arizona with a lot of its prime beachfront property. Windsor Beach, a long stretch of white sand, is the main attraction. There are a picnic area and a 47-site campground, twelve of which are beachfront. For more fun on the water, boat and jet ski rentals are available from Windsor Beach Rentals.
4. Tempe Beach Park
Tempe is a town located in the greater Phoenix area and offers a beach park on the shore of Tempe Town Lake. Tempe Lake is an artificial reservoir that was created by building two dams on the Salt River, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t enjoy it! The Park is located at the corner of Mill Avenue and Rio Salado Parkway, right near the Tempe Center for the Arts and Arizona State University. There’s a series of paths for walking, jogging, or biking along its edges, and it’s also a great place for electric, wind and human-powered boats.
5. Cattail Cove State Park
Hugging the southern edge of Lake Havasu is Cattail Cove, State Park. This Park protects a long piece of scenic shoreline, and there’s even swimming is allowed in the roped-off area adjacent to the beach. There are also some small, secluded beaches only a short hike downstream, and a dog beach just south of the boat ramp. There are also 61 campsites and 32 boat-in campsites available, so whether you’re interested in swimming, fishing or just lounging and relaxing, Cattail Cove State Park is the perfect place for you.
6. Rotary Beach
Lake Havasu City has a few great free public beaches, and Rotary Beach is another one of them. This 40-acre site has picnic areas, barbecues, play areas for the kids, volleyball courts, bocce courts, a skate park, and a designated swim area. With its lush green grass and tree-shaded walkways, it’s the perfect place to wind down and relax.
7. River Island State Park
Nestled in a sloping bowl at the base of stark mountains is River Island State Park in Parker, Arizona. This intimate beach sits next to the boat ramp and just beyond the campground with a grassy lawn, thats perfect for tents. Sprawling mesquite trees offer a hint of shade at the edge of the beach, and the short but scenic Wedge Hill Trail climbs the rocky slopes above for staggering views.
8. London Bridge Beach
London Bridge Beach, also in Lake Havasu City, may be Arizona’s most ocean-like beach thanks to its swaying palm trees and soaring seagulls. It’s located along Bridgewater Channel and offers a great view of the famous bridge. Spreading out along the edge of the lake it includes playgrounds, picnic areas, a walking path, a grassy park with shade trees, volleyball courts and an enclosed dog park. Theres a nice portion of sand surrounding the palm trees and a designated swim area. With small waves lapping the shore and gulls crying overhead, you’ll forget you’re not actually by the ocean!
9. Patagonia Lake State Park
Patagonia Lake State Park is tucked away amid rolling hills and acts as an oasis in the high desert. This 265-acre reservoir draws summer visitors from as far as Northern Mexico looking to cool off. There’s a roped-off swim area at Boulder Beach, and swimming is allowed in any part of the lake except boat-launch areas. Come here for boating, water skiing, fishing, kayaking and camping.
10. Wahweap Beach
With 1,900 miles of shoreline, Lake Powell also offers a variety of countless remote beaches, some of which don’t even require a boat. Wahweap Bay is the first bay of Lake Powell, and Wahweap Beach sits just south of the Stateline launch ramp. Boat rentals and tours are available at Wahweap Marina, or you can drive to the other side of the bay and hike in one of the canyons.