Life in Carefree

Bartlett Lake

Picture of Bartlett Lake in Carefree Arizona
© Kelly DeLay

Bartlett Lake (or Bartlett Reservoir) is less than 20 miles from Carefree, Arizona and about 40 miles from Scottsdale. It is formed by Bartlett Dam and fed by the Verde River. Although Bartlett Lake is not as well known as Saguaro or Canyon Lake, when it is full, it has a larger water surface than Canyon and Saguaro combined.

The scenic drive through the Sonoran Desert with its gigantic granite boulders that appear stacked so elegantly is worth the trip by itself. It is particularly gorgeous during the spring when wildflowers and cactus blooms color the landscape. And when you arrive at the lake you will be rewarded with even more spectacular views of the surrounding mountains.

Bartlett Lake Statistics

Bartlett Lake is formed by Bartlett Dam on the Verde River. When full it has a surface area of 2,815 acres. Average depth is about 100 feet and maximum depth is 174 feet. The lake has 33 miles of shoreline and it is 12 miles long. Water depth and surface area depends upon the amount of rainfall and snow melt from the north watershed combined with the amount of lake water release by the Salt River Project (SRP). Call SRP at (602) 236-5929 to check water depth and any resulting boat ramp closures.

Water Recreation, Amenities and Guidelines

Water recreation and outdoor enthusiasts enjoy power boating, water- skiing, jet-skiing, fishing, hiking and camping. Dispersed camping is permitted at Bartlett Flats and RV camping is available at Yellow Cliffs. Boat launches sites are at Jojoba, Bartlett Flat, Yellow Cliffs and at Bartlett Marina.

The northern end of the lake is closed to water-skiing. Boat motors with noise levels greater than 82 decibels are prohibited. Rattlesnake Cove is closed to all motorized watercraft as well as any part of the Verde River that is free-flowing. Boat traffic within the lake is counter-clockwise.

Be advised that the lake can become quite crowded on weekends during summer months, often inhibiting access to boat ramp launches. Best to come early or consider camping overnight. There are four ramadas with picnic tables and cooking grills at Yellow Cliffs. There is also a picnic area at Bartlett Flat.

Fishing At Bartlett Lake

Fishing at the lake is popular as anglers search for trophy catches. Several state-record catches have been recorded at Bartlett Lake. A record small mouth bass weighing seven pounds was caught in 1977 and the record carp at over 37 pounds is credited to Bartlett. Many very large flathead catfish have been battled here. Types of fish at Bartlett include both small and largemouth bass, crappie, channel catfish, flathead catfish, bluegill, and carp.

Bartlett Lake Marina

Make your lake getaway convenient and more rewarding. Bartlett Lake Marina offers the public and members every amenity and service for a great time. Boat rentals of most types including pontoon and ski boats, and even a 45 foot, two-story party yacht complete with microwave, sink, refrigerator, bar, top deck slide and restroom. The yacht is perfect for up to 35 people and business retreats.

The marina has a general dock store that offers supplies, fishing bait, snacks, alcoholic and kid-friendly beverages. During the summer, enjoy the outdoor dock grill on a covered, floating patio. Kickback and enjoy the view with a burger and other goodies. The marina also has a service station and gas station.

Bartlett Lake Marina offers overnight camping at its private South Cove Beach that include room for your RV. If you are not into camping, the Aqua Lodge features cool and comfortable accommodations. The marina sells Tonto National Forest passes on-site.

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For More Information

There is a nominal fee of $6 per vehicle and $4 per watercraft per day to use the lake and area. The fees are subject to change without prior notice.

Bartlett Lake Video

This page was last modified on 22 February 2012 at 11:01
Carefree and Cave Creek, Arizona