Arizona is just one of those states where heading down to the water is an absolute must. While the state might conjure up images of desert landscapes and canyons with rivers too deep to reach (we're looking at you, Grand Canyon), that's not entirely true of this western locale. In Tempe, there's a lake where all manner of summertime recreational activities can be done.

Tempe Town Lake is a section of water on the Salt River, and it's home to a number of pastimes that Tempe locals have engaged in for years now. With Arizona seeing warmer temperatures than much of the country year-round, a great way to take advantage of those dry, sunny days is by getting out on the water. Here's everything visitors (and locals!) can do when visiting Tempe Town Lake.


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*Please note that swimming is absolutely not permitted at Tempe Town Lake - only the previously approved water activities are permitted on this body of water. With no regular lifeguards on duty and no routine water quality tests, swimming is not a safe activity in this body of water.

Where Is Tempe Town Lake, And What Is It, Exactly?

Although Tempe Town Lake has the name of 'lake,' it's actually an artificial perennial reservoir. The lake is located along the Salt River, which is intermittent, and while it's not the largest, it is the second-most popular public attraction in the state. In order to create the lake, the down dammed up part of the Salt Lake River that was dried up, before routing water to it from the Colorado River. Although it sounds like a complicated process, it's actually quite simple, and it's become a hub of waterfront activity from the city of Tempe and the surrounding cities of Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Mesa.

The lake itself is two miles long and operates via a dam that raises or lowers the water level depending on rainfall or snowfall. According to the Tempe website, more than 2.4 million people come to Tempe Town Lake each year to enjoy all that it offers. It's also home to more than 40 events throughout the year, as well as the largest Independence Day celebration in the state of Arizona. For those living in the desert, a lake such as this is a welcome and exciting thing to look forward to when the weather permits it.

What To Do At Tempe Town Lake

Boating On The Lake

Renting a boat is a huge part of life in Tempe, especially for those who live near the lakeside. The best way to do this is through Boat Rentals of America - Tempe. This company is located on the south shore at Tempe Beach Park so it's easy to find and convenient for those visiting.

Visitors can rent a whole slew of boats from kayaks to ten-person donut boats. Another popular option is a peddle boat, which is operated by up to four people and makes easy work out of navigating the lake's waters. Those who are feeling a little bolder can rent stand-up paddleboards, as well as sit-on-top kayaks. For those who don't wish to do all the work, electric pontoons are available and hold up to eight people.

  • Donut Boat: $100/hour, $180/two hours
  • Single Kayak: $23/hour, $30/two hours
  • Peddle Boats: $35/hour, $50/two hours
  • Electric Pontoon: $75/hour, $125/two hours
  • Water Taxi rates: $5/one-way adult, $3/one-way child, $40 weekly pass & $75 monthly pass

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Fishing At Tempe Town Lake

Fishing is another popular activity at this town lake and it prevents the need for people to travel to national parks in order to get their lure on. Tempe Town Lake is home to a number of local fish species including catfish, bass, trout, and sunfish. Those interested in fishing in these calm waters must have a valid fishing license whether they're local to the state of Arizona or not.

Tempe fishing license regulations and rules can be found here. Licenses can be filed at the Arizona Fish and Game office, and children under the age of 13 are not required to have a license in order to partake in fishing at Tempe Town Lake. Those wishing to fish must also follow the rules and guidelines implemented by the Tempe Town Lake Park, including specific hours and etiquette (also included in the park guide).

  • Park Hours of Operation: 5 AM - 10 PM daily, anglers can fish from 5 AM until midnight
  • Rules: Swimming, wading, glass containers, and littering are all prohibited at the lake. All boats are required to have proper flotation devices on board and must have lights turned on after dusk.

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