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A Weekend at Watson Lake, Prescott Arizona

This place deserves way more attention because it is downright awesome. Watson lake is only a few miles from Prescott, making it a super easy and accessible activity for friends and family. There are huge granite boulders surrounding and emerging from the bright blue water of the lake, making it not only fun for outdoor recreation but incredible for photography. From kayaking to paddleboarding and fishing to camping... there's always something to do at Watson Lake.

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Location: 3101 Watson Lake Rd

Day Use Price: $3.00/vehicle


Spring Hours: 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM

Summer Hours: 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM

Winter Hours: 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM


There are countless activities to do there but unfortunately THERE IS NO SWIMMING! Evidently the waters around the Prescott area are extremely polluted and doesn't meet the state's standards for swimming water. I don't want to deter you from visting though... just don't get in!

Things to Do:


-Two boat launches

-Fish cleaning stations

-Paddle Boarding

-Canoeing and Kayaking

-Picnic areas

-A large open field


-Horseshoe pits



-Hiking trails

-Overnight camping (summer months only)

-Showers for campers

Photo by Kevin Eassa; @kevineassa

Canoe, Paddle Board, and Kayak Rentals:

I actually own an inflatable stand up paddle board so we didn't rent one. It was also incredibly, incredibly windy the day we were there and I didn't want to fall into the dirty water, so unfortunately I never got a chance to use it. However, assuming the weather is nice and you want to rent one, here's the place!

Phone: (928) 925-1410

Hourly Rate:

Tandem Kayak or Canoe: $20.00 first hour ($15.00 per each additional hour)

Solo Kayak: $15.00 first hour ($10.00 per each additional hour)

Stand Up Paddle Boards: $20.00 per hour

Daily Rate:

Tandem Kayaks or Canoes: $75.00 per day

Solo Kayak: $50.00 per day

Stand up Paddle Boards: $75.00 per day

*all rentals include a paddle and PFD's (personal floatation devices aka Life Jacket)*

I highly recommend you get out on the water in a boat! I was really looking forward to it but I just didn't get a chance because of the wind. There's a ton of little nooks and crannies to paddle into, it's really incredible.



There are 19 reservable campsites and 15 first come first serve sites.

To reserve a site, click here and make an account.

We went to Watson Lake very last minute, so we took a chance with a first come first serve site and totally lucked out. I will say, the campsites aren't anything special. The main reason for staying would to be closer to the lake. There's not many trees or shaded areas. There are picnic tables and a grate for grilling, though!

Our campsite (our van broke down lol)

Check in- 12:00 noon

Check out- 12:00 noon

Since checkout was at noon, we made sure we were there with plenty of time to snag one as soon as one became available! We went in May so it wasn't quite in the middle of the busy season, so you may want to reserve a site in the summer months if possible.

Price: $20/night/per site

You pay at the self serve kiosk over near the restrooms. It says it took card but it kept declining all of ours, so I recommend having cash on hand!

  • Showers and restrooms available, a parks employee will hand out the shower code to paid camping guests only.

  • A “campsite” is defined as a maximum of four persons, (1 RV/Trailer and 1 tent; or 2 tents) with a maximum of two vehicles.

  • Fires permitted in designated fire pits ONLY

  • Pets allowed on leash

  • Maximum of 3 days stay

  • Deposit trash in designated areas

The self-pay kiosk is right outside the bathroom building.

What to Pack:


Watson Lake is a wonderful gem hidden inside the state of Arizona. Running around and climbing on the rocks near the water was the highlight of my time there. The campsites don't have a ton of shade so that makes it kind of rough during the daytime if you don't have a tent or any sort of shelter but you could always go into the big grassy area near the entrance where there are some trees.

As far as the kiddos go, it's like a giant playground for them to run around and play on. There's even a legitimate playground for them too! Another thing that's incredible is that pets are allowed, so you can even bring your furry friends along.

All in all, I recommend you go here! As always, let me know if you have any questions!

And check out the Youtube video below!

All my love,



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