Exploring The Beautiful Watson Lake

We decided to head out of the Phoenix area and check out Watson Lake. It is great lake from the cool blue water to the Granite Dell shoreline to the North. Watson Lake is only 4 miles outside of Prescott Arizona. The lake is close enough to Prescott that we traveled into town and had lunch. The lake is very easy to visit and a great place to bring the family. Swimming is prohibited, but there are many activities to do.

History Of The Lake

Watson Lake was created when the Chino Valley Irrigation District dammed up the Granite Creek in 1915 to create a reservoir to supply water to the local area. The town of Prescott purchased Watson lake in 1997 to preserve the lake and surrounding area for recreation. Today, the lake has a fully equipped campground that includes boat launches, picnic ramadas, restrooms, and plenty of parking.

Go Hiking Around The Lake

For hikers, there is the 5.2 mile Peavine National Recreation Trail. The trail loops around the lake and is a nice and easy trail that you can take the family on. The trail also connects with the Iron King Trail and you can continue for another 4 miles up the old railroad trackbed.

If you’re into hiking you might want to check out the Prescott Circle Trail. It is a 50-mile trail system. We will have to leave that trail for another blog post.

Take Your Boat Out On The Lake

Boats with gas-powered and electric powered motors are permitted on Watson Lake, but there is a 5 MPH “no wake” speed limit. A nice boat launch is available with large parking spots. I could see on a busy day you might run out of parking, but when we visited there were plenty of parking spaces.

There are restrooms available in the parking lot of the boat launch. This makes it very convenient when using your boat. There is also a nice large dock at the boat launch.

You can even rent canoes and kayaks at the boat launch. For more information see:

Prescott Outdoors


Spend The Night At The Campground

The campground is only available Thursday through Monday during the summer months from the first weekend in April to the first weekend in October. There are 19 campsites that can be reserved, and 15 sites that are on a first come first serve basis. When we visited, the campground was totally full so I would suggest making a reservation early.

The campgrounds include restrooms with showers, picnic areas, and plenty of parking. The camping sites are dry only so there are no hookups for your RV. There is a limit of four people per campsite so if you have a large group you might need to reserve multiple sites.

Speaking of large groups. If you want to rent the grass field or a ramada you can do that. When we visited, someone had rented the Ramada on top of the hill for a party. The ramada had plenty of parking for the party and the views from the ramada were fantastic. If you have a large event you can even rent the entire campground! For rental information go here.


We had a great day at the lake! We will be back very soon and I might stay at the campground. It looked like fun for the whole family with plenty to do.

Just The Facts

Surface area is 70 acres
The average depth is 50′
Elevation is 5,100′

When Is it open?

Summer (April 28 – September 29) Hours: 7:00 AM to 10:00 PM
Winter Hours 7:00 AM to Sunset


Parking Fee is $3.00