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Horseshoe Lake Recreation Area

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General Information

Description - The Horseshoe Recreation site is available for camping (14 units), camp trailers, picnicking, fishing and boating. Like Bartlett, it is open year-round.
Boating and fishing at Horseshoe Lake depends on the regular fluctuations in water elevations. It is routine for SRP to nearly drain the reservoir in the summer to provide water for the metropolitan area. The Ocotillo Boating Site provides a launch ramp for smaller boats.

Recreation - Recreational activities include boating, fishing, picnicking and camping.

Climate - Temperatures range from lows near 25 degrees F. in the months of December and January to highs that may exceed 115 degrees F. from July through September. Precipitation generally ranges from 2 to 8 inches per year.

Location - From Carefree go 22 miles east to Bartlett Lake. Horseshoe Lake is 10 miles north of Bartlett Lake on the Verde River. It can be reached by a well-marked turnoff from the road to Bartlett Lake.

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Trip Reports:
Add your own trip Report! Newly re-released feature. One of the most popular features on Wildernet, trip reports allow you to share your experiences with others. This is an invaluable resource for determining what to expect on your outdoor adventure, so please participate! To prevent spamming, you must be a registered user of Wildernet in order to submit a trip report

Filed By: Laura Whitman (Phoenix, AZ)
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: We took a weekday trip to see the Horseshoe lake being dumped over the Bartlett Dam at 1100 gallons per minute!! What a beutiful sight, pictures didn't do it justice. There is a walkway UNDER the water fall, it's very noisy and very wet but WOW what a thrill. This doesn't happen every year so when it does, go check it out! Well worth the 40 mile drive one-way (7 of which were on a terribly maintained dirt road, glad we had a truck).

Filed By: Paul & Cindy (Holland, MI)
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: We took a trip out to Horseshoe Lake yesterday with friends that live here all winter. Surprised that after travelling 10 miles, seven on washboard road, that the lake was almost empty. Quite a site to see. Glad we did not purchase a pass to go down the road. After reading the other accounts, I guess since it's been so dry that the water is being used for the people.

Filed By: Denice (Scottsdale, az)
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Neutral
Report: Thought I'd venture our to Horseshoe Lake after visiting Barlett Lake, which is worth the trip, however, the very bumpy road in a Nissan Altima was a trip itself... Finally getting to the end of the dirt road and pulling up to the lake, I pulled over to take a pit stop and before I got any further, a Tarantula bigger than both my hands, came walking on by....I got a picture and headed right back onto the crazy - bumpy dirt road, stopped for 2 javalina's and at the end of the road onto Bartlett Dam Rd, a coyotee crossed the road with a dead javalina to my right.. And I was worried all day I'd run into a rattler....

Filed By: Phil (Scottsdale, AZ)
Number of People Encountered: 11-25 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Horseshow Lake is one of the first lakes that SRP empties when water supplies are running short. Frequently during the summer it is completely empty, as it was in 2004. however, it is still interesting, IMHO, to see the Verde River flowing through the bottom of an empty lake. Our kids thought it was great to climb down the access rails at the back of the dam right down to the puddle of water 80' below. However, the rains this winter (2004 - 2005) completely filled Horseshoe completely in a couple of months (Jan - Feb 2005). At the height of the rains, SRP was releasing 15,000 cfs over the spillway. The really cool thing is that you can walk UNDER the spillway. When your underneath, you look out at this roaring , massive wall of water - the kids were fascinated! I have some spectacular pictures. Highly recommended.

Filed By: Coffey (Phienix, AZ)
Number of People Encountered: 25-50 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: We took a quick road trip up from Phx., encountered some light rain, also lots of water flowing and standing. We assisted a young couple stuck just north of Riverside C.G. in the sand. This good karma episode was returned within hours of this. WE(my wife, one of our dogs, and I) were heading up to the Horseshoe Lake area encountering several flooded washes, nothing too deep until we were about 2 miles south of the Horseshoe dam when we encountered a flowing wash maybe 40 yards wide, approx. 3' deep. I saw two other vehicles pass through it without any problems a Wrangler was the last of the two. We were in a Wrangler. Got htrough 3/4 of the wash and the Jeep died. Did I look stupid or what? Well after several attempts to start I knew my exaust was under water.Front tires in about 8" of water, the back tires were basically covered. One unfriendly jerk just kinda drove by but a very nice couple were on the south side of the wash . I walked the path they could take which was to the right of my Jeep. These very nice people pulled me out of the water( I have no problem of being pulled out of the water by a girl. This young lady saw me drive into the wash. Just swallow the pride) They drove off (probably laughing at my expense)I opened the air filter and the old Jeep started right up. Got back to Phx. only an hour later than anticipated The area is spectacular!!! So much green, so much water flowing and standing. Lots of dead fish from the explosive flow from the dam(below Bartlett) One 3' bush was covered, like a Christmas tree, with shiney ornaments(dead little fish all over the bush). multiple bass, one good sized cat at least 10lbs. It is so worth going up there to both lakes. Go prepared in an appropriate vehicle. Look up at some of the rocky cliffs and will see waterfalls. A good time was had by all!!!!

Filed By: Scott (Ahwatukee, AZ)
Number of People Encountered: 11-25 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Not Recommended
Report: Well the wife and kids decided to take a road trip for the day to visit Bartlett Lake where we have visited before, on the way I remembered there was another lake called Horseshoe Lake. So I decided to check it out as it was only 3 miles further than Bartlett and cost the same price of $4 for 24 hours. As we paid at the ticket booth we made our way over the hill. The next thing you know you are on a bumby dirt road. Thank goodness I dive an SUV with 4wd otherwise I couldnt imagine the ride in anything else not 4WD. After going 10 miles on the bumpy ride we made it to the lake, and boy what a dissapointment. The water is low. There is no where to swim and not many rec areas to barbeque. This is not a place to bring the family, unless your just going fishing

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More Information

Contact Information:
Tonto National Forest, 2324 E Mcdowell Road , Phoenix, AZ, 85006, Phone: 602-225-5200

Additional Information:
Arizona Lakes and Reservoirs - The reservoirs and lakes in Arizona provide excellent water based recreational opportunities in this otherwise arid state. The water, combined with a typically warm climate makes the lakes and reservoirs very popular.
Central Arizona - Central Arizona, located in the middle of the state and north of Phoenix, features Prescott National Forest, Verde Valley Wilderness, Tonto Natural Bridge State Park, and Dead Horse Ranch State Park.
Phoenix Area - Known as the "Valley of the Sun," and covering over 400 square miles, the Phoenix metropolitan area lies southwest of the Mazatzal Mountains, near where the Verde and Salt Rivers meet.


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