GOLDWATER LAKE: National Forest Surrounds Fishing, Birding, Hiking and More

by Kelly Tolbert, Recreation Coordinator, City of Prescott

Just 4 miles from downtown Prescott, Goldwater Lake is the perfect escape to the tall pine- filled forest where many opportunities for recreation await. Small, but quaint, the surface area of the lake is roughly 6,000 feet above sea level and measures approximately 15 acres.

Named after the esteemed uncle of Arizona Sen. Barry M. Goldwater, Goldwater Lake gets its name from longtime Prescott Mayor Morris Goldwater, who held many other offices in local politics during his lifetime. Additionally, notable contributions from Mayor Goldwater include financial assistance for the Phoenix-to-Prescott Railroad, as well as many other influential efforts resulting in Arizona becoming a state. Modern day evidence of his presence in the community can still be seen on the façade of the old mercantile on the corner of Union and Cortez streets.

Fishermen flock to the lake in the early hours, as the Arizona Game and Fish Department regularly stocks rainbow trout. (More information available here:

In addition to trout, fish species include largemouth bass, crappie, channel catfish, bluegill and sunfish. Fishing licenses can be obtained through various local retailers.

While many prefer to fish from the shoreline, boating is also an option. All of the lakes under the City of Prescott jurisdiction require “no wake,” and Goldwater is one that does not allow gasoline motors. There is a courtesy dock onsite for easy launching. Prescott Outdoors provides onsite kayak and canoe rentals during the summer months for a nominal fee. (More info at:

Hiking, bicycling and birding are other popular recreation activities visitors can enjoy at Goldwater Lake. This location is unique to the city as it is surrounded by the Prescott National Forest, allowing nearly unlimited trail access for miles of enjoyment. Bald eagles are one of many species of birds seen regularly by visitors. Goldwater offers large, covered ramadas and a ceremony pad available by reservation. This park typically fills up early in the season, so it is best to plan ahead for your event. Each ramada has various amenities within proximity such as playgrounds, volleyball court, horseshoe pits, picnic tables and restrooms. The park also features 50 or so day-use pads with a table and barbecues for smaller picnicking groups.

Operating hours for all three City of Prescott lakes change twice during the season. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, park hours are 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and sunrise to sunset otherwise. Day use fees are $3, but one pass gets you into Goldwater Lake, Watson and Willow lakes and both Peavine Recreation Trail locations and can be paid onsite with cash or credit cards. The Recreation Services Department offers visitors the ability to purchase online or in-person at 824 E. Gurley St., 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, visit