Watersports: a Whale of a Good Time

Especially for a community that doesn’t sit on the coast or a Havasu-sized lake, Greater Prescott residents and visitors love to be on the water.

Since most of the area’s recreational lakes allow only nonmotorized crafts, although in some cases they permit motorized boats, it’s a playground for those who want to take smaller, more nimble sporting equipment out to kayak, paddleboard, sail or canoe. These activities provide some of the best workouts you can find, requiring a full-body intensity that’s difficult to find on land.

These and many more watery pastimes are here for you and your family to sample, after at least an orientation or a few lessons. They start with the most basic watersport of them all — no equipment necessary besides a suit and sunscreen:


There aren’t nearly as many pools here as you’ll find in the desert, but don’t write swimming off as a perfect way to enjoy the mild-to-warm summer here.

  • Prescott Valley’s Mountain Valley Splash is the area’s largest public outdoor aquatic center and is oriented toward recreational as well as athletic use, with six lanes for lap swimming as well as a zero-depth entry pool, 75-foot slide and splash pad.
  • The James Family Prescott YMCA has an indoor pool open for lessons, classes and lap swim.
  • In 2020 Prescott National Forest lifted swimming restrictions at its lakes: Lynx, Granite Basin, Mingus and Horsethief Basin. However, it is not allowed in the City of Prescott-operated lakes (Watson, Willow and Goldwater).


These watercrafts are linked by their dependence on a paddle or oar for maneuvering, but require different degrees of strength, balance and other skills. Kayaks generally have one or two small openings for occupants to sit in and don’t leave much room for equipment for fishing, camping or other pursuits. Stand-up paddleboards, somewhat similar to surfboards, require the most concentration and balance.

  • Prescott Outdoors — This firm is a longtime provider in renting kayaks, paddleboards and canoes at Watson Lake through Oct. 17 and on Goldwater Lake through Sept. 26. www.prescottoutdoors.com
  • Born 2 Be Wild — This mobile service brings kayaks and paddleboards to you: www.b2bwild.com


Here’s where you must work with the wind power nature decides to give you at any given point.

Sailing demands different skills from you. You need to be able to perceive shifts in your environment and react to them, whether it’s the breeze blowing out or a boat or family of ducks drifting into your path. It’s your job to negotiate how your craft gets to where it needs to go without endangering you or anyone in your path.

Sailing crafts come in many forms, from windsurfing and sailboards to catamarans, single-hulled boats and more. You can sail on any lake where nonmotorized boating is allowed.