Writer Shannon Severson // Photography Courtesy of Arizona Game and Fish Department

Bartlett Lake boasts 2,815 acres of water surface for boating just 17 miles northeast of the town of Carefree. Surrounded by mountains and teeming with wildlife, desert plants and a stunning display of wildflowers each spring. The marina here is a family-run operation led by Bryan Church, who has taken on the care of this treasure, making improvements that increase accessibility for visitors to enjoy.

In addition to boat and jet ski rentals, there are opportunities to tour around under your own steam by renting a stand-up paddleboard or kayak. If you’ve got a crowd to entertain, a two-story 45-foot pontoon yacht can carry 20 passengers for a floating party.

Onshore, there is space to picnic or camp. If you’re not in the mood to cook, there are two dining options. Oar House serves up soft-serve ice cream, sandwiches, salads, hot dogs and burritos. The Cove At Bartlett has a more expansive menu, including catfish sliders, the Bartlett OG burger and an artichoke with parmesan aioli and chili butter.

Something especially unique about Bartlett Lake is its Bartlett Lake Marina Boat Club, a lower-cost alternative to boat ownership. Private membership entails a yearly fee for the use of 14 boats at the marina that range in type from pontoons to Sea-ray boats. The club takes care of things like insurance costs, slip fees, maintenance, repairs and storage.

Bartlett Lake // 20808 E. Bartlett Dam Road, Tonto National Forest, Carefree // 480-221-0503 // bartlettlake.com