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Posts Tagged ‘Arizona beach’

Travel Theme: Mountains

Posted by Jody on February 16, 2013

Let’s face it. Some people are mountain people. Other folks prefer the desert.

Then there are those of us who would rather spend our days at the beach.

But what if you could have the best of all of these worlds? What if you simply didn’t have to choose?

Willow Beach, Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Willow Beach, Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Wild and wonderful Willow Beach really does have it all!  Mother Nature’s delectable buffet, Willow Beach has beautiful mountains, hot and sunny desert, and welcoming beaches! Less than an hour south of Las Vegas, Nevada, this amazing recreation area is a relaxing respite from the lights, action, and crowds of Sin City.

Located on the east banks of the Colorado River within the Lake Mead National Recreation Area and surrounded by stately mountains, this Arizona oasis is the perfect place to stretch out and relax with a good book or to launch your paddle adventure.  Take a dip in the cool, fresh water or stake your claim for a day of fishing right here, smack-dab in the middle of  the sun-drenched Black Canyon region of the Mojave Desert.

And that, my friends, is how we fit one of our favorite beach escapes into

this week’s “Travel Theme: Mountains!”


Helpful links: I Hit the Jackpot at Willow Beach

Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Have a great day at the beach!

Posted in Beaches of North America, Inland Shores | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 14 Comments »

A (Lake) Pleasant Surprise!

Posted by Jody on January 11, 2013

"Where's the beach?" (Behind you!) -Lake Pleasant Regional Park

“Where’s the beach?” (Right behind you!) -Lake Pleasant Regional Park

Greg and I just discovered the most amazing lake in the arid, saguaro-studded hills of central Arizona! Never mind the fact that our family has been driving back and forth from Albuquerque, New Mexico, to the Phoenix metropolitan area (Arizona) for nearly 23 years now. It’s hard to believe that we’ve been passing by this beautiful oasis, nestled in the Sonoran Desert, for decades!

Lake Pleasant Regional Park, Peoria, Arizona

Lake Pleasant Regional Park, Peoria, Arizona

Tucked into the Valley of the Sun, Lake Pleasant Regional Park is actually located within the municipal boundaries of Peoria, Arizona. The reason this is all so amazing (and almost embarrassing) is that my mother-in-law has lived in Peoria for over 20 years! In our defense, there is a large, recently installed, brand spanking new sign along southbound Interstate 17 announcing the recreation area to all who drive by. Better late than never!

Lake Pleasant Regional Park, Peoria, Arizona

Lake Pleasant Regional Park, Peoria, Arizona

Lake Pleasant Regional Park

Beaches, beaches everywhere!

Located just 45 minutes from downtown Phoenix, Lake Pleasant (Arizona’s second largest lake) spans 10,000 acres. A holding lake, its water comes from two sources: Central Arizona Project Canal and the Aqua Fria River. Lake Pleasant Regional Park is managed by the Maricopa County Parks & Recreation Department, the largest regional park  system in the United States!

New Waddell Dam, Lake Pleasant Regional Park, Peoria, Arizona

New Waddell Dam, Lake Pleasant Regional Park, Peoria, Arizona

Lake Pleasant Regional Park has it all: swimming, hiking, picnicking, camping, boating, fishing, mountain biking, wildlife viewing, and the list goes on. Pick a beach, any beach, for a refreshing swim or to launch your paddling trip!

Lake Pleasant Regional Park

Bring your own shade to the beach!

The water is cool, crystal clear, and oh, so placid.

Cool, clear water of Lake Pleasant

Cool, clear water of Lake Pleasant

Can you believe that this gorgeous gem is tucked away in the dusty, dry desert just northwest of Phoenix?

Scorpion Bay Marina and Floating Restaurant, Lake Pleasant

Take the tram or the stairs to the new Scorpion Bay Marina and floating restaurant!

Lake Pleasant Regional Park is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. There is  an entrance fee of  $6.00 per vehicle ~ a real bargain for the available amenities! Be sure to stop at the Nature Center to chat with the friendly park hosts and see the wildlife exhibits. You can also check for upcoming events which might include ranger talks, guided paddle tours, and group hikes. Sign me up!

From central Phoenix, take I-17 north to Carefree Highway (SR 74). Exit Carefree Hwy. and travel west 15 miles to Castle Hot Spring Road. Travel north to Lake Pleasant Regional Park entrance.

Lake Pleasant Regional Park, Peoria, Arizona

Lake Pleasant Regional Park, Peoria, Arizona

¡Hasta luego, mi amigos!


Helpful links: Lake Pleasant Regional Park, City of Peoria, Visit Peoria, Arizona

Posted in Friday Finds, Inland Shores | Tagged: , , , , , | 22 Comments »

Travel Theme: Couples

Posted by Jody on October 23, 2012

Willow Beach, Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Arizona

“If I had a day that I could give you
I’d give to you a day just like today.”

~Sunshine on My Shoulders, Lyrics by John Denver

This week’s Travel Theme is “couples.”

For more on Willow Beach, Arizona: “I hit the jackpot at Willow Beach!

Posted in Inland Shores, Today's Special | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Patriot Day -USA- A Moment of Silence

Posted by Jody on September 11, 2012

 9/11 Memorial at London Bridge Beach Park, Lake Havasu City, Arizona

Lake Havasu City, Arizona

9/11 Memorial Plaque at London Bridge Beach (Photo: ©Jody Diehl)


Posted in Beaches of North America, Inland Shores, Today's Special | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

I hit the jackpot at Willow Beach!

Posted by Jody on June 29, 2012

I’ve made the 585 mile driving trip between Albuquerque, New Mexico and Las Vegas, Nevada many times a year – for 22 years now.  So, there’s no telling how many times I’ve passed the nondescript sign to Willow Beach on US Hwy 93,  less than 50 miles south of the famous Las Vegas Strip. I’m talking hundreds!

Why hadn’t we ever stopped at Willow Beach? Well, for a long time there was major road construction on the Hoover Dam fly-over (it seemed like decades).  Over the years, our in-car deliberations included, but were not limited to: “It’s way too hot to head off onto some remote desert byway.” “We’re almost there. Let’s just get where we’re going.”  “Do we really want to take a detour, especially when we don’t know how many miles it is down the road?”  “It’s probably just some little kayak launch site on the river.” “Are we there yet?”

Road to Willow Beach

On this last trip through, though, I decided I would actually schedule a stop at Willow Beach to see for myself what was out there in the middle of the Mojave Desert, down the dry, dusty, desolate road.

Let me tell you, I hit the jackpot way before I hit the casinos!

View from the shaded picnic tables at the park overlook.

I was absolutely blown away by what I found. Located in the Black Canyon region of the Colorado River, just 11 miles downstream from Hoover Dam, Willow Beach is an amazingly gorgeous and colorful oasis. It really does have to be seen to be believed! It turns out that the National Park Service (Lake Mead National Recreation Area) recently completed a $20 million redevelopment of the Willow Beach area. It shows. Willow Beach has a marina, fishing pier, riverfront trail, plenty of covered picnic tables, multiple comfort stations (restrooms), a cafe, and a convenience store. And, indeed, it does have a kayak launch site.

Willow Beach Marina

The little beaches of this oasis welcome visitors into the placid, crystal clear water of the Colorado. Yes, the Colorado River does flow south through Willow Beach, but the water is calmer (with less current) near its banks. With the air temperature soaring into the triple digits, plenty of folks were splashing and playing in the river, even though the water at Willow Beach remains about 54°F year round. There are no roped off or designated swimming areas, nor are there lifeguards, in this section of the National Recreation Area, so caution is well advised.

Looking towards the fishing pier. Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery is in the background.

By the way, Willow Beach, with it’s million dollar views,  is maybe 3 miles off the highway. It’s totally worth the detour.  I felt like a winner before I even stepped foot in Sin City!


Posted in Beaches of North America, Friday Finds, Inland Shores | Tagged: , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Wet & Wild, Wild West!

Posted by Jody on June 20, 2012

On the way to Cattail Cove State Park, Arizona (Photo: Alaina Diehl)

Heading south on AZ 95 from Lake Havasu City, it’s an easy hop between three gorgeous Arizona State Parks.  All three have lovely beaches; one rests on the shores of Lake Havasu, and two are nestled along the banks of the Colorado River. Each one has amazing scenery and access to cool waters along the sandy riverside.

Beach at Cattail Cove State Park, Arizona (Photo: Alaina Diehl)

Cattail Cove State Park is a quiet, out of the way campers’ sanctuary.  Although Cattail Cove feels more like a river beach than a lakeside respite, it is located on Lake Havasu (north of Parker Dam), fifteen miles south of Lake Havasu City. There is a very nice swimming beach available and at the time of our visit, the park ranger told us that a new load of fine beach sand was being brought in within the week. Hiking, boating and Sea-Dooing are all quite popular at Cattail Cove. The surrounding area is also very well known for its rock hounding.

River Island State Park, Arizona

Beach at River Island State Park, Arizona

River Island State Park is about 11 miles down the road from Cattail Cove. There is plenty of welcoming shade at River Island and a  narrow, sandy river beach.  Visitors to this beach can boat, swim, hike, and camp, but in the 100+ degree temps of a mid-June day, the most exertion Alaina and I saw was folks resting on the beach under a shade canopy with their feet dipped in the cool river water. Having a small watercraft parked nearby seems a must for really stylish lounging! I’m beginning to wonder – does everyone on the river own a jet ski?

Beach at River Island State Park, Arizona

Just one more very short hop down the road from River Island State Park, Alaina and I came across Buckskin Mountain State Park.  It’s only a little more than a mile between them!  Buckskin Mountain is the larger of the two (practically) side-by-side recreation areas, with similar activities and plenty of day use potential. The large campground, multiple cabana sites, and playground make this state park very family and group friendly.  There’s even a camp store and restaurant on site. But, of course, our main goal was scoping out the beach!  Buckskin Mountain has a lovely little swimming beach. And, once again, the river bank was was lined with shade-seeking feet soakers! Seriously, I’m guessing they were just conserving energy for their next turn on the Sea-Doo.

Buckskin Mountain State Park, Arizona (Photo: Alaina Diehl

Buckskin Mountain State Park, Arizona (Photo: Alaina Diehl)

If you plan to visit any of these beaches, don’t forget to pack your binoculars. Out here in the Wet & Wild,Wild West we have some pretty interesting beachside critters. All three of these Arizona State Parks offer the perfect setting for wildlife viewing.  Bobcats, ringtail cats, coyote, gray fox, racoons, rabbits and an occasional bighorn sheep can be spotted in the area. You might even spot snakes (Red Racers and King Snakes) and desert iguanas.  Birds of the area include egrets, turkey vultures, great horned owls and red-tailed hawks. The Colorado River is also a flyway for migratory birds, making this a very popular area for bird watching.

There we have it. We’ve just added three more beautiful, Colorado River beaches to our Colorado River Beach Week collection.  Happy travels!

“A river seems a magic thing. A magic, moving, living part of the very earth itself.”

~ Laura Gilpin, American Photographer

Posted in Beach and Coastal Wildlife, Beach Birding, Beaches of North America, Inland Shores | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Experience the Beaches of Arizona’s West Coast: Lake Havasu City

Posted by Jody on June 19, 2012

No kidding!  Lake Havasu is known as Arizona’s West Coast. The lake is actually a large reservoir formed by the placement of Parker Dam on the Colorado River. On the border between California and Arizona, Lake Havasu City rests on the lake’s eastern shore.

London Bridge, Lake Havasu City, Arizona

Lake Havasu City has many wonderful beaches, beginning with Lake Havasu State Park, which has a great location on the lake. It’s a fee area, just right for campers and boaters, but we decided to focus on the two biggest fee-free beaches today.  Both are very lovely and conveniently accessible from tourist central. It’s not easy to choose between London Bridge Beach and Rotary Park, but lucky for us, it is easy enough to visit both in one day! These two sandy beaches rest on the shores of Thompson Bay, and they’re right across the cool, calm, sparkling clean water from each other.

London Bridge Beach, Lake Havasu City, Arizona

London Bridge Beach is located just over the transplanted iconic London Bridge, on McCulloch Blvd. Swimmers, sunbathers, paddle boarders and people watchers all enjoy this beautiful sandy beach and park.  The views are amazing, and folks here are as friendly as they come.

London Bridge Beach on Beautiful Lake Havasu, Arizona

London Bridge Beach has play areas for the kiddies and plenty of shade for family picnics. A large grassy area to run and play and a fenced dog park for the furry members of the family are all available right here. Paved walkways along the waterfront give locals and tourists, alike, the opportunity to meander along the Bridgewater Channel and enjoy the welcome shade of the trees. Boaters, canoeists, kayakers, Sea-Doo enthusiasts and standup paddle boarders all come and go from the man-made waterway.

London Bridge Beach

If you drive back across London Bridge and park in one of the large (free) lots, you can walk to Rotary Park, the biggest public lakefront park and beach that Lake Havasu City has to offer.  This 40-acre gem has lots of amenities for the entire family. There are shaded playgrounds, picnic tables, beach volleyball courts and a lovely treed walking path. At the far south end, there’s even a skate park and a specified area for radio-controlled float model airplanes and boats. Kayaks can be launched from alongside the designated swim area. In fact, quite a few kayakers were already returning the morning we were there.

Rotary Park, Lake Havasu City, Arizona

Rotary Park, Lake Havasu City, Arizona

Clean restrooms are plentiful at the beaches on both sides of Thompson Bay.  It’s important to note, though, that no beaches in Lake Havasu City have life guards.  For safety’s sake, you’ll want to read and pay attention to all posted signs.

Rotary Park looking across to London Bridge Beach

Walkway along the Bridgewater Channel

Even if  you are driving through the hot, dusty, arid desert of the American Southwest, you can still enjoy a wonderful day at the beach. ~I know we did!

How cool is that?


Posted in Beaches of North America, Inland Shores, Tallies & Tips | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Desert Surprise! Bullhead City Community Park (Arizona)

Posted by Jody on December 30, 2011

A beach might not be something one would expect to find while driving through The Grand Canyon State.  However, if you are a beach lover tooling along in the Arizona desert (or, for that matter, the far-south Nevada desert) and passing near Bullhead City, Arizona, you may want to take a detour into town.  Bullhead City has wonderful riverside community parks with beach access! Located in the northwestern corner of Arizona, Bullhead City is situated along the eastern shoreline of  the Colorado River. Across the river lies Laughlin, Nevada.

Looking Downriver, Bullhead City Community Park, Arizona (©Jody Diehl)

Bullhead City Community Park can be found along the Colorado River, on the west side of Highway 95 on the northern end of Bullhead City. We recently visited Bullhead City Community Park on a chilly, overcast November day.  It was very easy to imagine this pleasant little beach park as the perfect place for an afternoon break  on a sunny, 110° summer day, but it was also the perfect place to stop for a winter afternoon picnic.

For some people, Bullhead City, Arizona or Laughlin, Nevada might be a destination, but even if you’re headed between “here and there” and happen to be passing through, Bullhead City Community Park‘s beach is a fun diversion. Don’t forget to pack your swim suit!

Looking Upriver, Bullhead City Community Park, Arizona (©Jody Diehl)

Posted in Beaches of North America, Friday Finds, Inland Shores | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

South Arizona Telephone Cove, Lake Mohave, Arizona (Lake Mead National Recreation Area)

Posted by Jody on December 2, 2011

Shhhhhhh. We have a really great secret that we are going to share with you.  The Lake Mead National Recreation Area doesn’t tell you on their website or in their general park information that there is an awesome swimming beach near the Katherine Landing entrance station. The National Recreation Area’s park newspaper only lists Boulder Beach on Lake Mead (northwest of Hoover Dam) and Cottonwood Cove on Lake Mohave (east of Searchlight, Nevada) as designated swimming beach areas.  But, have we got a super Friday Find for you!

We stumbled upon an awesome surprise beach while on a roundabout drive home to Albuquerque from Las Vegas, Nevada. Heading into the Lake Mead National Recreation Area (NRA) at the Katherine Landing entrance station in Arizona, we had no idea what we’d find.  Passing by the Arizona Telephone Cove sign, we started our “explore” at Princess Cove, the farthest mapped point of interest from the park entrance.  Doubling back to Cabinsite Point and then on to North Arizona Telephone Cove we certainly found the many boat launches and plenty of scenic, shaded picnic areas set aside for park visitors. There was something that caught our eye, though. In the distance, the vague outline of a white, sandy-looking crescent was visible from our North Telephone Cove vantage point.  What exactly were we seeing, we wondered?

South Telephone Cove, Lake Mead NRA, Arizona (©Jody Diehl)

When we reached South Arizona Telephone Cove we couldn’t believe our good fortune! We found ourselves at the end of a dirt road, approaching a paved parking lot. We had found an absolutely gorgeous beach in a truly beautiful setting, complete with a roped off swimming area. “South Telephone Cove” has plenty of sandy shoreline, clear placid water, amazing Arizona desert views, and solitude.

View from the Beach, South Telephone Cove, Lake Mead NRA, Arizona (©Jody Diehl)

The sand along South Telephone Cove‘s shoreline ranges from sugar white (closer to the dunes) to pebbly areas perfect for beach rockhounding.  *You will want to wear your beach trekkers to protect your feet from the sharper pieces of rock.* It will be hard to decide whether to look down for the beautifully colored stones,  look up at the gorgeous scenery, or just look across the serene water for boats crossing beyond the cove.

What will you find beach rockhounding at South Telephone Cove, Arizona? (©Jody Diehl)

This area comes complete with shaded picnic tables and restrooms.  No lifeguards are on duty here, so be sure to follow the posted safety advice.

We cannot wait to head back to South Arizona Telephone Cove on a warm, sunny day! Even on a cool, overcast afternoon we had an absolutely splendid time at the beach.

This Way to the Beach!

Take the scenic route and enjoy the ride!

Posted in Beaches of North America, Friday Finds, Inland Shores | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

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