November 28, 2017

Lake Havasu was created in 1938 after the completion of Parker Dam on the Colorado River through the federal Bureau of Reclamation. Parker Dam stands 320 feet tall and the majority of its concrete structure is submerged underwater. This feature makes it the deepest dam in the world. Hydroelectricity generation on-site powers towns across Arizona, Nevada and California. Additionally, the lake represents an important reservoir, as it provides drinking water that travels hundreds of miles through two major canal systems. They are the Colorado River Aqueduct that pumps water to Los Angeles, California and the Central Arizona Project that pumps water to multiple cities in Central and Southern Arizona.

Lake Havasu State Park

The name “Havasu” comes from the Mojave Indian word meaning “blue water.” The federal Bureau of Land Management protects and manages the lake and surrounding wilderness lands. The lake is a popular tourist attraction for outdoor recreation in the Southwest. Lake Havasu State Park explores the history and surrounding area of the lake. Guided tours provide an opportunity to learn more about the interesting ecology where the Mojave and lower Sonoran Deserts meet. Visitors can swim along beautiful shorelines with sandy beaches, hike along nature trails, camp overnight, and access boat ramps to explore the water. Lots of wildlife and plant species are also found here, but some invasive species like the quagga mussel have a detrimental effect on the natural population and in the canal systems. As a result, State park officials have set strict guidelines for boaters when visiting the lake to help manage the quagga mussel population.

Lake Havasu: Sunset over the water
Sunset over Lake Havasu. Photo by Holly M.

Lake Havasu City

Millions of people come to visit the lake every year, and many come to see the world famous London Bridge that once spanned the Thames River. Lake Havasu City is a popular family-friendly vacation destination that hosts a variety of festivals including the Havasu Balloon Festival and fair. Balloons, boats and a historic bridge define this Arizona Lake.

Hot air balloon over Lake Havasu. Photo by Michelle S.
A hot air balloon flies low over the lake, nearly touching the water. Photo by Michelle S.

Havasu National Wildlife Refuge

A short drive from Lake Havasu is the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is within the Pacific Flyway, a major north-south migratory route along the west coast. This makes it a favorite stopping place for hundreds of birds who come for rest and refueling in preparation for their long migratory journey. Additionally, some species choose to breed and spend the winter here. As such, the Havasu Refuge is an Important Bird Area in Arizona. But the refuge isn’t just for the birds. There are also plenty of activities for the visitors of the human kind. These include fishing, boating, kayaking, canoeing, wildlife viewing, and hunting.

Come visit this unique area of the state!

Are you looking for other unique and interesting destinations to explore in Arizona? Then be sure to check out our complete list of blogs on Celebrating AZ Water


Holly M. and Michelle S. submitted their photos, just two of over 1,000 submittals, for our Spring 2014 Celebrate AZ Water Photo Contest. It provided a stunning opportunity to celebrate the importance and wonder of water in Arizona and to reflect on one of our region’s most precious resources.