Tommy J. DeBardeleben

Apache Lake

Fast Flight Facts

Target Species:  Regular and rare water birds, desert species

Elevation: 1900'

Habitat:  Long and narrow desert reservoir surrounded by cliffs and mountains

Overall Birding Rating: 3

Difficulty: 1-2 (Easy to Fairly Easy)

Birding Type: Easy to Moderate Hiking, Boating, Walking and Scanning

Facilities:  Parking, restrooms, restaurant and inn, marina with boat rentals, campground

Fees/Ownership:  Six dollar Tonto National Forest Fee

Closest Town or City/How far from Phoenix:  Apache Junction /48 miles east-northeast of Phoenix

Getting there:  Access from the Bush Highway to the turnoff to Saguaro Lake

Overview:  Apache Lake is the second reservoir on the Apache Trail that is created by the Salt River.  This is a very long and narrow lake and runs for over ten miles.  It is a beautiful lake and is surrounded by the scenery of canyons, cliffs, and desert hills.  Besides several access points to view this lake that are productive, most of this lake is very hard to cover due to it's length.  The access points that are available however give good birding opportunities.  One access point is the main turnoff to Apache Lake, which features a marina and even a nice resort.  Good views are given of the lake here.  There are places to stay here as well as boat rentals.  Several groves of trees are planted throughout the resort and marina area, which may bring in some interesting migrants or wintering birds.  Another good place to view Apache Lake comes from the Burnt Corral Recreation Area at the northeast side of the lake.  This recreation area features a campground under a nice mesquite bosque, which will provide good birding other than the views of the lake.  Despite access problems due to the lake's length, it still is a beautiful lake to visit and the areas that are accessible are likely to result in good birding and are worth visiting.

Birding Tip: The best birding approach to birding Apache Lake would be to rent a boat and search the long and narrow lake.  A good amount of birds may still be observed from the various recreation spots that lead to the lake, but a boat is the only way to accurately search this lake.  Bring a scope to scan the water.  Bird the surrounding desert and the big mesquite bosque which makes up Burnt Corral Campground. 

Directions:  The first turnoff to Apache Lake comes between mile markers 229 and 230, which is shortly past Fish Creek.  This turnoff leads to the main recreation area of the lake, where the marina, resort, and boat rentals are located.  There are several turnoffs to the lake other than the ones mentioned on this text.  Another good turnoff comes at the eastern section of the lake at mile marker 234.  This road goes to the Burnt Corral Recreation Area and campground, which is a very peaceful branch of the lake.


Apache Lake Maps

Apache Lake eBird Data


Scenes and Sights from Apache Lake:

Burnt Corral Recreation Area and Campground..


Back to Area 3-Apache Trail

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