Tommy J. DeBardeleben

Lake Pleasant Regional Park

Fast Flight Facts

Target Species:  Desert and waterbirds throughout the year

Elevation: 1600'

Habitat:  Desert reservoir with surrounding desert mountains

Overall Birding Rating: 3

Difficulty: 1 (Easy)

Birding Type: Get out and Scan, Easy Hiking

Facilities:  Parking, restrooms, campgrounds, visitor center, restaurant, marina and boat rentals

Fees/Ownership:  $6.00 entrance fee /Maricopa County Parks and Recreation

Closest Town or City/How far from Phoenix:  Anthem /31 miles north-northwest of Phoenix

Getting there:  Reached from Castle Hot Springs Road, which heads north off of Highway 74

Overview:  In the central and north part of Maricopa County lies the large Lake Pleasant, which can be productive for different waterbirds and desert birdlife throughout the year.  The southernmost part of the lake is in Maricopa County, leaving the rest of the expanse north into Yavapai County.  However, Lake Pleasant Regional Park is completely at the southern stretch of the lake and completely in Maricopa County.  It offers good views of the large bodies of open water, and also has several coves.  With such a large body of open water, birders can expect aquatic birdlife throughout the year, where an unexpected rarity may also very well visit Lake Pleasant. 

Gulls seem to favor Lake Pleasant regularly during the year, in which large numbers may be present.  Scoping the waters is very necessary.  Waterfowl, grebes, loons, cormorants and pelicans should also be expected.  Raptors to keep an eye out for include Ospreys and Bald Eagles, especially in the winter seasons.  There are also nesting pairs of Bald Eagles around the lake, which the nesting areas are closed to the public.  Besides water birds, the usual desert birds may be observed here.  Some of the coves and washes that have willows may provide good habitat for any migrants passing through the area.

Birding Tip:  If looking for waterbirds, simply bring a scope and stop at various overlooks and viewpoints, scanning the waters.  Hiking along the different trails and desert habitat and washes will produce the common desert species.  Lake Pleasant is owned by the Maricopa County Parks and Recreation, which is a six dollar fee daily per vehicle, so come prepared with the six dollars.

Directions:  From the 1-17 (Black Canyon Freeway), take the Highway 74 (W. Carefree Highway, also known as Lake Pleasant Road, and Morristown New River Hwy) west for 11.5 miles to the turnoff to Lake Pleasant Regional Park, which is N. Castle Hot Springs Road.  Take this road a few miles north to the entrance of the park.  If on the U.S. 60 Highway (Grand Avenue), Highway 74 may be accessed from that freeway route as well.  Head east for 19 miles on Highway 74 from the U.S. 60 for that choice of route. 


Lake Pleasant Regional Park Maps

Lake Pleasant eBird Data


Scenes and sights from Lake Pleasant Regional Park....


Birdlife of Lake Pleasant Regional Park..

Franklin's Gull


Back to Area 10-Northwest Maricopa

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