Saturday Drive: Lynx & Watson Lakes in Central Arizona
Odometer (Legend): 532,587
Odometer (ILX): 113,171
Trip Distance: 226 Miles
I recently saw one of those “You know you’re from such-and-such place when…” lists. It talked about the joys of living in sunny Arizona — a place where the best parking spot is determined by shade, not by distance. One of the items on the list was “You no longer associate bridges or rivers with water.” That is pretty true! We have dozens of bridges that cross over dry riverbeds. Many times, the only times those rivers get wet is during our rainy “monsoon” season in late summer.
For some reason, it’s tough for people to believe that we do have our fair share of water here in the Grand Canyon state. Central Arizona has a couple of beautiful reservoirs that I’d been wanting to check out for some time now, and I thank my friends Peter and Jack for cluing me in on them.
The Prescott National Forest covers 1.25 million acres of land in north-central Arizona and is an easy getaway (< 2-hour drive) from the Phoenix area. The key draw is the climate, since temperatures can be up to 20 degrees cooler in the summertime than they are in Phoenix. I took off on a Saturday morning and headed north on I-17 to do a little exploration of my own. Traffic was on the heavy side until I broke away on Highway 69 toward the Prescott Valley area.
A few minutes from downtown Prescott, Lynx Lake is a hot spot for fishermen since it’s stocked regularly with rainbow trout by the Arizona Fish & Game Department. It covers 55 acres and was formed in 1952 when a dam was built on Lynx Creek downstream. I took a little one-lane road to a parking area along the south end of the lake. I didn’t linger longer than a few minutes for pictures. Oddly enough, when I sent a picture of my car to Peter, he responded within minutes by sending me a picture of his car parked in the exact same spot. Great minds think alike.
Just 7 miles away from Lynx lies an even larger body of water called Watson Lake that dates back to the early 1900s and covers 70 acres of area. I paid my $2 day-use entry fee using the automated machine at the entrance to Watson Lake Park, then cruised around to see what this place was all about. A group of 25 or more motorcyclists had overtaken one of the parking lots, so I continued driving around and found the entrance to a boat ramp. I figured – what the heck – and drove down the ramp. Unfortunately, parking was not allowed so I had to loop back to the visitor lot to leave the car there. That was fine since it was a perfect 70-degree day and I wanted get out of the car and hike around anyway.
Watson is surrounded by a variety of sandstone rock formations. Water conditions were calm and I watched a few people launch kayaks from the ramp. For being a Saturday, things were pretty calm and quiet, tourist-wise. I plopped down on a rock and just soaked in the scenery (and sunshine) for about 20 minutes. When the time came to exit the park, there was a lineup of a half-dozen cars waiting to pay at the gate and enter. I rolled down my window down and held out my parking pass. A woman in a black Honda Civic graciously took it from me when I offered it to her. Saved her $2!
I had just one more place to visit before my trip was complete. I’d recently learned of Jack Ass Acres in New River off I-17 just north of Phoenix, so I pulled off the interstate long enough to get this picture. Jack Ass was once a gas station, convenience store, and souvenir shop but it appears to have been abandoned for decades. The building’s roof is crudely lined in barbed wire and the paint it peeling from every panel. Still, it makes a fun pit stop!
It was a fun day experiencing some of Arizona’s beautiful scenery and I hope you’ll enjoy the rest of the pictures here.
Heading toward Prescott Valley on Highway 69
Quick stop in the historic town of Dewey-Humboldt
Lynx Lake entrance
Approaching the parking area at Lynx Lake
Access to Lynx is via this one-lane, pine tree-lined, loop
Photo-op at Lynx
The ILX parked momentarily on the boat ramp at Watson Lake
Driving back up the boat ramp at Watson to the parking lot
Unfortunately, no swimming allowed!
A kayaker sets sail
Back to the parking lot
Another area of the lake with a dock
Heading back home, northbound on Highway 89
That’s not confusing at all. Two highways named “89A”?
Jack Ass Acres as seen from New River Road
Jack Ass sign
Starting this Wednesday, I’ll be in a 2015 Acura TLX for a week to drive & review it. Where will I go? Wait & see!