By Boating Life Editors
There's a crooked desert road meandering northeast along the Salt River, from Mesa, Arizona, that turns to dirt at Tortilla Flats. It takes you past two smaller desert lakes called Saquaro and Apache, but if the weather is good and you're game enough to follow the trail another 45 miles, you'll find the real pot of gold at the end of the rainbow: Theodore Roosevelt Lake.
One November a few years ago, a bizarre cold front pushed snow all the way into Mesa and Phoenix, making the historical Apache raiding trail impassable. We went on pavement east through Globe and then north, an extra 75 miles. We came over a ridge and around the White Mountains, still dusted with snow. Below us in the ruddy-colored desert valley, Roosevelt glistened like a bowl of sapphires. Saguaro cactuses stood as sentinels along our route, and we pulled into the first national campsite that appealed to us. We had our choice; in November, Roosevelt Lake is all but deserted.
Near the west end of the lake, a flat, called Butcher Hook, held a couple of small motels along the shore, a grocery and a bar and grill. About midlake, Roosevelt Lake Marina offered full-service slippage, ramps, fuel and sundries. We slapped burgers on the grill and barbecued under a full moon that put a glow on snow-capped mountains, and listened to coyotes calling in the distance.
Overshadowed By: Lake Powell, Lake Pleasant
If You Must Know: Roosevelt Lake is noted for its clear water and population of enormous crappie.
Most Popular Boats: Fish and ski boats or trailerable cruisers make visiting this remote waterway lots of fun.
Shared with permission from Boating Life Magazine.