Taking a narrated ride along Saguaro Lake, located inside the Tonto National Forest just outside of Mesa, is the perfect summer activity when it is just too hot to do any other outdoor activity in the Phoenix area. Brutal 100+ degree daytime summer temps can make any outdoor activity miserable, even downright dangerous. So what do you do in Phoenix when you want to enjoy summer activities, yet you do not want to suffer heat exhaustion?
One great idea is to take a comfortable air conditioned ride along Saguaro Lake on the Desert Belle cruise. Taking this fun tour allows you to take in a bit of the gorgeous Sonoran Desert scenery without overexerting yourself in the harsh Phoenix summer heat. However, during the winter months, you must get out there and explore the many wonderful hiking and biking trails found throughout the Phoenix area (Usery and Camelback Mountain and McDowell Sonoran Preserve are all fantastic options). It just isn’t the same viewing these majestic cactus by boats. Nevertheless, during the summertime, a scenic boat ride is your best bet.
The Desert Belle is a 2 level boat, consisting of an air conditioned lower deck and a breezy covered upper deck. Surprisingly, even in 105 degree weather, it is pleasantly comfortable on the upper deck. The covered seating really goes a long way in keeping any sun away. As soon as you start moving, the breeze is quite pleasant. An on-site snack bar and drinks are available for purchase during your ride. In addition, a waterfront restaurant called the LakeShore Restaurant offers great food and a full menu if you are looking for a filling meal either before or after your cruise.
Both daytime and sunset cruises are offered. The daytime cruise gives you a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the outdoors despite the intense summer heat, while the sunset cruise gives you more opportunities to seek out wildlife and occasionally enjoy live music (check evening schedules on the Desert Belle website).
Saguaro Lake is part of the beautiful Tonto National Forest, located just 20 minutes or so from the Mesa area. It’s not more than an hour or so from any of the Phoenix suburbs, and therefore, is easy to incorporate into any vacation. Saguaro Lake was formed by the Stewart Mountain Dam, which was built in 1930, making in the last reservoir built on the Salt River. The name was chosen due to the high number of Saguaro Cactus that you will see along the shores. The contrast of the lake with the gorgeous rock formations and unique desert plants is truly spectacular.