February 2018 – One of the most enjoyable ways to experience the beauty of the Sonoran Desert in Arizona is to take a boat ride on one of the lakes around Phoenix. Years ago we rode on the Desert Belle on Saguaro Lake and absolutely loved it. This past week we took a ride on the Dolly Steamboat on Canyon Lake.
While we were camped in our RV on Canyon Lake, our new puppy Buddy loved going down on the beach, especially during our early morning photo sessions. He liked to show us how fast he could zip between the legs of our tripods.
When he wasn’t busy doing that, he was sprinting across the lakeside lawn carrying his favorite pink rope toy.
Late one afternoon while he was down on the beach playing with the waves, he noticed an inflatable boat that had been pulled up on the beach. Hmmmm… a boat ride might be pretty fun!
While we were out walking the next morning I was busy snapping pics of our shadows on the ground when we looked up and noticed the Dolly Steamboat moored at the dock.
The Dolly Steamboat was patiently waiting to take her first group of passengers out for a nature tour on Canyon Lake.
A steamboat ride definitely seemed like it would be a lot of fun to do together.
Canyon Lake is a beautiful big, blue lake in the middle of the desert, and we had been getting lots of photos of it from the shore as we drove up and down the Apache Trail. But seeing a lake from the shore isn’t the same as seeing it from the water.
We talked about doing a boat ride on the Dolly Steamboat over dinner.
And Buddy slept on the idea too.
He slept right through the enormous rising full moon!
He’s a very quiet little pooch, but he does know how to express himself and let us know what he wants.
The next day we went to stand in line at the Dolly Steamboat dock. A group of kids in front of us eagerly waited for Dolly to come in from her last excursion.
Finally, she appeared, and we made our way down the dock and onto the boat.
Captain Jason was very friendly.
Seen from our truck window on the Apache Trail (Route 88), Canyon Lake doesn’t look all that big. But to our surprise, we traveled three miles into the hinterlands, winding our way through fabulous rock canyons that were studded with saguaro cactus.
There is seating out on deck, and we found a seat at a table to take in the view.
While we marveled at the scenery, Buddy enjoyed the new smells.
We were startled at how rugged and dramatic the rock canyons were. As music by Enya played softly over the loudspeaker, we floated past exquisite desert landscapes.
The Captain was hoping to spot some big horn sheep, which are a fairly common sighting on this tour, but the herd was somewhere else that afternoon.
It didn’t matter, though, the scenery was so stunning.
The Dolly Steamboat has indoor seating down below, as well as snacks and goodies for sale.
But Buddy’s favorite spot was a place in the shade up on deck where he got a dog’s eye view.
Finally, after about an hour and a half of gliding through the desert on glassy water, it was time to head back in to shore.
If you are traveling through the eastern side of Phoenix, Arizona, and have an afternoon or evening to spare, take a ride on the Dolly Steamboat. They have starlit dinner cruises too!
Note: The Apache Trail (Route 88 from Apache Junction to the Roosevelt Dam) is one of the most famous and popular scenic drives in central Arizona. It is full of hairpin turns and sweeping views, and there are serious drop-offs too! If taking your rig, scout with your tow vehicle or toad first. As of February 2018, the 18 mile paved portion is under construction for it’s entire length, and the winter traffic is significant, so allow plenty of time for delays — or wait until next year!
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More info about boat rides and camping near Canyon Lake, Ariziona:
- Dolly Steamboat – Several rides a day
- Desert Belle – Another wonderful boat ride on nearby Saguaro Lake
- Canyon Lake Marina and Campground – Beachfront camping on Canyon Lake
- Tortilla Flat – Lovely nearby USFS campground for small to mid-size rigs
- Locations of Dolly Steamboat, Canyonlake Campground and Apache Junction – Interactive Google Maps
Other fun rides we’ve done:
- Waterton Shoreline Cruise – A Classy Tour of Waterton-Glacier NP 08/05/16
- Mt. Washington Cog Railway – The Little Engine That Could! 08/21/15
- Taking the Mail Boat Ferry to Maine’s Cranberry Islands 07/15/15
- Joseph Branch Railriders – What a ride! 07/19/14
Other blog posts from the east side of Phoenix (there’s a lot to see!):
- Lost Dutchman State Park Campground – Arizona Gold in the Superstitions 02/15/18
- Fall Colors and Wildlife on the Sonoran Desert Rivers in Arizona 12/22/17
- Peach Faced Lovebirds in Phoenix, AZ – Parrots in Cactus! 03/01/16
- ViewPoint RV & Golf Resort – RVer’s and Golfer’s Delight! 01/22/16
- Tonto National Monument AZ – Workamping with the Ancients! 01/07/16
- Monte Vista RV Resort in AZ – Arts, Crafts and Sports Fun! 12/30/15
- Tonto National Monument AZ – Lower Cliff Dwellings 12/16/15
- Copper Mines, NOT CAMPING, in Tonto National Forest – Why? 12/13/15
- Fall Color in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert near Roosevelt Lake 12/10/15
- Arizona’s Stunning Apache Trail Scenic Drive 02/09/15
- A Majestic Scenic Drive in Arizona – The Bush Highway 01/14/15
- Burrowing owls in Gilbert, Arizona – They’re a Hoot! 01/13/15
- Hunting Spring Wildflowers in Arizona 05/05/14
- Roosevelt Lake – Lakeside Camping in AZ 05/01/14
- Wild Horses of the Salt River in Phoenix 04/25/14
- Phoenix on the Wing – Waterbirds of Arizona! 03/27/14
- The Wind Cave Hike in Phoenix AZ – The Hills are Alive! 03/13/14
- Saguaro Lake – On the Waterfront in Phoenix 02/27/14
- Rivers of Phoenix – Oases in the Desert! 02/14/14
- Phoenix Sonoran Preserve – A City Escape 01/24/14
- Roosevelt Lake, AZ – Desert Oasis 04/15/09
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