Granite Dells at Watson Lake near Prescott AZ – SPECTACULAR!

May 2023 – The Granite Dells at Watson Lake near Prescott, Arizona, are a spectacular moonscape of rounded granite boulders that beg to be climbed on and explored. These gorgeous rocks line the shore of the lake and pop up out of the water here and there, forming mini islands. The views from every vantage point are magnificent.

Watson Lake Granite Dells in Prescott Arizona


We have seen The Dells from a distance many times, catching brief glimpses of them as they appeared on the horizon for a split second while we drove to or from Prescott’s historic Courthouse Square.

This year, on an RV trip to nearby Lynx Lake, we had a chance to get a closer look at Watson Lake’s Granite Dells, and what a rewarding experience that turned out to be!

Granite Dells at Watson Lake near Prescott AZ

The Granite Dells are a magnificent moonscape of rounded boulders on the shores of Watson Lake.

Kayak at the Granite Dells at Watson Lake near Prescott AZ

The Dells are a fabulous place to explore on foot — or by boat!

We climbed and scrambled and followed the narrow hiking trails along the edges of Watson Lake. The trails dodged between the boulders and sometimes vanished to become just white dots painted on the rocks until the trail resumed on the other side of the boulders. It made for fun and easy route finding and gave each hike an amusing twist!

Hiking trail through the Granite Dells at Watson Lake near Prescott Arizona

The hiking trails were gravel in some places but became white dots painted on the rocks in others!

Storage ottoman bench for RV

Buddy was totally in his element and scampered over the rocks in sheer delight!

Climbing the boulders at the Granite Dells at Watson Lake near Prescott AZ

Buddy was in his element. We were too!

Hiking the boulders at the Granite Dells at Watson Lake near Prescott AZ

All smiles!

We made a point to go to Watson Lake at dusk on several afternoons, hoping to catch the Granite Dells in the beautiful soft golden light of late afternoon and then watch a stunning sunset. Mother Nature has its own agenda for sunsets, however!

The boulders seemed to glow as the last rays of sun hit the Dells.

The Dells at Watson Lake in Prescott Arizona

Golden glow.

Sunset at Watson Lake Granite Dells Prescott Arizona

What a place!

As I began setting up for a shot, I noticed my shadow on the rocks. How cool is that?!

Photography at the Granite Dells and Watson Lake Prescott Arizona

A ghostly figure under a full moon across from me was busy taking photos of the incredible landscape!

Watson Lake is very popular with kayakers, and we saw lots of them out on the water. As the sun began to sink low in the sky, the kayaks came in from all directions to return to the boat ramp.

Kayaking on Watson Lake between the Dells in Prescott Arizona

Exploring the hiking trails was great, but checking out the views from a kayak might be even better!

Kayaking past the Granite Dells at Watson Lake in Prescott Arizona

Kayaks returned to the boat ramp at the end of the day.

Kayak at Watson Lake Granite Dells in Prescott Arizona at dusk

A kayaker navigates the island Dells to return to shore after a nice ride.

Every direction we looked we saw a stunning view, and we wandered happily from one dazzling photo op to the next. Some of the trees were standing in the water. They looked quite peaceful and very much at home!

Granite Dells at Watson Lake near Prescott Arizona

Heavy rains this year raised the water level until the trees were immersed.

Granite Dells at Watson Lake in Prescott Arizona

The trees didn’t seem to mind this extra drink one bit.


When the sun slipped over the horizon, Mark caught a starburst between the tree branches. Just as he hit the shutter button, Buddy walked right into the picture! But we both love how it turned out.

Puppy at the Dells in Prescott Arizona Watson Lake

Buddy photo-bombed this photo at just the right moment.

Buddy then took a seat so as not to photo-bomb any more images, and he kept a close eye on us.

Puppy resting in the Granite Dells at Watson Lake near Prescott AZ

Buddy patiently waited and watched as we took endless photos.

One night, the sunset was more subdued than we would have wished, but the setting was so glorious it didn’t matter. Such beauty!

Watson Lake Dells near Prescott Arizona the Granite Dells

The Granite Dells at dusk.

Watson Lake Granite Dells near Prescott AZ


On another night, the brilliant colors in the sky we’d hoped for never appeared at all. But we were in seventh heaven anyway, crawling around on these rocks and savoring the gorgeous views.

The Granite Dells at Watson Lake near Prescott Arizona plus a puppy

I noticed this wonderful dead tree by the side of the trail and Buddy watched me as I got set up. Behind him, Mark was busy creating another beautiful composition.

Watson Lake Granite Dells near Prescott Arizona

Watson Lake and the Granite Dells are such a surprise in the high desert and pine forests of Prescott AZ.

Watson Lake Granite Dells in Prescott AZ


At last we got a sunset to remember. The sky and its reflections in the water went from bright orange to peachy pink to a rich pink and blue.

Granite Dells at Watson Lake Prescott AZ

Lots of people come out to Watson Lake to watch the sunset, and when the sky first lit up on fire, we heard a roar of cheers from somewhere high up in the rocks!

Sunset behind the Granite Dells at Watson Lake near Prescott Arizona

Then the sky turned peach and pink.

Granite Dells at Watson Lake near Prescott Arizona



And then it settled into a rich pink and blue. Ahhhh!

Granite Dells at Watson Lake Prescott AZ.jpg

“That was such a rush, I’ve gotta rest for a while!”

We will always remember that afternoon!

If you visit Prescott, Arizona, be sure to wander down to Watson Lake Park and explore the Granite Dells. There are lots of trails to choose from. We stayed close to the shore but the Dells fill a huge area that extends all the way from Watson Lake to neighboring Willow Lake a few miles away.

Watson Lake is popular with both locals and visitors, and you’ll have plenty of company to share the experience with. But everyone around you will be grinning from ear to ear and will be very happy to be there. It’s that kind of place!

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Location of The Dells – Google Maps

Other blog posts about the lakes near Prescott, Arizona:

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14 thoughts on “Granite Dells at Watson Lake near Prescott AZ – SPECTACULAR!

  1. What an amazing location! I have been to AZ at Quartzsite but never heard of this area. Another location I will have to visit! Because of you all I visited Wyoming! Cody Wyoming as a matter of fact.. What a GREAT city! It reminds me of where I grew up. I am from Elk Grove, CA and we had between about 7,000 and 12,000 people when I was growing up. I moved to NV and when I came back to Elk Grove it had like 200,000 people! Went from a farming community to a pretty big city in the span of about 10-15 years. Cody reminded me of the old Elk Grove. I am sure this place is just as good!

    • I’m so glad you had a chance to visit Wyoming, Gary. We just love that state, and Cody is a really fun cowboy town. Prescott is a wonderful old cowboy town too that’s well worth a visit. Like every place in Arizona, though, it is growing by leaps and bounds. From 2000 to 2020, Prescott’s population increased by almost 30% while nearby Prescott Valley’s population doubled. We did our trip mid-week, arriving Sunday afternoon and leaving Saturday morning. That made a huge difference, as the campground was full on both weekends but was less than half full while we were there. Enjoy the lovely lakes around Prescott when you get there!!

  2. The rock formations are intriguing and impressive, Emily, and your photos and Mark’s are gorgeous, as usual. I can see how exploring by kayak would be hugely appealing. I had to smile at your persistence with your sunset photos. You guys, of all people, know that nature has its own agenda and time table, and can’t be rushed or pressured. I imagine that, as photographers, patience is one of your most valuable assets.

    • We love trying to capture the beauty around us, Mary, and we know that Arizona can produce the most incredible sunsets. It’s just a matter of being in the right place at the right time! The “right place” wasn’t hard, but waiting for the “right time” did take some patience. We aren’t nearly as patient as the big time pro photographers, though! They’ll do astonishing things like wait for 48 hours for wolf cubs to emerge from a den or for condors to leave the nest. We don’t have that kind of patience at all!! However, Ansel Adams said, “Chance favors the prepared mind,” so we try to be as prepared as we can!!

  3. Emily,
    I have never been to “The Dells” or Watson Lake. However, two hours to the east of Prescott is (which I confess to have confused with) Payson. Not far to the east and north of Payson is an amazing geographic feature called the Mogollan Rim (pronounced muggy’ own). Sections of the “Rim Road” aka Forest Rd. 300 would be great to explore with your ATV or other ORV and I guarantee Buddy would enjoy it!

    “It is an elevated escarpment extending approximately 200 miles westward from the New Mexico border and defines the southwestern edge of the Colorado Plateau. It is an impressive landmark rising 3000 to 4000 above the land to the south. Fortunately the campground I had aimed for was closed, forcing me to scout for a “boondocking” … site which landed me exactly on the edge of this rim with only one other camper sharing 25 sites.”
    The above is an excerpt from my blog: There are a few photos.

    I will write to you privately with more details should this tempt you.

    • Thanks for the tip and the link to your blog, Stewart. We love the Mogollon Rim and have been many times over the years. We did a tent camping trip on the Rim Road years ago before we got an RV, and we pitched our tent right on the edge of the rim where we had an outstanding view of the valley below. A huge thunderstorm promptly blew in and gave us quite a light show and then gave us quite a drenching. We also visited the Mogollon Rim in our much more comfortable fifth wheel and wrote about the experience at this link here. The sides of the tent were pressed against our bodies. It was crazy and was a trip we’ll never forget! I’m so glad you enjoyed your time there.

  4. Gorgeous and enticing photos – as usual. Sad to think I lived in AZ for 2 years and never saw any of these picturesques sites. Thanks for sharing – love, Mom.

    • You saw a very different Arizona in the early 1950s, one that is very much hidden or gone today. Many of the roads and highways that take people from here to there these days were rough dirt roads back then, not necessarily conducive to casual Sunday drives. There wasn’t a direct paved highway from Phoenix to Prescott until 1956, and I-10 between Phoenix and Tucson wasn’t completed until 1960. Roads existed to get between these destinations, but they were circuitous, sometimes rough, and took a lot longer. So, it’s no surprise that some of the places we see so easily today were simply out of reach and not well known to many residents 75 years ago. I’m glad you can get a glimpse now via our website!

  5. Beautiful pics, Cousin! I’m sorry that we never had the chance or the time to see these sights in our brief 2 years in Arizona!

    • There’s just so much to see in Arizona, Pete! From vast deserts to big lakes, from wide valleys to tall mountains and from remote places far from civilization to one of the biggest cities in the country, there’s enough to keep a traveler happy for eons!!

  6. What a cool place. We’ve never been but like you have caught glimpses of it while driving. I love dead trees. They add so much to shots.

  7. Have you three (including Buddy!) been to Bishop, CA? You all have given me SO MANY places to go when I retire. Not to mention I had already been to a few places you all have been to, based on your blog! I recently boondocked in Bishop CA which is SW of Mammoth Mountain, another place I have been to that was gorgeous in the warmer months! I used hookups in Mammoth Lakes because I had to do laundry, but it was such a fun place to go with my mountain bike. Bishop had some good boondocking where you could just go out into the high desert and have the time of your life!

    • We’ve been through Bishop on our way to Mammoth Lakes, but we didn’t stop or stay there. I just re-read my log, and I mentioned being captivated by the picturesque mountain views on that drive. We loved that whole area and stayed for a few days. We were only 3 weeks into our full-timing adventure, so we were traveling very fast from place to place and didn’t stay there. We need to go back — it was beautiful, as you know! You can see what we posted about it at this link here.


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