Horseshoe Lake Paddle

NOTE: The date has changed to April 7th.

4/5 Update:

Hi All,

I talked to the ranger today. As Ron said, the road is passable if you go slowly. He said that trucks and high-clearance cars would have not problem, but you might want to re-think taking the average passenger car. Post in the comments area if you are looking to carpool.

The ranger said that no Tonto Pass will be required, since most of the facilities will not be open. He did say that the restroom near the boat ramp is open.

See you there,

Bob W.

Hi All,

Ron The Canoe Guy was there a few days ago and said that the road from Bartlett Lake Road to Horseshoe (FR 205) is rough but passable. He said to plan on 10 miles per hour for the 9-11 miles of dirt road.

If you would like the latest road conditions in the Horseshoe area, call the Cave Creek district ranger office at (480) 595-3300.

Ron also told me that Horseshoe Lake has waived the Tonto Pass requirement for now. Again, call the ranger office to confirm that this is still the rule by the day of the event.

See you on the water,

Bob W.

This is a joint event with the Desert Mountain Paddlers MU group.

Horseshoe Lake aka Horseshoe Reservoir, hasn’t had this much water in it for several years. We will paddle the upstream towards the Rio Verde portion of the lake, until we run out of water. If we are lucky, the wildflowers will be in full bloom. Possible critters include great blue heron, deer, migratory ducks & geese, javelina, coyote, gray fox, bald eagle, osprey, bobcat and desert bighorn sheep.

This trip is for all skill level paddlers. Please keep in mind that this is Spring and the water will be cold. If you do happen to upset your boat and get wet, hypothermia is a possibility. Hypothermia can kill you. All paddlers are REQUIRED to wear life vest while on the water.

We will meet in the general area of the Ocotillo boat ramp before 10:00AM. Look for my green Dodge Dakota truck. Please arrive early to allow time for unloading and boat prep, as we will be on the water and gone by 10:15.

Distance will be 8-10 miles, depending on the group and water level. You are welcome to cut your paddle short at any time and return to the launch site, however, you must be accompanied by a buddy. Nobody paddles alone.

Dogs and children 11 and older who are experienced paddlers are welcome.

What to bring: sunscreen, camera, a life vest, hat, lunch, Tonto Pass and plenty of water.

Where are Tonto passes sold? >>

Horseshoe Reservoir is 23 miles east of Carefree. Take Cave Creek Road 4-5 miles. Turn right on Bartlett Dam Road and continue for 6-7 miles. Look for the Horseshoe sign, then turn left on FR 205. Continue on FR 205 (a dirt road) for 11-12 miles to the lake and boat ramp area. The dirt road to the lake can get nasty, but is usually fine for cars. I will have a tow strap in case anybody gets stuck.

Consult Google Maps for driving directions and drive times from your location. Go to:

and put in your location in box “A”. Click “Get Directions”.


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  • Marcos S.

    Great trip!

    April 8, 2013

  • michele d.

    Me and my clone have a change of plans, darn it!

    March 28, 2013

  • Theresa B

    Sorry to have to change my rsvp to a no, but I know my vehicle wont make the dirt road. I cant clear the cement barriers in front of parking spaces so I cant do a dirt road in poor condition.

    April 4, 2013

  • michele d.

    My clone will be with the DMP group. Lol

    March 26, 2013

  • Tomyal E.

    I am on the fence about if we will be able to join. I dropped a coffee cup on my foot a sliced it open. I will have to see how well it's healing by Sunday.

    April 1, 2013

  • Theresa B

    Hi, I have a small low clearance vehicle, does anyone want to car pool? I live in East Valley but could meet up anywhere bewteen here and there. I do have a roof rack that fits 2 kayaks.

    March 27, 2013

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