A Pontoon Boat Adventure From Bartlett Lake Marina in Arizona’s Tonto National Forest
The drive to Bartlett Lake, all by itself, for many is reason enough to make the venture. But trust me, once you see this beautiful lake, you too will want to captain a water going vessel so that you can explore this beautiful place.
I must admit, I felt a little intimidated as I considered driving a pontoon boat around the lake. I didn’t have any experience doing such things, and a little voice in my head wondered how wise this decision might be.
Thankfully, the very friendly Bartlett Lake Marina staff gave us a thorough review of the boat, its operation, its safety gear, and equally important, an understanding of basic boating laws.
Armed with this information, and now feeling much more comfortable, we put the pontoon boat into reverse, and with our good friends Dave and Donna Otto (pictured above) proceeded out of the marina.
After leaving the marina, leaving no wake behind of course, we turned right and made the Bartlett Dam our first destination.
The Bartlett Dam was built in the late 1930’s, has created a lake which is 12 miles long, and at it deepest point is 174 feet deep. This reservoir is one of the water sources for the Greater Phoenix area, and contrary to the drought of the last decade, is now completely full from massive snow run-off from higher elevations.
As we began to motor our way around the lake, in the prescribed counter-clockwise fashion, the first thing that comes to your mind is the disconnect with being on a beautiful lake, and a mountainous, saguaro fulled shoreline.
After 90 minutes of awestruck wonder, we found ourselves a quiet little cove, and pulled in to enjoy the lunch that Carol had prepared. We enjoyed chicken salad on croissant, fresh California strawberries, crackers and cheese, fresh vegetables, but wouldn’t you know it, we forgot the cork screw, so we drank water from plastic bottles.
While we were enjoying our lunch, enjoying the quiet of the scene around us, which was only pierced by the songs of nearby birds, and the rhythmic lapping of gentle waves on the shore, we also found ourselves curiously looking through the binoculars for the lake’s resident eagles.
Just as we were about to take the last bites of our wonderful lunch, we heard this mysterious rumbling coming from behind the mountain that we were anchored near. We all looked at each other wondering what on earth that sound might be. But before any of us could get the question out of our mouths, a fighter jet, presumably from nearby Luke Air Force Base, thundered right over our heads.
Needless to say, this wasn’t in our paradigm, and I think we all had to quickly squeeze to keep from wetting ourselves a bit.
During our visit we enjoyed perhaps six of these jets, flying no more than 100 feet over the lake, noisily screaming by, making quick maneuvers as they jetted down the length of the lake. Because we were deep in the surrounding mountains, I was unable to get any photographs. It seemed as though they would only fly by when I put my camera down.
After all the excitement of the fighter jets, we pulled anchor and made our 90 minute journey back to the marina to complete what was a most serene, and wondrous adventure.
We will most certainly be back to do this again. Next time, we will come later in the season, after the water warms up a bit, bring our swimming suits, and make a whole day of it.
If you are visiting the Greater Phoenix area, or perhaps you live in the area, and have never boated on Bartlett Lake, words can’t express how beautiful this place is.
We can highly recommend this adventure, and were greatly pleased with our experience with the folks at Bartlett Lake Marina.