paddleboard among desert cacti in scottsdale arizona
paddleboard among desert cacti in scottsdale arizona

Imagine gliding through the crystal-clear waters as you paddleboard among majestic desert cacti in the heart of Scottsdale, Arizona. This unique experience offers a breathtaking blend of tranquility and adventure as you navigate the tranquil oasis, surrounded by towering saguaros and vibrant desert landscape. Whether you’re a seasoned paddleboarder or a curious beginner, this captivating journey will leave you in awe of the natural beauty and serenity that can be found in the midst of the arid desert. So grab your board and get ready to embark on an unforgettable paddleboarding adventure unlike any other.


Paddleboarding is a popular water activity that allows you to explore the beautiful landscapes and serene waters of Scottsdale, Arizona. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced paddleboarder, there are plenty of spots in Scottsdale that offer a unique and unforgettable experience. In this article, we will guide you through everything you need to know about paddleboarding in Scottsdale, including the best spots, gear and safety measures, and tips for a successful paddleboarding experience.


Paddleboarding in Scottsdale takes you on a journey through the breathtaking desert scenery, with towering cacti and stunning mountain vistas. As you glide across the calm waters on your paddleboard, you will have the opportunity to see an array of desert wildlife and vegetation that is unique to the area. Whether you choose to explore the McDowell Mountain Regional Park, Bartlett Lake, Salt River, or Saguaro Lake, each spot offers its own distinct beauty and charm.


Scottsdale, Arizona is located in the heart of the Sonoran Desert, just northeast of Phoenix. Known for its luxurious resorts, world-class golf courses, and vibrant arts scene, Scottsdale is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. The city is surrounded by stunning natural landscapes, making it an ideal location for outdoor activities such as paddleboarding.

Difficulty Level

Paddleboarding in Scottsdale can be enjoyed by individuals of all skill levels. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced paddleboarder, there are spots that cater to your ability level. The calm and gentle waters of the lakes and rivers in Scottsdale make it a suitable destination for beginners, while the more adventurous can explore the more challenging areas of the Salt River.


Before embarking on your paddleboarding adventure in Scottsdale, it is important to make a few necessary preparations to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

Choosing the Right Gear

The first step in preparing for paddleboarding is to choose the right gear. You will need a paddleboard, paddle, and a personal flotation device (PFD) for safety purposes. It is recommended to rent the gear if you do not own your own equipment, especially if you are new to paddleboarding.

Safety Measures

Safety should always be a top priority when engaging in any water activity. Make sure to wear your PFD at all times while paddleboarding, as it will help keep you afloat in case of an accident. It is also important to familiarize yourself with basic paddleboarding techniques and safety guidelines before heading out on the water.

Weather Considerations

Arizona is known for its hot and dry climate, so it is crucial to consider the weather conditions before planning your paddleboarding trip. It is best to avoid paddleboarding during the hottest part of the day to prevent dehydration and heat exhaustion. Check the weather forecast beforehand and plan your outing for the cooler morning or evening hours.

Getting There

There are two main ways to reach Scottsdale for your paddleboarding adventure: by car or by public transportation.

By Car

If you have access to a car, driving to Scottsdale is a convenient and efficient option. The city is easily accessible via major highways, and there are numerous parking facilities available near the paddleboarding spots.

By Public Transportation

For those who prefer not to drive, Scottsdale is also accessible by public transportation. The Valley Metro bus system offers routes to and from Scottsdale, making it easy to reach the paddleboarding locations. However, keep in mind that public transportation may have limited schedules, so it is important to plan your trip accordingly.

Where to Rent Paddleboards

If you do not own your own paddleboarding equipment, there are several options for renting paddleboards in Scottsdale.

Local Rental Shops

Scottsdale has a variety of local rental shops that offer paddleboards for rent. These rental shops typically have a range of paddleboard options to choose from, suited for different skill levels and preferences. The advantage of renting from a local shop is that you can receive personalized advice and assistance from knowledgeable staff.

Online Rentals

If you prefer the convenience of online shopping, there are also numerous websites that offer paddleboard rentals in Scottsdale. Online rental platforms provide a wide selection of paddleboards, allowing you to choose the one that best suits your needs. However, keep in mind that you may need to arrange for pick-up or delivery of the paddleboard.

Best Time to Paddleboard

To make the most of your paddleboarding experience in Scottsdale, it is important to consider the best time to go paddleboarding.

Seasonal Considerations

Scottsdale experiences hot summers and mild winters, so the best time to paddleboard is during the cooler months. From late fall to early spring, the temperatures are more comfortable, allowing you to enjoy your paddleboarding adventure without the scorching heat. However, if you do plan to paddleboard during the summer months, it is essential to take extra precautions to protect yourself from the intense sun and heat.

Time of Day

The time of day also plays a role in determining the best time to paddleboard. Early morning and late afternoon are generally the most pleasant times to paddleboard in Scottsdale, as the temperatures are cooler and the waters are calmer. This also provides an opportunity to witness the stunning desert sunrises and sunsets while out on the water.

Top Paddleboarding Spots

Scottsdale offers a variety of picturesque paddleboarding spots, each with its own unique charm and beauty. Here are some of the top paddleboarding spots in the area:

McDowell Mountain Regional Park

Located just east of Scottsdale, McDowell Mountain Regional Park is a stunning destination for paddleboarding. The calm waters of the park’s lake provide an ideal environment for paddleboarding, while the surrounding mountains offer a breathtaking backdrop. Keep an eye out for the diverse wildlife that calls the park home, including birds, reptiles, and mammals.

Bartlett Lake

Bartlett Lake is a popular destination for water activities, including paddleboarding. Surrounded by the Tonto National Forest, the lake offers stunning views and tranquil waters. Paddle along the shoreline and take in the spectacular desert scenery, or venture further out to explore hidden coves and secluded beaches.

Salt River

For those seeking a more adventurous paddleboarding experience, the Salt River is an excellent choice. The river features a mix of calm stretches and mild rapids, providing a thrilling yet manageable paddleboarding experience. As you paddle down the river, you will be surrounded by the rugged beauty of the Sonoran Desert, with towering saguaro cacti and majestic mountains.

Saguaro Lake

Situated along the Salt River, Saguaro Lake is known for its crystal-clear waters and striking desert surroundings. Paddleboarding on the lake offers a peaceful and serene experience, with the opportunity to spot a variety of wildlife, including bald eagles, herons, and wild horses. Explore the hidden coves and sandy beaches, or simply relax and enjoy the tranquility of the lake.

Wildlife and Natural Wonders

Paddleboarding in Scottsdale provides a unique opportunity to witness the diverse wildlife and natural wonders of the Sonoran Desert.

Cacti and Desert Vegetation

As you glide through the waters, you will be surrounded by the iconic saguaro cacti, which are native to the Sonoran Desert. These towering cacti can reach heights of up to 40 feet, creating a striking visual landscape. In addition to saguaros, you will also encounter a variety of other desert vegetation, such as prickly pear cacti, ocotillos, and mesquite trees.

Desert Wildlife

The Sonoran Desert is home to a wide range of wildlife, and paddleboarding allows you to observe these creatures in their natural habitat. Keep an eye out for water birds such as herons and ducks, as well as reptiles like turtles and lizards. If you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of larger mammals such as deer or javelinas.

Guided Paddleboard Tours

For those who prefer a guided paddleboarding experience, there are several options available in Scottsdale.

Benefits of Guided Tours

Guided paddleboard tours offer numerous benefits, especially for beginners or those unfamiliar with the area. Knowledgeable guides can provide instruction on paddleboarding techniques and safety, ensuring you have a safe and enjoyable experience. Additionally, guided tours often include interesting facts and information about the local flora, fauna, and history, enhancing your overall paddleboarding adventure.

Options and Costs

There are various guided paddleboard tours available in Scottsdale, each offering its own unique experience. Some tours focus on exploring specific locations, such as the Salt River or Bartlett Lake, while others may combine paddleboarding with other outdoor activities, such as hiking or wildlife spotting. The costs of these tours vary depending on the duration, included activities, and equipment provided, so it is best to research and compare options to find the tour that best suits your preferences and budget.

Tips for a Successful Paddleboarding Experience

To ensure a successful and enjoyable paddleboarding experience in Scottsdale, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:

Stay Hydrated

The desert heat can be intense, so it is crucial to stay hydrated throughout your paddleboarding adventure. Bring plenty of water with you and drink regularly to prevent dehydration. Additionally, consider using a hydration pack or bringing electrolyte-enhanced drinks to replenish lost fluids.

Protect Yourself from the Sun

The Arizona sun can be harsh, so it is essential to protect yourself from harmful UV rays. Wear sunscreen with a high SPF, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses to shield your skin and eyes from the sun. It is also advisable to wear lightweight, breathable clothing to protect against sunburn and heat exhaustion.

Bring a Waterproof Bag for Valuables

While paddleboarding, it is important to keep your valuables, such as phones and wallets, safe and dry. Invest in a waterproof bag or case to store your belongings and prevent them from getting damaged by water. This will give you peace of mind and allow you to fully enjoy your paddleboarding experience without worrying about your valuables.


Paddleboarding among the desert cacti in Scottsdale, Arizona offers a unique and unforgettable experience. From the serene waters of McDowell Mountain Regional Park to the thrilling rapids of the Salt River, Scottsdale has something to offer paddleboarders of all skill levels. As you glide across the tranquil waters, taking in the breathtaking desert scenery, you will have the opportunity to spot diverse wildlife and immerse yourself in the wonders of the Sonoran Desert. By following the tips and guidelines provided in this article, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable paddleboarding experience while preserving the natural beauty of this remarkable desert landscape. So grab your paddleboard, soak up the sun, and get ready to paddle among the desert cacti in Scottsdale, Arizona!

Previous articleSupflex 10′ Inflatable Stand Up Paddleboard Review
Next articleKayaking Kayak Local Waterways – A Beginner’s Guide
Jake Walker
Hi, I'm Jake Walker, a passionate outdoor sports enthusiast and SUP Board expert. With years of experience in the field, I have gained extensive knowledge and expertise in all things related to SUP Boards. I am dedicated to providing valuable tips and advice to help fellow enthusiasts make informed decisions when it comes to choosing the right SUP Board gear. Throughout my journey in the SUP Board community, I have been recognized for my contributions and have received several prizes and rewards for my expertise. These accolades have further motivated me to continue sharing my knowledge and helping others navigate the exciting world of SUP Boarding. I believe in the transformative power of outdoor sports and how they can enhance our connection with nature. My writing philosophy revolves around inspiring individuals to embark on their own SUP Board adventures and embrace the thrill of exploring new waters. When it comes to my writing style, I strive to inject a personal touch into every piece I create. I want my readers to feel like they're having a conversation with a friend, providing them with relatable and practical advice that they can apply to their own SUP Boarding experiences. I am excited to be a part of, where I can engage with a community of like-minded individuals who share the same passion for SUP Boarding. Connect with me on this platform, and together, let's explore the world of SUP Boarding and make unforgettable memories on the water. Don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or need assistance in choosing the perfect SUP Board gear for your next adventure. Let's embark on this incredible journey together!