Table Mesa Road and the Agua Fria River. If you’re looking for an out-of-the-way water adventure, there’s a great spot off Table Mesa Road, with access to the Agua Fria River! We spent about three hours enjoying the refreshing water of the river.
It should be noted from the beginning that this area is within the boundaries of Lake Pleasant Regional Park, and requires a fee to park and access. However, you are miles north of Lake Pleasant itself. The Agua Fria River does flow into Lake Pleasant, and it is possible to paddleboard or kayak to the lake. This blog post just focuses on accessing the river for water play. The area is also called the Agua Fria Conservation Area.
This is also the same river that we explored off the Black Canyon City Trail, and Badger Springs Trail. As of April 2021, there is water to play in at Badger Springs! This is likely because the area is spring-fed almost year-round. The Agua Fria river itself is seasonal.
Back to this area off Table Mesa Road!
It was actually a small adventure to even find water in the beginning. Usually, from the parking lot, you can walk just under 0.3 miles to the river and play, with numerous shade trees! However, due to low amounts of rain in 2021, we had to walk about half a mile to find water. The river itself was bone dry so what we found to play in was technically water from Lake Pleasant.
We started by crossing the huge rocks and making our way down the sandy path along the river. Watch for roaming cattle here, and of course, keep an eye/ear out for rattlesnakes. Within half a mile we came across two metal fences and hopped over those to access the water. However, one did not have a toddler-friendly river access option, and the second was covered in cattle poop.
So we backtracked a bit and found a wide grassy spot with little cattle poop. This spot (marked with a yellow heart on the map), is where we recommend water play! It might be identifiable by following the dry wash on your left, down to the river.
The water was a little chilly in mid-April but the kids quickly adjusted. Have fun exploring! We noticed there are a few dips in the river bottom, so bring floaties for little ones and always watch the kids. The deepest river portion we found in that area was almost 3 feet. The scenery was beautiful, and we were the only ones out there on a weekday morning.
To compare, this water was a bit dirtier than Bartlett Lake. It was about the same as Lake Pleasant, which was to be expected since it was basically the lake and not a flowing river!
From the I-17, north of Anthem, take Table Mesa Road west (exit 236). The road shortly turns into a gravel and dirt road, with some washboard portions, but our mini-van made it fine. The road continues to the boundary of Lake Pleasant Regional Park, about 3.5 miles. You will pass a casual shooting range/area on the left, and Boulder Creek Ranch.
At the park boundary, there is a little self-pay station on the right with envelopes. Cash only is accepted, $7/vehicle. Keep the stub on the envelope to display in your window dash. The camp host may also greet you at the parking lot. There is a port-a-potty and dumpster in the parking lot and no other amenities. GPS location for the parking lot is 33°58’46.6″N 112°11’29.8″W More information can be found here.