Lake Havasu State Park: The Complete Guide

Lake Havasu National Wildlife Refuge on the Colorado River in Mohave County, Arizona USA
Norm Lane / Getty Images
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Lake Havasu State Park

Address
699 London Bridge Rd, Lake Havasu City, AZ 86403, USA
Phone +1 877-697-2757

A haven for water sports enthusiasts, Lake Havasu is a 43-square-mile reservoir created by the damming of the Colorado River in 1936. It came to the attention of the Arizona State Parks Board as the site of a potential state park as early as 1957, but Lake Havasu State Park didn’t officially open to the public until 1967.

In the meantime, entrepreneur Robert McCulloch developed the community of Lake Havasu City near the water’s edge, and to generate interest, he brought the actual London Bridge, piece by piece, from England. Today, the infamous bridge connects the shore to Pittsburgh Point, and the city runs right up to the edge of the park, making it easy for visitors from Arizona and California to spend a day on the water and relax in a hotel that night.

Things to Do

Most park visitors come to boat, fish, and swim although jet skiing and water skiing are also popular. You can even scuba dive in Lake Havasu’s waters. Additionally, the lake is known for its world-class largemouth, smallmouth, and striped bass fishing.

Not fond of the water? On land, you can hike in the park or watch for wildlife such as birds and desert cottontail rabbits. Or, you can walk across the historic London Bridge, although technically it’s located just outside the park.

Whether on land or water, watch for the lighthouses along the lake's shore. Each of these 26 lighthouses are scaled-down replicas of famous ones found throughout the country.

London Bridge in Lake Havasu
travelview / Getty Images

Boating

Not surprisingly, boating is the most popular activity at Lake Havasu. The park has four boat ramps and the northernmost ramp is dedicated solely to personal watercraft (jet skis) and jet boats (no propeller boats allowed). Non-motorized watercraft such as kayaks can launch from the shoreline or any ramp where they can do so safely. Since the state border runs through the middle of Lake Havasu, boaters should be familiar with both Arizona and California boating regulations.

On summer weekends and holidays, the lake fills with boats, and Bridgewater Channel, a man-made, no-wake waterway under the London Bridge, becomes congested with partiers. It is especially bad during spring break when the college crowd descends on the lake. To avoid these crowds, head out further on the lake or boat during the week or in the cooler months.

If you don’t have a boat, you can rent one through the park's concessionaire, Wet Monkey Power Sports Boat Rentals.

Fishing

Known for its exceptional bass fishing, Lake Havasu is a frequent stop on the tournament circuit where anglers catch largemouth, smallmouth, and striped bass. It’s not uncommon to max out on bass or even catch a largemouth bass weighing more than 10 pounds. While you can catch largemouth and striped bass throughout the year, smallmouth bass tend to be more active during the winter. In addition to bass, anglers frequently hook bluegill and catfish.

You will need a license to fish Lake Havasu. Licenses cost $37 for residents and $55 for non-residents and can be purchased online before you go. Kids under the age of 10 do not need a fishing license.

Swimming

The park has a large, white sand beach located at the North Day Use Area between the parking lots 2 and 3, though you can swim anywhere along the shoreline except near boat ramps or docks. Beware that there are no lifeguards even at designated beach areas, and fires are not allowed on the beach.

In addition to shoreline swimming, you can swim in the waters near your anchored boat. Use extreme caution if you do, and be sure to fly a “swimmer flag” while people are in the water. 

Lake Havasu and lighthouse
Thomas Unger / Getty Images

Best Hikes & Trails

Lake Havasu State Park has just one designated trail, the Mohave Sunset Trail. However, you can also stroll through the park’s Arroyo-Camino Interpretive Garden or walk along the shoreline from the park all the way to London Bridge. Looking for more of a challenge? There are many hiking trails outside the park, including the Crack in the Mountain and Mockingbird Wash trails.

Mohave Sunset Trail: This easy trail winds through the lowland desert and along the shoreline for roughly 1.75 miles. While pets on leashes are allowed, bicycles and motorized vehicles are not.

Arroyo-Camino Interpretive Garden: The flat, gravel paths in this garden showcase the area’s diverse flora. Watch for wildlife, including birds, lizards, and desert cottontail rabbits.

Where to Camp

Campers can stay at the park’s campground or at Cattail Cove State Park, 18 miles south of Lake Havasu City. Lake Havasu State Park also has cabins with direct beach and water access.

Campground: The park’s campground has 54 campsites, all with 50-amp electrical hookups, a picnic table, and a fire ring. Choose from beachfront ($40 per night) or standard sites ($35 per night). Most sites can accommodate RVs, motorhomes, and tents, and most have shaded ramadas.

Cabins: The park has 13 furnished cabins with electricity, heating, and air-conditioning. You just provide the linens. Cabins cost $119 per night ($129 per night for holidays) but have private beach access for swimming and launching non-motorized and personal watercraft.

Cattail Cove State Park: Located on the Colorado River about 20 minutes from Lake Havasu State Park, Cattail Cove has 61 camping sites suitable for RV and tent camping. Fifty-seven sites offer 30-amp service while four have 50-amp service. The park also has primitive boat-in camping and a boat launch.

motor boat on Lake Havasu with rocky mountains in the backgound
 Teresa Bitler

Where to Stay

There’s no shortage of hotels in Lake Havasu City, and almost all of them cater to the state park’s visitors. You’ll experience a wide range of service levels from barebones motels to upscale chains and resorts.

  • London Bridge Resort: Within walking distance to some of the area’s most popular restaurants and shops, this 110-acre property is also adjacent to the London Bridge and features three swimming pools and a golf course. 
  • Heat Hotel: Steps away from the London Bridge, the Heat Hotel has a hip vibe. Each room has a private balcony, many overlooking the Bridgewater Channel. In the evening, check out the hotel’s patio bar and lounge or grab dinner and drinks at a nearby restaurant.
  • Holiday Inn Express & Suites: This 96-room chain hotel is located in the English Village, roughly across the channel from The Heat Hotel. Guests enjoy complimentary breakfast and views of the lake and mountains from rooms on the top floor.

How to Get There

From Phoenix, take I-10 nearly two hours to Quartzsite and exit at Riggles Avenue (Exit 19). Turn left one block later at Main Street, and continue to State Route 95. Head north an hour and a half to Lake Havasu City. (You will need to turn right to stay on SR 95 in Parker. Follow the signs.) Pass the London Bridge on your left, and turn left at Industrial Boulevard. Continue into the park.

From Southern California, take I-10 to Quartzsite and exit at SR 95. Follow it north into Lake Havasu City as described above. Or, head east on 1-10 to 1-15 North and drive to Barstow. Keep right at the fork and follow signs for 1-40 and Needles. At Needles, take Exit 9 for SR 95 south. Continue to Industrial Boulevard, and turn right into the park. Either way, the trip will take approximately five and a half hours.

back view of a speed boat and its wake on Lake Havasu
 Teresa Bitler

Accessibility

Since most activities take place on the water, accessibility depends on your watercraft. Restrooms and showers in the day-use areas and campgrounds are accessible. The cabins are also accessible. While the paths in the Arroyo-Camino Interpretive Garden are flat and easily navigable, the Mohave Sunset is sandy, especially near the shore.

Tips for Your Visit

  • The entrance fee for Lake Havasu State Park is $20 per vehicle with up to four adults Friday through Sunday and on holidays. Monday through Thursday, the fee drops to $15. Admission for those on bike or foot is $3 anytime.
  • Glass containers are not permitted on the beaches. Neither are pets. Elsewhere in the park, pets must be kept on a leash.
  • Campgrounds and cabins must be booked for a minimum of two nights on weekends during the summer and three nights for holiday weekend camping.
  • In the summer, the water near the shore is usually comfortably warm, but open water can be freezing. Wear a thermal swimsuit if you plan to ski or go tubing in case you fall in the water.
  • Every December, Lake Havasu hosts the Christmas Boat Parade of Lights showcasing more than 50 decorated boats. You can watch the festivities from the park’s shoreline.
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The Complete Guide to Lake Havasu State Park