Lyman Lake State Park: The Complete Guide

man Fishing in Lyman Lake

 Arizona State Parks and Trails

Map card placeholder graphic

Lyman Lake State Park

Address
11 US-180, St Johns, AZ 85936, USA
Phone +1 928-337-4441

A favorite with anglers, Lyman Lake State Park sits about halfway between the communities of St. Johns and Eagar, not far from the Arizona-New Mexico border. When it is at maximum capacity, the lake—which was created by the damming of the Little Colorado River—stretches across 1,500 acres and draws watersport enthusiasts for boating, waterskiing, kayaking, and more. At lower levels, Lyman Lake remains popular with hikers and cyclists.

Summer is the most popular time to visit although temperatures remain pleasant well into the fall. During the spring, lake levels rise due to snowmelt from Mount Baldy and Escudilla Mountain, but it usually takes until at least mid-May for the waters to be warm enough for swimming. Just be sure to wear shoes into the water at the swimming area since the shore may be rocky in spots.

Best Hikes & Trails

Lyman Lake State Park has five trails. Pointe, Buffalo, and Peninsula Petroglyph trails are all located near the campground and day-use areas while Ultimate Petroglyph Trail can only be reached by boat. The trail to Rattlesnake Point Pueblo is currently off-limits.

  • Peninsula Petroglyph Trail: This 0.25-mile trail with a slight climb begins at the campground and passes several petroglyphs. Interpretive signs provide information about what you’re seeing along the way; however, you can also download a guide for the trek. You can link to the loop trails at the top and base of the hill here for an additional 0.5 miles of trail.
  • Buffalo Trail: Located where a herd of bison once grazed near the park’s entrance, this trail cuts approximately 2 miles to the main campground. Steep inclines and steps make it inaccessible for people with limited mobility and necessitate some physical stamina.
  • Pointe Trail: A mile-long trail beginning north of the day-use area, this trail connects two loops: one at the top of a hill and the other at its base. Enjoy views of the lake and watch boats launching from the ramps below. This trail has moderate inclines and steps.

Fishing

Lyman Lake is one of the few places in Arizona where you can fish for walleye. Unfortunately, due to elevated mercury levels, both the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and the Arizona Game & Fish Department discourage anglers from actually eating any walleye caught in the lake. In addition to walleye, Lyman Lake stocks largemouth bass, channel catfish, and carp.

You will need a fishing license to cast a line at Lyman Lake. It costs $37 for a resident fishing license and $55 for non-resident fishing license. Kids under 10 years old fish for free. Before you arrive, you can purchase a license online at the Arizona Game and Fish website. Licenses are also available at Lyman Lake Market within the park.

Waterskiing Lyman Lake
 Arizona State Parks and Trails

Boating and Other Water Sports

Fishing enthusiasts can use crankbait (lures designed to mimic the appearance and movements of smaller fish or insects) and worms. If you are fishing for walleye, the park recommends using a rattling crankbait that will help them more easily find the bait in the lake’s cloudy water. Walleye continue to eat after dark, so don’t automatically give up after the sun sets.

Unlike many lakes in the area, Lyman Lake has no restrictions on boat or motor size. You can waterski and wakeboard behind a powerboat or move peacefully across the water in a sailboat, kayak, or canoe. However, stick to the center and northwest end of the lake if you leave a wake and note that some areas are off-limits to larger boats so anglers can fish undisturbed.

The park has two paved boat ramps just north of Lyman Lake Market. The north boat ramp has a double-wide lane, allowing more than one boat to launch; the east boat ramp can only accommodate one at a time. You can launch canoes, kayaks, other non-motorized watercraft, and jet skis at either boat ramp or from shore.

Where to Camp

Lake Lyman State Park has its own campground and eight cabins. You can make reservations for these online at the park’s website or by calling the Arizona State Parks Reservations Desk at 1-877-MY PARKS (697-2757).

Campground: Arizona State Parks manages 56 individual campsites at Lyman Lake plus a group campground. Of those individual campsites, 38 are hookup sites with no maximum RV length, and 18 are non-hookup sites. The campground has three restrooms, one with showers. Fire rings, grills, and picnic tables are available, too.

Cabins: The park has eight cabins. Although each has a view of the lake, Antelope, Buffalo, Cougar, and Coyote cabins are on the shoreline and share their own bathroom. The remaining cabins—Deer, Elk, Fox, and Raccoon—are interspersed throughout the campground. All feature electricity, heat, air-conditioning, a table or bar counter, chairs, and bunkbeds.

Cabin Lyman Lake
 Arizona State Parks and Trails

Where to Stay

The nearest communities are Eagar and Springerville to the south of the park and St. Johns to the north. Because they are so small, your options are very limited. For a good selection of hotels, you’ll have to travel to Pinetop-Lakeside, roughly an hour and 20 minutes west of the park.

  • Best Western Sunrise Inn: Located in Eagar, this hotel gets high marks for what it is: a clean, pet-friendly place to overnight with free breakfast. Rooms here are more spacious than at other hotels in the area.
  • Rode Inn: This Springerville hotel has everything you need for a pleasant overnight, including free Wi-Fi and a coffeemaker. In the morning, enjoy the simple complimentary breakfast before hitting the lake. At the end of the day, take advantage of the on-site laundry facilities to clean up before you head home.
  • Americas Best Value Inn: This budget hotel about a half-hour from the park in Springerville offers a decent bed for the price. Perfect for a quick overnight before heading to the lake the next morning, but don’t expect much in the way of amenities.

How to Get There

From Phoenix, take Loop 202 (State Route 202) East to North Country Club (SR 87) and turn left. Continue for 73.5 miles to Payson. Turn right on SR 260 and drive 53 miles to SR 277. Turn left then continue for another 28 miles to US 180 and turn right. Immediately turn left on SR 61 / US 180. In St. Johns, turn right on US 191 South. Lyman State Park is 12 miles further on the left. 

Or, you can take US 60 East through Globe and Miami 80 miles. Turn left just outside Miami to stay on US 60. Continue through Show Low for 90 miles to US 180 / US 191. Turn left and head north. The state park entrance is approximately 14 miles down the road on the right. Either route is roughly a four-hour drive.

If you are coming from I-40, take Exit 339 south toward St. Johns. Drive 53 miles to St. Johns, and continue another 12 miles to Lyman Lake State Park. Turn left at the park’s entrance.

Cycling on the road
 Arizona State Parks and Trails

Accessibility

Depending on the activities you want to participate in, Lyman Lake has limited accessibility. Wheelchairs can navigate Lyman Lake Market, which also serves as the park’s visitor center, without much issue. Campsites, cabins, restrooms, and showers are all accessible as are the boat launches.

However, the trails are not accessible at this time, and wheelchairs may have difficulty getting close enough to the water to fish from the shore.

Tips for Your Trip

  • Admission is $7 per vehicle for up to four adults. The park is open 24 hours a day, every day.
  • The park’s visitor center is located inside Lyman Lake Market. Its hours of operation vary depending on the season.
  • Lyman Lake Market sells hunting and fishing licenses in addition to groceries, bait, and tackle.
  • Swimming is permitted in the designated swimming area only since water temperature’s drop to near zero in the lake’s center.
  • There is no lifeguard on duty. Swim at your own risk.
  • Leashed pets are permitted in the state park, including the campground. Pets are also allowed in the cabins with a $10 non-refundable fee. 
Was this page helpful?
Back to Article

Lyman Lake State Park: The Complete Guide