Contrary to popular belief, boats are actually much safer than cars, which inexplicably sink every time you drive them on water. Take a proper water road ride with today’s Groupon: for $69, you get a morning half-day pontoon boat rental from Bartlett Lake Marina (a $190 value), located in Tonto National Forest, which is within one hour from most of metropolitan Phoenix. The half-day will take place from 8 a.m. to noon; riders can upgrade from a half day to a full day for $99 extra. In addition to paying for the fuel used during the boat rental, the person renting the boat must be at least 21 years old.
Calm, clear, and rife with beaches and resplendent views, Bartlett Lake offers a boatable surface area of 2,815 acres as well as a relaxing, cool cruise getaway from the stifling desert heat. Head to the marina to claim captainship of one of the 20-foot pontoon boats, which can house up to eight mateys. Relax on the floating vessel's cushy upholstered seat under the shade of the boat's awning as you slowly coast upon the ripples and soak in sights through sponge eyes. The water directly neighbors Tonto National Forest's gorgeous mountainous terrain, which may lead to cameos by mule deer, javelinas, bald eagles, wily coyotes, and wild Lou Ferrignos. Each boat provides ample storage space to stockpile shovels and buckets to build a sand-based Taj Mahal on the gently sloping beaches adorning the west side of the lake.
All safety gear and instructions are included in the boat, making it easy for everyone from first-time cruisers to full-time pirates to enjoy navigating the lake. The water's proximity to Tonto National Forest makes for a welcoming launching pad for a family camping trip. Call ahead or go online to make a reservation.
Subject to availability. Reservations require a $300 refundable deposit.
Though reviews are limited, five Yelpers give a perfect five-star average rating to Bartlett Lake Marina:
- My 3-yr-old had a ton of fun splashing around with daddy and other kids. Considering we're in the middle of the desert, this is a great little beach. – Julienne F.
- It's a bit of a trek but in the grand scheme of things we should realize how lucky we Phoenicians are to have this lake and others (Pleasant, Saguaro, Canyon) here in our desert back yard. – Jared M.
In the shadow of the mountains of Tonto National Forest, Bartlett Lake watercrafts skid across 2,815 acres of the lake's pristine waters. The marina abounds with recreational facilities—its fleet of professional jet skis, pontoons, and ski boats sit parked along docks of grills, a general store, and a covered, floating patio. A 45-foot yacht towers over the rest of the rental boats, furnishing lively parties of up to 25 people with a slide, bar, and restroom, while a large houseboat floats along the lake peacefully—an impressive vessel complete with private rooms, a deck, and kitchen. As visitors navigate the lake or forage the surrounding area's desert terrain trails, they have the opportunity to admire indigenous plants and abundant wildlife.