Enjoy The Slower Pace Of Tonto Basin

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Roosevelt Lake is one of the state's favorite water playgrounds.

Located 35 miles south of Payson, the lake is popular among anglers who turn out in droves to try their luck at catching crappie, channel and flathead catfish and largemouth and smallmouth bass. Roosevelt also attracts outdoor enthusiasts eager for a turn at water skiing, boating, swimming, jet skiing and windsurfing.

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About 35 miles south of Payson, water recreationalists will find all they're looking for in the waters of Roosevelt Lake. The bright blue bridge spanning the lake can be seen for miles.

At high water, the lake has more than 19,000 surface acres with 112 miles of shoreline measuring 25 miles long and two miles wide.

The lake is 349 feet deep at the dam and contains up to 543 billion gallons of water when full.

Due to the state's drought, the lake level had plunged to about 20 percent in recent years. Increased rain and snow last fall and winter has the water level now on the rise.

Camping facilities abound near the lake. Among the most popular developed campgrounds are Indian Point, Cholla, Windy Hill, Grapevine Group and School House.

Most developed campgrounds feature drinking water, showers, trash bins and playgrounds. Much of the year, volunteer campground hosts are on hand to ensure visitors enjoy a safe stay.

Shoreline facilities include portable toilets and trash containers with parking and boat launching.

Several recreational vehicle parks in the area offer sites with full hookups. The privately owned Roosevelt Lake Resort has lodging, food, boat storage, fuel facilities and a marina.

A great place for information is the 10,000-square-foot Roosevelt Lake Visitor's Center located 1 1/2 miles east of the dam. The friendly staff will provide plenty of hints for camping, fishing, boating, hiking, mountain biking, emergency services and Forest Service roads. A visit is not complete without spending a few minutes on the patio which provides stunning views of the lake. The center is open 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. seven days a week.

In nearby Tonto Basin and Punkin Center, dump stations, restaurants, boat storage and gas stations can be found.

Anglers hoping for a few helpful fishing tips will want to stop by the Tackle Box, located directly across the street from the Tonto Basin Chamber of Commerce on Highway 188. There, fisherman can purchase a complete supply of equipment, and chat with professional anglers and licensed guides Clifford Pirch and Mark Kile.

"We're always glad to help out anyway we can," Pirch said.

Also near the lake is the Tonto National Monument operated by the National Park Service. The monument has self-guided tours of prehistoric Salado culture cliff dwellings, interpretive exhibits and a bookstore.

For more information about the Roosevelt Lake recreational area, call (928) 467-320, or the Tonto Basin Ranger District at (928) 467-3200.

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