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With 21,500 acres at full pond and 128 miles of shoreline, Roosevelt Lake is the largest body of water contained entirely within Arizona; the larger Lakes Powell, Mead, and Mojave cross Arizona's borders with other states. Roosevelt Lake is impounded by the Roosevelt Dam - the world's tallest dam early in the 20th century.
Little commercial activity surrounds Lake Roosevelt; recreation is its reason to be. Located two hours northeast of Phoenix by car, Roosevelt Lake is a welcoming destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Camping, fishing, boating (including water-skiing and jet skiing), swimming, hiking, climbing, hunting, picnicking, photography, and the mountain and desert scenery share most visitors' to-do lists. Winter months bring migratory birds; eagles and osprey are most visitors' favorites.
The junction of Tonto Creek and the Salt River were the center of construction of Roosevelt Dam in 1903. Some major floods slowed construction progress. Roosevelt Dam was completed in 1911, providing water storage for the Salt River Project, flood control for the Salt River Valley, and hydropower generation. The dam contributed more to the settlement of central Arizona than any other dam in the state.
At their completion in 1911, both the dam and the resulting reservoir were dedicated by Theodore Roosevelt, and named in his honor. At construction completion, Roosevelt Dam was the largest masonry dam in the world, and impounded the world's largest artificial reservoir. A dam improvement project in 1996 increased Roosevelt Lake's water storage capacity by 20% by raising Roosevelt Dam's height to 357 feet.
Many visitors bring their own boats to Roosevelt Lake. Launch sites include Indian Point, Roosevelt Marina, Cholla Recreation Site, Windy Hill, Grapevine and Schoolhouse. Roosevelt Marina, under contract to Tonto National Forest, provides boat rentals and fishing/camping supplies to its visitors. Rental boats range from 16-foot fishing skiffs to 24-foot deck boats.
Fishing is a popular Roosevelt Lake activity. There are many secluded coves and inlets that beckon angling enthusiasts. Game fish include crappie in the springtime, flathead and channel catfish, sunfish, and smallmouth and largemouth bass.
Camping is popular for anglers and for other outdoor enthusiasts. 700 developed camp sites include tables, fire rings with grills, shade ramadas, toilets and showers. Most are near boat ramps. Five undeveloped day-use fee sites include trash receptacles, portable toilets, and shoreline boat launching. Some small isolated islands and coves provide great opportunities for camping and relaxing in the unique Sonoran Desert environment. Geocachers can typically find more than a dozen caches within 10 miles of Lake Roosevelt.
Roosevelt Lake delights visitors looking for peace and quiet - with the added benefits of superb stargazing, desert scenery, and communing with nature. It offers some of Arizona's best water-based recreation.
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