Carefree Outdoor Activities
Located in the heart of Tonto National Forest, Bartlett Lake is fed by the pristine waters of the Verde River which Indians of this valley spoke descriptively in their legends of the river’s “sweet waters”. Located just 20 miles east of Carefree, visitors can drive to Bartlett Lake for a variety of recreational opportunities, including shoreline camping in Arizona’s natural desert terrain. Visitors may catch a glimpse of diverse wildlife from mule deer, bald eagles, javelina, coyotes, as well as many indigenous desert plants, including the majestic saguaro, mesquite trees and blooming ocotillo.
Tonto National Forest campground improvements, handicap accessibility, and safety features provide for safe, enjoyable recreation including hiking, boating, water skiing and fishing. Boat rentals are available on the lake for those who don’t have their own boats.
Horseshoe Lake, also known as Horseshoe Reservoir, is located inside the Tonto National Forest and one of the most remote lakes in the area. The lake features quiet recreation opportunities, ideal for anglers looking for a quiet lake and is one of the best fish nurseries in Arizona. A 4-wheel drive vehicle is recommended. Horseshoe Lake feeds its water to Bartlett lake just below it to the south.
One of the most scenic water recreation areas in the “Valley of the Sun,” this northwest valley park is a recreationist’s dream. Lake Pleasant offers many activities, such as camping, boating, fishing, swimming, hiking, picnicking, and wildlife viewing.
Local Golf Courses
Carefree is adjacent to over 20 golf courses in the area and attracts professional players from all over the world!
Club Terravita Golf Course
The natural Sonoran Desert setting and manicured course at Club Terravita celebrates golf. The 18-hole course features 7,186 yards of golf from the longest tees for a par of 72. The course rating is 74.4 and it has a slope rating of 139 on Bermuda grass. Designed by Billy Casper and Greg H. Nash, the Club Terravita Golf Course opened in 1994.
DC Ranch Golf Course
DC Ranch is a wonderful private course at the base of the McDowell Mountains located in Scottsdale, Arizona. Spectacular views frame all 18 holes making the course one of the most prime locations in the entire valley. The Country Club at DC Ranch was designed for all levels of golfers and designed by Tom Lehman and John Fought.
Desert Forest Golf Club
Desert Forest is a private, member-owned golf club located in Carefree, Arizona. The 18-hole course features 7,011 yards of golf from the longest tees for a par of 72 . The course rating is 73.8 and it has a slope rating of 149 on Bermuda grass. Designed by Red Lawrence, ASGCA, the Desert Forest golf course opened in 1962.
Desert Mountain Golf Course
Situated on 8,000 acres in the high Sonoran Desert, this golf course is tucked into the rolling hills and dramatic scenery of north Scottsdale, Arizona. Desert Mountain is among the finest private golf and recreational communities in the world and is ranked among the top 10 in the nation. It is the only private community worldwide with six Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Courses, each one designed to offer an individual playing experience at all skill levels.
Dove Valley Golf Course
Following the lead of the ancient Hohokam people from a millennium ago, who opted for a peaceful existence below Black Mountain, Dove Valley Ranch Golf Club allows golfers a comparable opportunity to get away from it all. Designed by renowned architect Robert Trent Jones II, this championship course gently shifts between openness to the lush foliage along Willow Wash.
Grayhawk Golf Club
Grayhawk offers two courses, the Raptor and the Talon. The Raptor course is generally considered to be one of the finest daily-fee golf courses in Arizona and is listed among the “Best Public Golf Courses in Arizona” by Golf Magazine. Stretching 7,135 yards from the back tees, the par-72 course unfolds over the gentle hills and across shaded natural washes typical of this picturesque corner of the Sonoran Desert. The 6,973-yard Talon course is one of the highest rated daily-fee golf courses in Arizona, and is included on Golf Magazine’s prestigious list of the “Top 100 You Can Play in the U.S., and designed by former U.S. Open and PGA Champion David Graham and architect Gary Panks.
Rancho Manana Golf Course
Rancho Manana Golf Course, located in the heart of the Sonoran Desert in historic Cave Creek, Arizona, features a Scottsdale area par 70, championship course with dramatic elevation changes and unspoiled desert terrain. The Club’s amenities include an 18-hole, championship golf course, a full length driving range, practice chipping and putting greens, fully stocked golf shop, locker rooms and a full service restaurant.
Tatum Ranch Golf Course
The 18 hole, 6,856-yard, par 72 layout challenges players with a unique desert landscape and a variety of shotmaking opportunities. The course is graced by the natural beauty of the surrounding high Sonoran Desert and designed by renowned course architect Robert Cupp with dramatic views, rolling fairways, numerous bunkers and large, undulating greens provide an unforgettable golf experience.
The Boulders offers two courses, their North and South golf courses.
The 18-hole North course features 6,291 yards of golf from the longest tees for a par of 72 . The course rating is 73.1 and it has a slope rating of 142 on Bermuda grass. Designed by Jay Morrish, ASGCA, the North golf course opened in 1985. The 18-hole South course features 6,073 yards of golf from the longest tees for a par of 71. The course rating is 72.0 and it has a slope rating of 140 on Bermuda grass. The South golf course opened in 1991.
Troon Golf Course
Troon Golf Club features the Monument and Pinnacle courses that gracefully wrap around the northern slopes of Pinnacle Peak with majestic granite boulders strewn across the rugged landscape of the Sonoran Desert. Recent course renovations by original designer and British Open Champion Tom Weiskopf have created two new layouts that bring his original concept back to life. Golfers in search of the classic desert golf experience are returning to Troon North Golf Club to enjoy Weiskopf’s true vision.
The Sonoran Desert has some of the most scenic hiking in the state and should be a part of any visitors itinerary!
Cave Creek Regional Park
This beautiful Maricopa County’s Regional Park is 2,922-acres and sits in the upper Sonoran Desert ranging in elevation from 2,000 feet to 3,060. Park hours are Sunday – Thursday: 6:00 a.m – 8:00 p.m., Friday – Saturday: 6:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m., 365 days a year.
Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area
The newest addition to Maricopa County’s Regional Parks System, the conservation area encompasses 2,154 acres of diverse, rugged upper Sonoran Desert and contains fascinating archaeology sites and lush riparian areas along Cave Creek, which flows throughout the winter months. In the spring, this area is a must see for all wildflower lovers in the spring. Park hours are Sunday – Thursday: 6:00 a.m – 8:00 p.m., Friday – Saturday: 6:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m., 365 days a year.
Palo Verde Trail 512, Bartlett Lake
This trail winds through rocky outcrops and crosses several ridges and hill slopes offering scenic views of Bartlett Reservoir. Bartlett Reservoir has been popular with anglers almost since the dam was constructed in 1939. Open January – December. Tonto daily pass is required for parking: $6.00 per vehicle, per day.