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Bartlett Dam and Bartlett Lake

Bartlett Dam was the first dam built on the Verde River. It also forms Bartlett Lake, an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise set in the heart of the Tonto National Forest.

Taming the Verde River since 1939

Bartlett Dam was the first dam built on the Verde River. Construction was funded 80% by SRP and 20% by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and it was built by the Bureau of Reclamation. The purpose of the dam was to provide flood control and a reservoir of irrigation water for residents of the Salt River Valley and the Salt River Indian Reservation. 

Bartlett’s design was completed in the spring of 1936. A contract was awarded to begin building, but with one catch – the dam had to be done in 1,000 days, or by May 9, 1939.

The Verde River was so unpredictable that two floods almost threatened the dam’s construction. Nevertheless, Bartlett was completed on time in May of 1939 and under budget (by $270,000, to be exact).  

Bartlett Dam became the fifth dam in the Salt River Project and the third dam built by the Bureau of Reclamation. (Roosevelt and Granite Reef Diversion dams are the other two.)

All in all, Bartlett Dam stands 308.5 feet high and 800 feet long – the highest multiple-arch dam in the world at the time. It was named after Bill Bartlett, a government surveyor who is credited with discovering the dam site while surveying the Verde River.

The dam still serves its same purpose today. It also forms the beautiful Bartlett Lake.

Things to do at Bartlett Lake

A hidden oasis less than one hour from downtown Phoenix, Bartlett Lake offers a variety of recreational opportunities.

Boating

Bartlett Lake has a boatable surface area of 2,815 acres. That's more than Saguaro Lake and Canyon Lake combined. 

Learn more
Hiking

Keep an eye out for mule deer, bald eagles, javelina, coyotes and many indigenous desert plants, including the majestic saguaro, mesquite trees and blooming ocotillo.

See the trails
Camping

You can camp directly on the shoreline for a taste of two worlds – gently sloping beaches and spectacular vistas of mountains.

See permit info
Water sports

Stand-up paddle boards, kayaks and water scooters, as well as a variety of boats, are all available for rent.

Find rentals
Swimming

Find a place to take a dip. (There are several!) Make sure to check water levels, as they affect water quality.

Check water levels
Fishing

Bartlett Lake has been a favorite with anglers since Bartlett Dam was constructed. Here you can hook bass, bluegill, crappie and catfish.

See the fishing forecast

Enjoy Bartlett Lake responsibly

Plan a safe and fun day on the water at Bartlett Lake with help from these resources.

Official Arizona Boating Safety Course Online

Take the course
Watercraft Rules & Regulations

See the rules
Renew Your Watercraft Registration Online

Renew online