Prescott, Arizona. Located just west of smack-dab-in-the-middle of Arizona. Elevation: 5500 feet. Environment: High desert. Surrounded by 3 national forests: Prescott National Forest, Kaibab National Forest and Coconino National Forest. Less than 2 hours from Flagstaff, Sedona and Phoenix.
Willow Lake and Watson Lake are two conjoining reservoirs that were dammed in the early 1900s. In 1997, the city of Prescott bought the land around the reservoirs and preserved it as recreational land. The rocky landscape of the Granite Dells provided the perfect location to contain these two reservoirs.
No matter what your preferred outdoor activity, the Dells have something to beckon you with. Fishing? Check. Boating and Kayaking? Check. Trails weave through the rocky canyons and circumnavigate both reservoirs; most allow bikers, hikers and horseback riders. And don’t let me forget all you rock climbers, these granite slabs are just perfect for scrambling, bouldering and single-pitch climbs!
The wildlife here is extensive – especially the birds! Not only are the lakes home to nesting Great Blue Herons and Cormorants, but the cutest bird of all, IMO, the Gambel’s Quail, run rampant here. You’ll see all kinds of small songbirds, Towhees, Jays, Raptors and waterfowl in this diverse ecosystem. Not to mention the Javelinas, Deer, Mountain Lion, and other small mammals that call this place home. Check out the Quail Cam, showing just a few of the birds that live here.
This is a must-see spectacle of geologic formation and top-notch outdoor recreation.
Insider’s tip: There is also a world-renowned granite wall on the west side of Granite Mountain, also located in Prescott. For all you climbers out there, check this one out. But keep in mind, it’s only open between July and January because it is a regular nesting location for Peregrine Falcons, the fastest animal on the planet (they top out at 240 miles per hour!).