Lakes of Arizona

Horsethief Basin Lake

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  • I the early 1930s, Phoenix, like the rest of the nation, was caught firmly in the grips of the Great Depression. People in the "Valley" area needed a nearby spot to rest, relax and forget their troubles.

    The city of Phoenix tried to help remedy the problem by working to create a park nearly 70 miles away. this wasn't an ordinary park though. It featured cabins, an independent water system and campgrounds. the Horsethief Basin recreation area was created by the Civilian Conservation Corps, a federally managed program during the depression designed to put people back to work.

    The entire park was created near the then-aging town of Crown King. Located in Prescott National Forest, north of Phoenix, it was close to the pines and offered views incredible enough to guarantee visitors even today.

    In the 1960s the recreation area was turned over to Prescott National Forest. The most eloquent statement on yesteryear's craftsmanship is the fact that everything is still functional, even the water system. there's even a tennis court.

    Horsethief Basin Lake was also created during the e'30s project. Today it covers a total of 3 surface acres at an average depth of 10 feet. Unfortunately, there's so much algae and other organic growth in the water that oxygen levels below ten feet are literally unlivable for most fish. Every so often, the lake's total oxygen level can reach a level low enough to suffer a kill-off. Vegetation covers nearly 80 percent of the shoreline, and consists mostly of cattails.

    To get to Horsethief Basin, take I-17 north out of Phoenix, and take the Bumble Bee/Crown King turnoff.. Take Forest Service Road 259A south to Forest Service Road 52. Go southeast about 6 miles to the lake. All of the Forest Service roads are dirt. The total trip is just over 40 miles from the north edge of Phoenix. -G.J. Sagi, from the essential travel handbook Fishing Arizona

    The lake hold the standard warm water fish you find in Arizona. Largemouth bass are the main attraction at Horsethief basin, its been know to produce in the 5 lb range on occasion. And of coarse you can find some catfish.

  • GPS:
    Latitude: 34° 09' 40.75"N Longitude:112° 17' 56.36"W
    Phone Numbers for more information::
    (928) 443-8000
    Restrictions/Season of Use:
    Open year round
    Road Conditions:
    Mostly dirt
    Land Ownership:
    Prescott National Forest
    Ranger Station/District:
    Prescott National Forest 344 So. Cortez St. Prescott, AZ 86303 (928) 443-8000
    The elevation at Horsethief Basin is 6000 feet
    Max Surface Acres:
    3 acres on average
    Average Depth:
    The average depth for Horsethief Basin is 10 ft
    Bag Limit:
    As Posted for bass and catfish
    Boat/Engine Restrictions:
    Electric Motors only
    Yes plenty of campgrounds for tents and trailers
    Launching Area:
    Water Skiing:
  • See above article for Directions to Horsethief Basin

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