Rainbow Lake Arizona

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  • By damming Walnut Creek in 1903, Mormon settlers created Rainbow Lake. Eventually, the settlement grew into the Town of Lakeside, now incorporated as the Town of Pinetop-Lakeside. Despite now being surrounded by homes, Rainbow Lake remains open to the public for fishing, boating, bird watching or just enjoying the outdoors.

    Rainbow Lake is 116 surface acres, and has a maximum depth of 14 feet and an average depth of 7 feet. Currently, the Department stocks catchable-sized rainbow trout in the spring and early summer. Naturally propagating warm water species include largemouth bass, channel catfish, black bullhead, bluegill and green sunfish. The lake also contains illegally introduced northern pike. Because it is shallow and weedy, Rainbow Lake is subject to water quality problems.

    Because so much shoreline is privately owned, Rainbow Lake is best fished from a boat. The spring and early summer are the best times to fish for trout because that’s when water quality is at its best, the weeds are down and the Department is stocking fish. Troll for trout with Panther Martin and Rooster Tail spinners, small Kastmasters or wooly bugger flies. You may also have some luck fishing from shore with worms or Power Bait. Casting near structure with spinner baits works well for largemouth bass and northern pike. Fish on the bottom with night crawlers or stink baits to catch black bullheads and channel catfish.

    On the Game and Fish parcel, there’s a boat ramp for public use, a barrier-free fishing pier and paved parking, but no restrooms. Additional amenities, in the form of boat rentals, are available from Rainbow’s End Resort, a private business adjacent to the public access area. Cabin rentals are available at Lazy Oaks, where guests can use one of two private fishing piers or rent a boat. - Arizona Game and Fish
  • GPS:
    Latitude: 34° 09' 44.0"N Longitude: 109° 58' 9.89"W
    Road Conditions:
    Land Ownership:
    Privately owned. The Arizona Game and Fish department does own a small parcel for public use including a barrier-free fishing pier and paved parking
    Max Surface Acres:
    River Lake Impounds:
    Walnut Creek
    Average Depth:
    6 feet
    Bag Limit:
    Statewide fishing regulations apply and a trout stamp is required.
    Boat/Engine Restrictions:
    Electric Trolling motors or a 10 horse max gas motor
    Boats to Rent:
    Seasonal. Small fishing boats and pontoon boats are available to rent at Rainbow Lake End Resort
    Lakeside campground has been reported to be closed, but the lake is right in town with lots of local amenities, including lodging. The nearest camping is located at Scott Reservoir or Show Low Lake.
    Barrier free Access:
    Barrier free fishing pier accessible on the Game and Fish parcel.
    Launching Area:
    Yes a paved launching area on the west end
    Water Skiing:
    Cleaning Stations:
  • Rainbow Lake is located near the heart of Lakeside at 6,760 feet. The land surrounding the lake is privately owned and inaccessible to the public; however, the Department owns a small parcel of land adjacent to the dam, and maintains it for public fishing and recreational boating. To reach this parcel, turn south on Rainbow Lake Road or Lakeview Lane from Highway 260. - Arizona Game and Fish

Recent User Reports and Reviews

  1. HookedAZ
    May 19, 2017
    Fishing is excellent for stocked (12”+) rainbow trout and bass! Lake was stocked last week. Lake is full and spilling still! Try your luck for largemouth bass with lures or try hanging a worm in the rocks for green sunfish or the bottom for bullhead or catfish! I’ve heard reports of catfish, bullhead, rainbow trout and pike being caught off the dam. The White Mountain Bass Fishing club recently adopted the lake and cleaned up trash along the public shoreline. Please don’t leave your trash around, and feel free to help out and pick up trash you see!
  2. Jeff k
    Mar 9, 2017
    Fishing is fair. Lake is full and spilling no ice. We are doing northern pike removals, so beware of gill nets during the day. We have caught some bass, many 17 inch catfish, lots of northern pike and even one 16 inch rainbow trout! Northern pike are congregating to spawn to shallow weedy coves. Try your luck, they are a tasty fish!

User Comments

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  1. HookedAZ
    The Arizona Game and Fish Department is looking for a volunteer group, organization or business to adopt Rainbow Lake in Lakeside. This popular local recreational area would greatly benefit from regular trash cleanup of the parking and dam areas.

    The parking area, dock and boat launch area are owned by the department for the purposes of maintaining public access to Rainbow Lake, which is mostly private and has limited access for the general public.

    Late spring and summer are the busiest times at Rainbow Lake. During this time, the lake will likely need to be cleaned up twice a month, and once a month during the less busy fall and winter months. The Pinetop Regional office will provide trash bags and trash collection equipment.

    Interested groups should contact Diane Tilton at the Pinetop Regional office at 928-532-3691 or at dtilton@azgfd.gov
  2. AGFD bio
    You need to change some info in the Lake Details. The Forest Service does NOT own or manage any part of Rainbow Lake. The shoreline and lake bottom are almost entirely privately owned, but the Game and Fish Department owns a small piece with a boat ramp, allowing public access to the lake.
    1. HookedAZ
      Updated. Thank you.
      HookedAZ, Jan 9, 2017
  3. AGFD bio
    The Lakeside Campground has recently been shut down and likely will not reopen. But the lake is right in town with lots of local amenities, including lodging. The nearest camping is located at Scott Reservoir or Show Low Lake.
    1. HookedAZ
      Thanks for the update. I've noted that in the camping information on the lake details.
      HookedAZ, Jan 9, 2017
  4. Chris Lomax
    there is lodging on Rainbow lake it is called Rainbows end resort look them up they also offer boat rentals for people that stay there
      HookedAZ likes this.
  5. HookedAZ
    Cool thanks Chris