Lakes ~ Golf ~ Hiking

Carefree is central to many of the most scenic bodies of water in Arizona

Bartlett Lake

Located in the heart of Tonto National Forest, Bartlett Lake is fed by the pristine waters of the Verde River. Native Americans of this valley spoke descriptively in their legends of the river’s “sweet waters”. Just 20 miles east of Carefree, visitors enjoy a variety of recreational opportunities including shoreline camping in Arizona’s natural desert terrain; glimpses of the diverse wildlife from mule deer, bald eagles, javelina, coyotes; and viewing the many indigenous desert plants, including majestic saguaros, mesquite trees and blooming ocotillo.

Part of the Tonto National Forest, recent campground improvements, handicap accessibility and safety features provide for safe, enjoyable recreation including hiking, boating, water skiing and fishing. Boat rentals are available at the Bartlett Lake Marina.

Bartlett Lake

Horseshoe Reservoir

Horseshoe Reservoir (also known as Horseshoe Lake) is located inside the Tonto National Forest and one of the most remote lakes in the region. The lake is known for recreation opportunities and is ideal for anglers looking for a quiet lake with one of the best fish nurseries in Arizona. Four-wheel-drive vehicles are strongly recommended for travel in this area. Horseshoe Lake feeds its water to Bartlett Lake just below it to the south.

Lake Pleasant Regional Park

One of the most scenic water recreation areas in the Valley of the Sun, this northwest valley park is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream! Lake Pleasant offers a variety of activities such as camping, boating, fishing, swimming, hiking, wildlife-viewing and picnicking. Pleasant Harbor Marina offers boat and watersport rentals, as well as RV rental space.


Carefree is adjacent to more than 20 golf courses, and attracts amateur and professional golfers from throughout the world


Desert Forest Golf Club

In 1962, architect Robert “Red” Lawrence carved the course from existing desert landscape, and this environmentally “all natural” setting remains today the hallmark of the course, with desert characteristics proudly and beautifully displayed for the discerning eye to see and the dedicated golfer to appreciate. From virtually everywhere on the golf course, the Sonoran Desert vistas are breathtaking.

Desert Forest is passionate about the condition of its golf course, the talent of its staff and the experiences of its members. Amenities include a wide range of exceptional golf services; a delightful patio; a dining room and bar and some of the best views in the region.

The Boulders Club

The Boulders is world-renowned as one of the finest golf resorts in the western United States. The Boulders Golf Club is a semi-private country club for members, Boulders resort guests and daily fee players, featuring a 6,811-yard, par 72, championship North Course and a 6,726-yard, par 71 championship South Course, both designed by Jay Morrish.

Both courses are considered among the most demanding in the Southwest, and are known for their rugged beauty. Amenities include a golf pro shop, fitness center and restaurant.

Carefree Golf Course

Nearby Courses

Desert Mountain Golf

 Desert Mountain Golf Course

Offering members the world’s largest collection of private Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Courses, Desert Mountain defines unparalleled championship desert golf like no other.

Each course provides an individual playing experience at all skill levels. Dramatic elevation changes–from the 2,700-foot Renegade course to 3,400-foot Outlaw–rolling fairways, impeccable course conditions and far-reaching views of metro Phoenix-Scottsdale distinguish Desert Mountain’s 108 holes from other desert courses. Nowhere can you find a collection of courses that will keep players uniquely challenged in each round.

Dove Valley Ranch Golf Club

Ingeniously designed by renowned architect Robert Trent Jones Jr., this championship course gently shifts between panoramic openness to the intimacy of lush foliage along Willow Wash. Mirroring the southwestern styling of the petroglyph-etched boulders that mark each hole, the adjoining Club House with Pro Shop and snack bar offer a casual but elegant retreat.

Dove Valley Ranch Golf Club is a desert-style golf course with hints of tradition, such as ample fairways and subtly contoured greens with openings in front, featuring a low, rolling mix of holes of varying difficulty. The layout is very playable, but also strategic enough to test the course-management skills of every player.

Legend Trail Golf Club

When architect Rees Jones created the golf course at the Legend Trail Golf Club, he created a course that brings out the Old West-style air of Scottsdale and a fun and testing course with greens made of bent grass. Panoramas include local sites such as Pinnacle Peak and the McDowell Mountain range.

Legend Trail features broad fairways, diminutive bunkering and tees placed on islands, and has been called one of the Top 100 golf courses by Golf Magazine. The magazine also gives Legend Trail 4.5 stars out of five among its Best Places to Play and has one of the Top 100 Woman-Friendly fairways, according to Golf for Women magazine.

Mirabel Golf Club

This stunning Tom Fazio 7,147-yard, par-71 course is an exceptional example of the outstanding quality, craftsmanship and beauty that are the hallmarks of his global reputation. The designs create a unique golf experience for each player that is challenging, enjoyable, and memorable.

Mirabel Golf Club’s considerable amenities include tee boxes, fairways and greens that reveal a dramatic expanse of lush Sonoran Desert and majestic mountain vistas; a thoughtful design that includes generous landing areas and forward tee positions for golfers from pros to beginner; the age-old tradition of a caddie program; highly qualified staff and on-course chef and comfort stations to keep golfers refreshed, with complimentary snacks, cold beverages, home-made Mirabel treats and more.

Rancho Manana Golf Club

Rancho Manana Golf Club is located in the heart of the Sonoran Desert in historic Cave Creek, Arizona. Featuring a Scottsdale area par 70, this championship course boasts dramatic elevation changes and unspoiled desert terrain. This stunning, high desert course invites you to match your skills against nature while enjoying the unparalleled and unforgettable surrounding desert. It’s an experience that truly represents golf in the Arizona desert.

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 Club

Situated in Cave Creek amidst the stunning Sonoran Desert, Tatum Ranch Golf Club’s Robert Cupp-designed championship golf course serves as the centerpiece to a remarkable full-service private golf club. The 18 hole, 6,856-yard, par 72 layout challenges players with a unique desert landscape and a variety of shot-making opportunities.

From its delicious dining options and beautiful banquet amenities to its newly renovated fitness center and array of golf and social activities, Tatum Ranch Golf Club was designed to exceed its members’ needs and expectations at every turn.

Terravita Golf & Country Club

Situated in North Scottsdale just minutes away from Carefree, members have unlimited year-round access to this private, member-owned golf club.

The facility offers a complete practice facility, including a two-sided driving range, two short game areas and three putting greens. On-site PGA professionals provide a variety of instruction options and custom club fittings. The Clubhouse features multiple dining venues, spectacular views, and culinary delights. A walker-friendly golf course and guest rates are available as well. Membership includes access to more than 200 Troon golf courses worldwide, including other private clubs through the Troon Prive’ and Troon Advantage programs.

Troon North Golf Club

Troon North Golf Club stands as a hallmark of the Scottsdale desert golf experience with two 18-hole courses stretching through the natural ravines and foothills in the shadows of Pinnacle Peak. Giant granite boulders lie strewn across the rugged landscape of Arizona’s Sonoran Desert, where Troon North Golf Club combines iconic golf with the visual sensation of desert landscape, providing a standard unmatched in the American Southwest.

Revered as Scottsdale’s crown jewel, the challenge, visual sensation, and special ambiance of Troon North sets the standard by which all other courses are measured. The Monument and Pinnacle courses consistently rank at the top of every golfer’s must-play list. Recent course renovations by original designer and British Open Champion Tom Weiskopf have created two new layouts that bring his original concept to life.

Troon Golf Course

Whisper Rock Golf Club

Whisper Rock Golf Club is a 36-hole private facility in north Scottsdale. The mission of the Club is to provide the finest traditional golf experience possible. The Lower Course opened in February 2001, and was designed by PGA Tour player Phil Mickelson and architect Gary Stephenson. The course sits down in the desert amid lush natural washes and rolling desert topography, placing an emphasis on precise approach shots into intimate green complexes.

The Upper Course opened in January 2005, and was designed by renowned golf course architect Tom Fazio. This course sits on the north side of the property and is highlighted by the numerous rock outcroppings and dramatic mountain vistas. With a blend of national, seasonal and local memberships, Whisper Rock is committed to providing an outstanding golf experience.


The Sonoran Desert offers some of the most scenic hiking in the southwestern United States

Cave Creek Regional Park

Spanning 2,922 acres, Cave Creek Regional Park is located in the upper Sonoran Desert. The park features 44 developed campsites for tent and RV camping, with water and electrical hookups, a picnic table, and a barbecue fire ring. Restrooms are nearby with flush toilets and hot water showers.

The park offers over 11 miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding, ranging in length from the 0.2-mile Jasper Trail to the well-known 5.8-mile Go John Trail. Other activities include stargazing, park programs and the Cave Creek Regional Park Nature Center.

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 is located approximately 35 miles north of central Phoenix. The area offers over seven miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. Designated for hikers and equestrians, some trails lead visitors to the adjacent Tonto National Forest.

The scenic conservation area encompasses 2,154 acres of diverse, rugged upland desert. It contains numerous archaeology sites and the remnants of early mining and ranching occupation. Several floral communities present in the conservation area provide a rich habitat for a diverse assemblage of wildlife.