Lyman Lake State Park, Arizona

Lyman Lake State Park, Arizona

Nestled between the towns of St. Johns and Springerville, AZ, at an elevation of 6000 feet, lies Lyman Lake State Park. The 1200 acre park, opened on July 1, 1961, encompasses the shoreline of a 1,500-acre man-made irrigation reservoir, created by the damming of the Little Colorado River. The second and third highest mountains in Arizona, Mount Baldy and Escudilla Mountain, supply the snowmelt for Lake Lyman. The water is channeled into this massive river valley from a 790-square-mile watershed which extends into New Mexico.

Map of Lyman Lake State Park.

The lake area showcases two major geologic formations, the Chinle Formation, and the Moenkapi Formation. The Chinle Formation, which features weathered mudstones and tan sandstones, extends through northeastern Arizona and forms the spectacularly colored Painted Desert, and contains the beautiful fossil wood within Petrified Forest National Park. The Chinle Formation sits on top of the Moenkapi Formation, reddish brown siltstone, shale, and sandstone which is easily eroded under the cement-like sandstones of the Chinle Formation.

These rocks show the grey and tan colors of the Chinle Formation.


See how red these rocks are? These are part of the Moenkapi Formation.

Scattered among the dry, windswept rocks, one can find small spiral-shaped shells that are the remains of land mollusks named Sonorella Oreohelix.  Under the right conditions, these secretive snails come out of their resting state to feed and mate.  It makes you wonder what creatures were contained in the streams flowing through the area during the late Triassic period (227-206 million years ago).

It always seems odd to find shells in such an arid landscape. But millions of years ago, it wasn’t so arid!

Because of its size, Lyman Lake is one of the few bodies of water in northeastern Arizona with no size restriction on boats. The west end of the lake has a no wake area, which allows fishermen an opportunity to catch walleye, channel catfish and largemouth bass.

The shallower end of the lake is quieter and better for fishing.

At the General Store, we met one of three Park Rangers who helps oversee the park. After hiking the one-mile Pointe Trail, we enjoyed a small bite of food before driving the roads in the park.

Missy enjoys a respite from the wind and sun under a Juniper tree.


The General Store at the park. They have nice mix of supplies and they even have books and videos that you can borrow.


Lunch of champions!

Several paved and gravel roads allow visitors the opportunity to explore the less frequented areas of the park.

This area was a haven for Say’s Phoebe’s.


The edge of the lake offered a nice supply of bugs for the sparrows to eat.

Birds and waterfowl are abundant. We saw: Western Grebe, Pied-billed Grebe, Killdeer, Turkey Vulture, Gadwall, Mallards, Fox Sparrow, Blue-grey Gnatcatcher, Canada Gees, Say’s Phoebe, American Coot, Eastern Meadowlark, Kingfisher and Long-billed Dowitcher.

One of the unique features of the park is the many petroglyphs found along Peninsula Petroglyph Trail.

Informational sign discussing the parks petroglyphs.

The presence of different petroglyph styles in the park indicates that more than one prehistoric culture made the glyphs, or that the style used by one culture changed through time. The earliest petroglyphs in the park seem to date from the Archaic (6000 BC to AD 300) and Basketmaker (from about AD 300 to 700) periods. Most of the petroglyphs date to the Pueblo periods (AD 700 through 1400), with the majority produced during the final three centuries of prehistoric occupation. (taken from the document “Interpreting the Prehistory of Lyman Lake State Park“)

These figures may represent a successful hunt.

The park offers many sites for RV or tent camping, and even has several small cabins available for rent.

Lyman Lake State Park has a lot to offer and the $7 entrance fee was well worth it. There is much to see and do at this lovely state park.

A nice place to sit.


A natural table formed by erosion.


The moss patterns on the rocks are as interesting as the rocks themselves.


The river cuts a slice through the landscape. We saw two Mallards floating down the river. It reminded us of the rubber duckies you can fin at a fair that float down a water-filled trough!

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