Watson Lake and The Granite Dells
Tell me if something like this has happened to you. Sometimes you keep encountering pictures of a certain place that really gets your attention. Since the place keeps appearing over and over again, you make a mental note similar to the following: “I am going to visit that place if I ever visit x or y city.”
Sometimes it is not an ephemeral mental note. You bookmark a photo post, pin to a board or add to a Trover list the place that keep appearing in your dreams. Those actions increased your desire of visiting.
Then, for some reason or another, the place starts to disappear from your radar. It gets logged in a hidden corner of your memory and it rarely resurfaces. The probability of the initial impulse getting a reality decreases.
Not long ago, one of my own mental notes hit just in time.
Driving along Route 89 towards Prescott (Arizona), we got to a high point where large chunks of the valley were visible. I noticed hundreds of rounded boulders emerging from the flat surface. As we continued driving South, it felt like we were getting closer and closer to the area were the jumbo rocks were concentrated.
Sunset was fast approaching and we had kind of an urge to make it to the final destination of the day. And that is when I remembered a picture I once saw of a deep blue lake surrounded by huge boulders in all shapes and sizes.
At that moment, I took the phone and started looking for lakes in a map of the area. Aha, Watson Lake! That is where I wanted to go. We were only a mile away from the turnout (almost missed it!).
The boulders located north of Prescott are known as the Granite Dells. The Dells consist of exposed bedrock and large boulders of granite that have eroded into an unusual lumpy, rippled appearance.
The smooth rocks reflect on Watson Lake, a reservoir formed in the early 1900s when the Chino Valley Irrigation District built a dam on Granite Creek. The City of Prescott bought the reservoir and surrounding land in 1997 to preserve it as recreational land.
As you can imagine, The Granite Dells are a prime location for rock climbing. The lake is also the home of TriCity Prep Rowing Crew, a local high school team and only rowing team in Northern Arizona. Activities such as camping, boating, picnicking and strolling can be practiced in the area.
The boulders and the lake can be seen from Route 89A. However, it is recommended to enter the recreational area for much better views.
Not a great deal of physical effort is needed to enjoy the panorama since the parking lots are very close to the “viewpoints.” You can start by exploring the rocks around the boat ramp area. There is another area from where you can get a bird’s view of the lake and rocks formations popping out in different colors. Specific instructions of the recreational area are not needed because it is pretty easy to drive around.
There is even a legend associated with this specific location. In the 1800s, a party of successful prospectors was returning from the Big Sandy River to Prescott with a load of gold dust and nuggets held in several canvas bags. Taking a rest and water break at The Granite Dells, they were soon attacked by Indians. Quickly, the prospectors buried the gold near the spring as the attack ensued. All but one of the prospectors was killed by the Indians. Later, the lone survivor would return to the site with a search party on several occasions. However, they never found any signs of the buried gold. Some have speculated that the Indians dug up the treasure and reburied it somewhere else in the same area. In any case the treasure remains somewhere in the Granite Dells waiting for discovery. Imagine a visitor hitting the pot of gold!
- There is a $2 parking fee.
- Find more info here.
Have you been to a lake surrounded by spectacular rock formations?
Ready to pin? Let’s do this!