Dolly Steamboat on Canyon Lake, Apache Junction AZ

Guide To The Dolly Steamboat Cruise On Canyon Lake

I’ve been visiting the Superstition Mountains for years, and am in love with the scenic drives on the Apache trail.

When I saw that the Dolly Steamboat offers sightseeing cruises of Canyon Lake, I knew I had to give it a go.

Operating since 1983, the Dolly Steamboat offers scenic nature cruises, biologist-led wildlife cruises, and dinner cruises of Canyon Lake. 

My family and I went on the scenic nature cruise, and are now eager to return for a dinner cruise!

Here is everything you need to know about the Dolly Steamboat, including photos, cruise prices, and tips for visiting Canyon Lake. 

Dolly Steamboat on Canyon Lake, Apache Junction AZ

How To Get To The Dolly Steamboat

The Dolly Steamboat is located in the Canyon Lake Marina, just 30 minutes outside of Apache Junction.

To get there, take highway 60 to Apache junction, take Idaho road north to the State Route 88 (Apache Trail), drive 16 miles northeast on the Apache trail, and turn left into the Canyon Lake Marina right after you cross the single lane bridge. 

For exact directions, enter “Canyon Lake Marina, and Campground, Arizona” in google maps.

The Dolly Steamboat Review

The drive to Canyon Lake on Apache trail was windy, and scenic throughout. You’ll cross a narrow single-lane bridge right before you reach the marina on the left.

At the Canyon Lake Marina, there’s a restaurant, picnic areas, restrooms, and boat rentals.

Dolly Steamboat on Canyon Lake, Apache Junction AZ

We bought our tickets online and arrived 30 minutes early to secure our reservations at the ticket booth. Since it was a cloudy day, there were plenty of extra seats available.

Dolly Steamboat Photos
Dolly Steamboat on Canyon Lake, Apache Junction AZ

The Dolly Steamboat has 2 stories, restrooms, and both indoor and outdoor seating. Seating is first come first serve, so it’s best to arrive early so you can get the best seats.

You can bring water on board, and they have a snack bar selling popcorn, snacks, and drinks.

Dolly Steamboat Photos
Dolly Steamboat on Canyon Lake, Apache Junction AZ

The cruise starts on Canyon Lake, and tours throughout the canyon along the Salt River. We traveled 6 miles in total, and the entire cruise was 1.5 hours long.

We were able to spot bighorn sheep standing on the cliffs, petrified trees, and tons of unique rock formations in the mountains.

The captain was fun and informative, pointing sites out along the way which made the time fly by!

Dolly Steamboat on Canyon Lake, Apache Junction AZ

There were many people exploring the lake on kayaks and pontoon boat rentals as well, which are available with Precision Marine and Yak n Sup.

Precision Marine offers pontoon boat rentals, from 8:30am to 4pm. Yak N Sup offers kayak and paddle board rentals, along with tours.

Dolly Steamboat Photos
Dolly Steamboat on Canyon Lake, Apache Junction AZ

Overall, the Dolly Steamboat ride was peaceful and perfect for anyone who loves the outdoors. If you want to catch the sunset over Canyon Lake, they offer evening dinner tours with full meals.

Just remember to bring binoculars to get the best chance of spotting wildlife and fossils up close! 

Dolly Steamboat Photos

Dolly Steamboat Tips

  • Arrive early to buy tickets or book in advance online since they tend to sell out 
  • Bring binoculars for the best chance of spotting wildlife 
  • Sit on the right side for the best views
  • Check in 30 minutes before departure time at the ticket booth to secure your reservation
  • Book a dinner cruise if you want to catch the sunset over Canyon Lake

Dolly Steamboat Tours

If you’re visiting Arizona from out of town, you can go on a tour that includes the Dolly Steamboat so you don’t want to worry about transportation. 

There are a few tours available that visit the Dolly Steamboat, Tortilla Flat, and other notable sites around the Superstition Mountains. They provide roundtrip transportation from hotels in Phoenix, Mesa, and Scottsdale. 

Dolly Steamboat Distance From Major Cities

  • Dolly Steamboat to Phoenix AZ: 50.2 mi (1 hour)
  • Dolly Steamboat to Sedona AZ: 163.4 mi (3 hours)
  • Dolly Steamboat to Tucson AZ: 109.2 mi (2 hours)
  • Dolly Steamboat to Mesa AZ: 35.6 mi (50 min.)
  • Dolly Steamboat to Apache Junction AZ: 14.9 mi (30 min.)

Dolly Steamboat Map

The Dolly Steamboat FAQ

How much is the Dolly Steamboat ride?

The Dolly Steamboat offers four different cruises: scenic nature cruises, twilight dinner cruises, astronomy dinner cruises, and game & bighorn sheep cruises. Here are the current prices for the following cruises:

  • Scenic nature cruises: $30 for adults, $15 for children (4-12), $6 for children (3 and under)
  • Twilight dinner cruises: $79.95 for adults, $51.95 for children (5-12), $20 for children (4 and under)
  • Astronomy dinner cruises: $81.97 for adults, $55.87 for children (5-12), $20 for children (4 and under)
  • Game & bighorn sheep cruises: $40 and $25 for children (5-12), $16 for children (4 and under)

How long are the Dolly Steamboat rides?

The Dolly Steamboat scenic nature cruise rides are 1.5 hours, the dinner cruises are 2.5 hours, and the bighorn sheep cruises are the longest, at 3 hours. 

Is the Dolly Steamboat tour worth it?

Yes, the Dolly Steamboat ride is well worth it if you love the outdoors. On our scenic nature cruise, we were able to spot bighorn sheep, petrified trees, and lots of unique rock formations.

The cruise captain was enthusiastic, informative, and narrated along the way so we didn’t miss any important sights. 

Is the Desert Belle or Dolly Steamboat better?

The Desert Belle is another popular sightseeing cruise of Saguaro Lake that has been operating since 1964. 

The Desert Belle has a live music cruise, sunset wine cruise, and craft beer cruise. On the other hand, the Dolly Steamboat has dinner cruises with full meals, and a snack bar that sells alcohol. 

Dolly Steamboat cruises Canyon Lake, which arguably has more scenic views than Saguaro Lake. However, these cruises are both great options if you want to spot bighorn sheep and enjoy beautiful scenery.

How far is the Dolly Steamboat from Phoenix?

The Dolly Steamboat is 50.2 miles, or around a 1 hour drive from Phoenix. 

How far is the Dolly Steamboat from Tucson?

The Dolly Steamboat is 109.2 miles, or around a 2 hour drive from Tucson. 

How far is the Dolly Steamboat from Apache Junction?

The Dolly Steamboat is 14.9 miles, or around a 30 minute drive from Apache Junction. 

How far is the Dolly Steamboat from Mesa?

The Dolly Steamboat is 35.6 miles, or around a 50 minute drive from Mesa. 

Why is it named the Dolly Steamboat?

The Dolly Steamboat was named after its original owners, Dolly and Paul Kennedy who started tours in 1983.

The Dolly was then purchased by the Grimh family in 1987, and is now managed by Jeff and Cindi. 

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