Sights To See

in the surprise arizona area

The Surprise, Arizona area has many outstanding activities, scenic wonders, beautiful lakes and mountains.


Did you ever stop to think you could be scuba diving in the middle of the desert? Well catch your breath because Lake Pleasant is known as one of the best inland scuba diving locations in the western states. This hidden destination is 43 miles outside of Phoenix and 29 miles from Surprise. It is on the northwest side of Peoria and is surrounded by The Lake Pleasant Regional Park. The park is 23,000 acres of scenic and beautiful desert landscape and home to numerous species of wildlife. Over 400 wild donkeys roam the desert and drink from the shores of the 10,000-acre lake.

The park has 225 camping sites for RV’s and tent camping, reservations highly recommended. There are over 4 miles of pedestrian only hiking trails and range from .5 to 2 miles and are considered moderate in difficulty. Roadrunner Trail, Wild Burro Trail, Walkin’ Jim Trail, and Yavapai Point Trail are the top four hiking trails. Mountain bicyclists and pleasure bicyclists will all find a trail to match their skills.

The lake has two marinas; Scorpion Bay and Pleasant Harbor. In addition, there are two boat launches. Both marinas have restaurants and rest room facilities. Lake cruises are offered out of Pleasant Harbor Marina. Lake Pleasant is a recreational water sport mecca. Jet skis, water skiing, paddle boards, sail boats, kayaks, speed boats, and pontoons can be found on the lake throughout the year. Boat rentals are available at each marina.

Fishing is plentiful and Lake Pleasant is home to Bluegill, Sunfish, Black and White Crappie, Large and Small mouth bass, stripe bass and the state’s only population of white bass. Tilapia, bigmouth buffalo fish, carp, and two types of catfish are also there to tease the dedicated angler. A little something for any fisherman’s taste!

The lake was created in 1927 by the Carl Pleasant Dam later renamed the Waddell Dam and filled by the Aqua Fria River. In 1973, an aqueduct system was developed and water from the Colorado River was diverted. The lake tripled in size and is considered an artificial storage reservoir and the second largest body of water in Central Az. Today, those scuba divers can explore the original dam about 100 feet below the surface of the water. At times, the lake is 250 feet deep. Lake Pleasant is a must go to location for visitors and residents alike who need a little water escape. There is something magical about boating or fishing in the middle of the Sonoran Desert.



The White Tank Mountains are rugged, alluring, tranquil yet stimulating at the same time. And, they are the perfect backdrop for our amazing Arizona sunsets. One can experience a kaleidoscope of colors depending on the time of day and season, those ever-changing colors add depth and contrast which add to the intrigue and mystery buried within the history of the mountains.

The mountains are in the northwest valley of the greater Phoenix area where Buckeye and Surprise, Arizona are fortunate to have them in their own backyards.  The White Tanks are the cornerstone for the White Tank Regional Park. The park is almost 30,000 acres and home to a multitude of hiking trails. Trails such as Mule Deer, Ford Canyon, Black Rock, White Tank Waterfall, and more offer trails from easy to extremely difficult. At times of the year, there may be water flowing at the waterfall. The highest peak is Barry Goldwater Peak at 4081Ft.

Along some of the trails, a person may discover one of the 11 archaeological sites occupied during 500 –1100 AD., of which 7 are ancient Hohokam villages. Petroglyphs done centuries ago are still evident, some made by the Hohokam and others even older by the Meso-Indians.

In addition to hiking; camping, picnicking, horseback riding, and stargazing are favorites of the locals. There are BBQ grills, covered and uncovered picnic tables, restrooms, and play areas for children.  There is a White Tank Library and Native Center where park attendees can see indigenous reptiles, learn about the wildlife, schedule guided tours and scorpion hunting at night! Roadrunners, coyotes, mule deer, javelina, and even a mountain lion or two can be spotted throughout the park. Reptiles include different types of rattlesnakes and lizards. The White Tanks and the surrounding desert have much to offer. The park volunteers and staff are always helpful and proud to tell you about the secrets and ways of our majestic desert mountain.


The Wildlife World Zoo is a gem located in the West Valley outside of Phoenix in Litchfield Park just minutes from Surprise off the 303 Loop. The Wildlife World Zoo also has a 4-building aquarium and a 15-acre Safari Park. Looking at the Zoo from the 303 Loop, no one would imagine there are lion, tigers, and bears close by. In fact, there are more than 600 species, rides, a petting zoo, daily shows, baby nursery, and restaurants.

The Adventure Land is 15 acres of North, Central, South American animals including buffalo, bears, coyotes, bobcats, and monkeys. If you love birds, there are birds everywhere and a variety of species to discover. The aquarium is home to eels, stingrays, shark, turtles, otters, sea lions, and Lil' Nimo look a likes, and more. The only saltwater crocodile and rare white alligator in AZ live at The Wildlife World Zoo, as well.

The Wildlife World Zoo is a USDA licensed, private institution and has received zero tax dollars to build or operate the Zoo. It was honored with the Recipient of 2019 General Care and Conservation Award. The institution also gives back in giving dollar donations as well as in kind support and staff expertise to local, national, and international organizations on habitat restoration and wildlife conservation. There are events planned throughout the year and much more to see, learn, and experience than listed here.