Pena Blanca means “white rock” in Spanish.  The lake was named this because of its light-colored bluffs overlooking the water.  It is surrounded by Pena Blanca Canyon in the Pajarito Mountain foothills and offers year round water recreation.  The lake is a beautiful 49-acre lake and is at an elevation of 4,000 feet.  The Arizona Game and Fish Department built Pena Blanca Lake in 1957. 

Fishing is an obviously the most popular activity at the lake.  Fishermen will find bass, catfish, rainbow trout, bluegill and crappie.  The lake allows only electric trolling motors on boats.  A valid Arizona fishing license is required.

There are other activities that are popular at Pena Blanca Lake.  Bird watching, photography and hiking are some of the best ways to enjoy the lake.  The Pena Blanca Trail is a fairly level path that follows the shoreline most of the two mile route around the lake.  You will find White Rock Campground nearby.  There are 15 sites with facilities including tables, grills, water and toilets.  A $5.00 per night per vehicle charge is required.

Visitors need to be prepared for chilly weather in the winter months.  The lake is at a high elevation; even though it is in Southern Arizona it can be quite cool.  In the summer months, visitors should be prepared for crowds.  On weekends and on holidays the lake can become extremely popular spot.

You can get the Pena Blanca Lake by taking Interstate 19 north out of Nogales for 8 miles up to the Ruby Road exit.  Then take the Pena Blanca/Ruby Road exit12 left and head west to the lake.  The drive over to the lake is approximately 10 miles on a paved road. 


For more information on Pena Blanca Lake, you may call 520-287-5251.

This medium sized body of water fills 49 acres of Peña Blanca Canyon in the Pajarito Mountain foothills of extreme southeastern Arizona. It is surrounded by grassy, oak-dotted hills, some of which are topped with bluffs of limestone. Peña Blanca Lake is a popular recreation spot for visitors from neighboring Nogales, Arizona and nearby communities in Mexico as well. On weekends and even weekdays, during the peak summer season, this area can be quite crowded. On holidays, especially on Easter, it becomes extremely crowded.

Peña Blanca Lake was built in 1957 by the Arizona Game & Fish Department. It provides water-related recreation year-round, although its location so close to the Mexican Border can be a bit deceptive. Frequently, people who come here during the winter expecting warm, balmy weather are surprised at how cool it can be. This is a mountain lake located at 4,000 feet above sea level and its climate reflects that fact. 

Whenever you choose to visit Peña Blanca Lake, you will find a number of recreational opportunities to enjoy, In the winter, fishing for stocked trout is best. Warm water species such as catfish , bass and bluegill, challenge anglers year-round. The lake is also open to boats with power sources limited to a single electric trolling motors. Birdwatching, photography, and hiking are some of the other activities that are quite popular here and one of the best ways to enjoy them is on the Peña Blanca Trail. This mostly level pathway follows the shoreline for the majority of its two-mile route which goes most of the way around the lake. 

LOCATION: 68 miles south of Tucson and 17 miles northwest of Nogales in Peña Blanca Canyon.


Turn west off of I-19 approximately 8 miles north of Nogales at the Peña Blanca/Ruby Road (AZ Highway 289) Exit 12. 

Follow the road west about 9 miles to Peña Blanca Lake Recreation Area. 

Turn right (north) on the paved road that leads to the lake and boat launching area. 

SEASON: Year-round

ELEVATION: 4,000 feet


Year-round season 

Paved boat launch ramp 

Fishing for trout, catfish, bluegill 

Barrier-free fishing dock 

Lakeside hiking/birdwatching 

Nearby campground/lakeside picnic areas 

Group Use Area 


A recent increase in the number of people swimming in Peña Blanca Lake has resulted in a sharp increase in drownings here. When this lake was formed, scores of rocks were submerged in the rugged canyon that was flooded. Some of those remain under a few inches of water, and pose lethal hazards to swimmers and divers. Trees, brush, and other materials anchored in the lake to provide habitat for fish also become deathtraps for the unwary. Please be careful. 

A valid Arizona fishing license is required for fishing at Peña Blanca Lake. Arizona Game & Fish Department rules and regulations apply.