Pena Blanca Lake

Area Status: Open


This medium-sized lake fills nearly 50 acres of Peña Blanca Canyon in the foothills of the Atascosa and Pajarito Mountains. It is surrounded by grassy, oak-dotted hills, some of which are topped with bluffs of limestone.

Pena Blanca Lake is a popular recreation spot for visitors from neighboring Nogales, Arizona and nearby communities in Mexico. On weekends, and some weekdays, during the peak summer season, this area can be quite crowded. On holidays, especially Easter, it becomes extremely crowded.

Pena Blanca Lake was created in 1957 when the Arizona Game and Fish Department constructed a dam. This is a mountain lake located at 4,000 feet elevation. Anglers can find Largemouth Bass, Bluegill and Redear Sunfish, and Channel Catfish within the lake. Note: Levels of contaminants, including mercury, might be present in the lake and are not routinely monitored.

The area offers a boat ramp, fishing piers, a lakeshore trail, and picnic areas.

  • Pena Blanca Lake Pena Blanca Lake - view from dam Upper Thumb Rock Picnic Area Pena Blanca Map

At a Glance

Current Conditions: Levels of contaminants, including mercury, might be present in the lake and are not routinely monitored.
Area Amenities: Accessible,Boat ramp,Fee charged for some activities,Picnic tables,Toilets,Parking
Day-use: $8 per vehicle
Weekly: $10 per vehicle
Buy a pass online, or purchase a pass on-site with cash or check. Proof of payment, or a valid Coronado National Forest Annual Pass or Interagency (America the Beautiful) Pass, including the Annual, Senior, Access, or Military Pass, must be displayed on the driver's side of the vehicle dashboard. Learn more about accepted passes.
Restrictions: A valid Arizona fishing license (available online and at outdoor stores around the state) is required for all anglers 10 years of age and older. Current regulations are Rainbow Trout (4), Largemouth Bass (6), Sunfishes (Unlimited), and Channel Catfish (4), in any combination and statewide possession limits are twice (2x) the daily bag limit for each species.  “Possession limit” means the maximum limit, in number or amount of fish, which may be possessed at one time by any one person. Using live bait fish is prohibited. Boats are limited to one 10 hp motor or less.
Closest Towns: 68 miles south of Tucson and 17 miles northwest of Nogales in Peña Blanca Canyon.
Water: No drinking water is available
Operated By: Nogales Ranger District

General Information

Directions: Turn west off Interstate 19 approximately 8 miles north of Nogales at the Peña Blanca–Ruby Road (AZ Hwy 289) exit. Follow this road about 9 miles to Peña Blanca Lake Recreation Area. Turn right (north) on the paved road that leads to the lake and the boat launching ramp.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Lake and Pond Fishing

Paved boat launch ramp, barrier-free fishing dock, floating fishing piers.

Day Hiking

Lakeshore trail


Boating - Motorized


Swim at your own risk. Levels of contaminants, including mercury, might be present in the lake and are not routinely monitored. There is no designated swimming area and no lifeguard on duty. Swimming is prohibited near the boat ramp.


Picnic tables: Yes
Parking: Yes
Toilets: Yes
Fee charged for some activities: Yes
Accessible: Yes
Boat ramp: Yes

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


  Latitude : 

  Longitude : 

  Elevation : 
4,000 feet