Canyon Lake

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In 1991 Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired at the age of 38. Now, into their 3rd decade of this financially independent lifestyle, they invite you to take advantage of their wisdom and experience.

Steamboating on Canyon Lake, Arizona

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

We live in an Active Adult Community, and one of the benefits of doing so is having the availability of group tours for an excellent price. For $10 USD we were transported from our doorstep by an air conditioned bus driven by a Limo driver to Canyon Lake, about an hour away. This same $10 covered our entrance fee into the park and the 90 minute narrated nature cruise on the Steamboat Dolly, a replica of a Sternwheeler paddleboat. Ice cold bottled water was provided as well. On this 100 degree day, that was most appreciated!


Many people, unfamiliar with living in America's stunning southwest, consider desert scenery to be bleak and uninviting. However, those of us acquainted with the gnarly bushes, strange looking cacti and seemingly barren earth find mystery, adaptability and a tale of survival.

A small gully wash is in the foreground of the photo and Saguaro cacti which are over 50 years old!


Now we are approaching Canyon Lake which has a surface area of 950 acres. There are 28.3 miles of shoreline at the lake and its length is 10 miles. The deepest place in the lake is 142 feet and is filled by the Salt River.

Notice the younger Saguaro cacti in this photo. They do not yet have the distinctive 'arm' of an older cactus, which normally grows at about the 50 year mark in the life of the Saguaro.


This photo gives you a closer look at the spines of the Saguaro cactus which grow straight out like a needle.


Our gracious and professional Limo driver hauled the twenty-five of us from our community homes to the Canyon lakeside.


Heloooo Dolly!

Built in 1983, the Dolly Steamboat is a replica of a Sternwheeler paddleboat and weighs 40 tons! One hundred and three feet long, it will hold 155 passengers.

We joined some other passengers who were waiting, walked the concrete incline to board the double-decker boat and found seats in the shade. It was well over the 100 degree mark by now.


After boarding the boat, it slowly paddled away from shore and out into the lake. Captain Jeff Grimh put on background music which teleported us into a three dimensional experience as we observed nature's magnificence. It was like watching a true country western, and respect for both native peoples and pioneers was renewed.


These bat caves are hollowed out in the sides of the mountains. After dark, the bats come out by the thousands for their evening feed.


Every turn gave us awesome views of the towering mountains and the 70 degree water.


It looks like the lake ends here already, but of course, we made the turn where it opens up again to outstanding scenery. We made many of these turns and around each corner was a stunning view.


Tall ragged cliffs with spots of craggy bushes. A brutal and rugged beauty. How did the natives and the first settlers here survive?


Pocked boulders make a jagged outline against the dazzling blue sky.


Here, a single barrel cactus clings on for life. They seem to need almost no soil to take hold.


A closer look will show you that the spines of this barrel cactus curve like a fish hook. They grow towards the sun and often seem to appear ready to fall over! Unlike other plants they grow towards the south in order to prevent sunburn and are also called 'compass cactus' because of this feature.


If you look closely, you will see round protruding shapes coming out of the rocky hillside. These are remnants of tree trunks that have now petrified into stone.



Welcome to the neighborhood! More pitted holes into the hillside. Animal or bird homes?


The dark black vertical lines on these rocks are made from minerals deposited onto the sides of the mountains by waterfalls after a rain. This natural process is called 'staining.'

It's hard to imagine that these seemingly barren cliffs are teeming with life.


If you look closely in the center of the photo, you will see a Bighorn Sheep. He blends in well with the background and from a distance, he is difficult to see at all. Completely vegetarian, he feasts upon the green shrubbery of the hillside. You can see some 'jumping cholla' cactus on both sides of the Bighorn Sheep.


A closer look at the Jumping Cholla cactus. During droughts, animals like the bighorn sheep rely on the fruit from this cactus for food and water. The name 'jumping cholla' comes from the ease with which the stems detach from the plant and attach themselves to your clothes or body, seeming to 'jump' out at you!

There are many types of plants in the desert and they can take on odd shapes and characteristics. This many stemmed bush loses its leaves and underneath is a tough, woody, honeycomb lattice-work skeleton.


This prickly pear cactus is in full bloom. The flat green leaves are known as nopales and are a common food in Mexico. The bright red fruit are known as cactus figs and are often used to make candies, jellies and a refreshing drink. Birds love them too!


The green coloring on the side of this mountain is a desert lichen known only to grow in this area. This lichen gives a subtle coloring to the red rock.


After 90 minutes out in the over 100 degree heat, I'm ready for some ice cold lemonade!

For current prices of the 90 minute narrated nature cruise through the secluded inner waterways of the Junior Grand Canyon on Canyon Lake call 480. 827. 9144 or check out their website at

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About the Authors

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance, medical tourism and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their award winning website, they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991. They wrote the popular books, The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible available on their website bookstore or on

Retire Early Lifestyle appeals to a different kind of person – the person who prizes their independence, values their time, and who doesn’t want to mindlessly follow the crowd.

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