Dolly Steamboat Offers Opportunities for Wildlife Viewing

By Lynette Carrington

Dolly Steamboat Offers Opportunities for Wildlife Viewing

Dolly Steamboat Offers Unique Opportunities for Wildlife Viewing and Outdoor Adventures

The majestic beauty of Canyon Lake springs to life aboard Dolly Steamboat, the sternwheeler that offers a variety of lake cruises year-round. One of the major attractions of taking a cruise includes the many opportunities to view wildlife; both the expected and the unexpected. Co-owner and Senior Pilot of the Dolly Steamboat, Jeff Grimh explains all the wildlife sightings that are possible during a Canyon Lake Cruise.

For nearly 30 years, Grimh has had the unique experience of observing all the various birds and creatures that cross his path at Canyon Lake. “The minute I came on with Dolly Steamboat, I was piloting,” Grimh explains. He embraces his wildlife experiences. He says, “Of course, we see the desert bighorn sheep. We have mule deer that we occasionally see and also, some white tail deer. We have bald eagles and every year for the last nine years, we’ve been seeing a pair of bald eagles hatch out one to two eaglets. That’s really exciting and then we watch them learn how to fly right from the next. They spread their wings and they’re really shaky. It’s always fun to see that.”

Other animals that can be viewed at various times aboard Dolly Steamboat include the red-tailed hawk, the world’s fastest bird, the peregrine falcon, fish hawk and the occasional mountain lion. A few times, the crew has seen a mountain lion creeping up on a desert big horn sheep, and luckily, the sheep have escaped. “A rare occurrence has been a sighting of a coatimundi,” says Grimh. “It’s a small, raccoon-like animal. It has a 22-inch tail and has a snout on it like a raccoon. They plod along and we’ve had four sightings of those.” One time, someone even spotted a black bear from aboard Dolly Steamboat. Sometimes, disoriented birds are blown off-course and pelicans, egrets or unusual migratory ducks are spotted by cruise guests.

Lake-related Trail Opportunity

For more advanced hikers, there is a trail out of Canyon Lake. “There are no maintained trails around Canyon Lake proper,” says Grimh. “On the lake you don’t have trails, other than the trail that leads out of Canyon Lake out of the marina parking lot called the Boulder canyon Trail. That one skirts up Boulder Canyon. It goes up and over and feeds into the Superstition Mountains. It’s a fairly aggressive trail.”

Dolly Steamboat Cruises

The Dolly Steamboat Twilight Dinner Cruise is 2 ½ hours and includes a full buffet dinner as you watch the sun sink behind the cliffs and capture the desert beauty as the moon rises and the stars reveal themselves. Catering is provided by Brown Brothers Catering of Arizona the menu always includes two entrees; beef and chicken. The food alone continually receives rave reviews! Private charters are also available for just about any event. The Dolly Steamboat has full catering available for guests who need it.

Each month, there is also a very special 2 ½ hour Astronomy Cruise (including dinner) with “Dr. Sky,” Steve Kates who will give cruise guests a breakdown of the night sky and interpret the constellations in a fun and engaging way. He uses a blue laser beam to point to and distinguish the stars about which he is speaking. This is the perfect time to learn more about our galaxy of stars!

For additional information on the Dolly Steamboat, cruise schedule, a photo gallery, convenient online reservations and directions to the Canyon Lake Marina, visit For any other questions or to arrange private charters or corporate events, please call (480) 827-9144.