• Surface Area: 116 Acres
• Volume: 800 Acre Feet
• Drainage Area: 83 Square Miles
• Average Depth: 7 Feet
By damming Walnut Creek in 1903, Mormon settlers created Rainbow Lake. Eventually, the settlement grew into a community called Lakeside, incorporated in 1986 as the Town of Pinetop-Lakeside. Rainbow Lake now lies just outside the boundaries of the Town of Pinetop-Lakeside; but is intimately connected with the area because of Walnut Creek, which runs through three lakes (in downstream order) in the area - Woodland Park Lake (owned by the Town of Pinetop-Lakeside); Rainbow Lake and the privately owned Lake of the Woods. Rainbow Lake is mostly surrounded by homes, including the private HOA Shores at Rainbow Lake on the southeast side. Arizona Game and Fish maintains a Public Landing on the northwest side of the lake allowing access for fishing, boating, swimming, bird watching or just enjoying the outdoors.
In past years, Rainbow Lake has had a significant problem with invasive aquatic weeds, particularly the Eurasian Milfoil. Efforts by the local volunteer group Show Low Creek Watershed Enhancement Partnership (SLCWEP), in conjunction with the Little Colorado River Plateau RC&D, resulted in a systemic herbicide treatment of the lake in the summer and fall of 2011. The results were not as good as hoped, with the coontail weed rapidly replacing the milfoil in the lake. Long term efforts of the Rainbow Lake Coalition (a subcommitte of the SLCWEP) are now focused on the introduction of sterile white Amur carp, which have been proven to control milfoil for up to 10 years. Arizona Game and Fish requires mediation to ensure that the carp, a non-native fish, are prevented from escaping Rainbow Lake and potentially invading other water bodies. The Rainbow Lake Coalition is now working to design and construct a fish barrier on Walnut Creek below Lake of the Woods, who have used the carp for weed control for many years.
Rainbow Lake was built as a storage facility for the Pinetop-Woodland Lake Irrigation Company, who own all the water in the lake to be used for irrigation purposes. The water levels in the lake vary widely, depending on the season, rainfall and the needs of the irrigation company. In 1998, the Show Low Irrigation Company and the Pinetop-Woodland Irrigation Company merged; however, the land under the lake (to the "high water mark") is still owned by the Irrigation company as well as all the water. The public landing, which is managed by the Arizona Game and Fish Department, is located on in Navajo County near Lakeside at 6,760 feet. The land surrounding the lake is privately owned and not generally accessible to the public; however, the Department owns a small parcel of land on the lake used as a Public Landing and maintains it for public fishing and recreational boating.