The lake is the largest in the state except for those on the Colorado River, and the southwest shoreline is easily reached from AZ 188, which runs close to the lake for most of its 18 mile length, passing various marinas and campsites. Some of these sites used to be free, but a recent change in policy has meant that fees are now charged. There is little access to the northeast side as the terrain here is more mountainous. One track (FR 60, or A Cross Road) winds through the hills from AZ 288 in the south to AZ 188 north of the lake but this runs several miles from the shore and only a few long and very bumpy 4WD trails lead towards the water. One point of interest along the track is Salome Creek
, best approached from the north end - this is famous because of a short section of granite narrows ('The Jug') with smooth, sheer, pinkish-white walls, deep pools and waterfalls.
In common with other lakes in the Phoenix area, summer water temperatures of Theodore Roosevelt Lake can exceed 90 °F, but cooling afternoon thunderstorms are common. The last few years had seen a dramatic reduction in the water level, largely due to the need to maintain supply to the other lakes on the Salt River downstream - in some places the shoreline was half a mile distant from the previous high point. Still, in such conditions many good beaches are exposed which provide excellent camping opportunities, close to the water, although in some places soft mud makes vehicular travel difficult. One good location is Bachelor Cove
, along AZ 188 a little north of Theodore Roosevelt Dam.