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Salt River - Upper

Basics
Location:
Fort Apache Indian Reservation, Tonto National Forest
River:
Salt
Class:
Class II - IV; primarily III
River Length
51.9 miles
Time:
3-5 days for a full raft; shorter runs possible
Season:
Late February to May

Description

The Upper Salt River runs from US Highway 60 through State Highway 288, a length that sounds far more bland than it is. This river is nearly 52 miles of dramatic and largely untouched scenery, and the rapids are truly wild. Small waterfalls are plentiful, making the ride that much rougher, but if you're experienced, these drops should prove exciting, but not too scary.

Most of the river is Class III with occasional, milder Class II sections and trickier Class IV stretches. When the river is quieter, watch the rugged mountains and cacti of the Sonoran Desert drift past and keep an eye out for wildlife. From the 41.3 mile mark to the 42.3 mile mark is a nesting area for bald eagles, but you can see these birds and other raptors at other points along the river. Mountain lions, coyotes, and other animals are also worth looking for.

Because of the river's untouched beauty and because it can only be rafted a brief time (and because Arizona has few rafting rivers), the Upper Salt can be crowded. The ride, however, is always well worth it.

Rafting

Salt River Canyon provides some excellent whitewater rafting opportunities. Single and multi-day trips are available with rapids up to Class 4.

Tour Companies

  • Upper Salt River
  • Rafting, Kayaking
  • 800-462-7238

Arizona Rafting by Wilderness Aware Rafting Experience world-class whitewater rapids and Sonoran desert beauty – the Salt River Wilderness features stunning biological diversity and breathtaking grandeur. Choose a half day rafting trip, a five day whitewater rafting trip or anything in between. This is NOT a tubing trip. It is a great whitewater day trip near Phoenix or Tucson. BOOK NOW!

River Details

Class:
Class II - IV; primarily III
River Length
51.9 miles
Time
3-5 days for a full raft; shorter runs possible
Season:
Late February to May
Nearest Town
Whiteriver
Guides Available?
Yes
Camping Info
Primitive camping only; requires permit
Additional Details
A permit from the White Mountain Apache Nation and/or Tonto National Forest is required to raft this river. Call 928-402-6200 for Tonto National Forest, and 928-338-4385 for the White Mountain Apache Tribe.

There is a rapid before the first put-in, Apache Falls, but it is sacred to the Apache tribe and illegal to raft.

Map + Directions

Basic Directions
The first put-in is at the US Highway 60 Bridge RAP in the Fort Apache Indian Reservation; the last put-out is at Highway 288 Bridge RAP.
Customizable Directions


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