Thursday, April 25, 2013
Paddling in Arizona
When many paddlers think of Arizona as a paddling destination, the only river that readily comes to mind is the mighty Colorado, yet there are other places which offer much. One such river is the Salt River Canyon below the Roosevelt Lake reservoir. This river is a popular destination for weekenders in the Phoenix area looking for something wet and cool on their time off. While I didn't paddle the river, I did check it out and will return some day to sample its offerings.
The upper parts nearest the dam feature smooth water between rounded hills of assorted desert plants and terrain (see the top photo). There are sandy beaches on which to camp and plenty of cliffs and so on to delight almost any paddler.
Now here's the thing. Getting to the dam can be a challenge. The 30 mile road into the mountains is un-paved and mostly single track. On a good day it's only mildly rutted and wash-boarded. On a bad day, I recommend stopping in Tortilla Flats, the end of the pavement and enjoying something cold at the bar. You won't be sorry you did. The place is really something else...
If you make it to the put-in, you'll really enjoy the paddle. As the river drops, the hills rise, in places dramatically with vertical cliff faces towering high above the water. The other good news is, as far as I know, there's no need to book ahead, no camping fees and none of the crowded conditions one faces on the Colorado. I can't wait...!