Arizona Whitewater Rafting Trips

When one thinks of whitewater rafting in Arizona, an image of the Colorado River rushing through the Grand Canyon has to come to mind. There is also the Verde River and The Salt River, which also offer unique whitewater experiences and are less populated with vacationing rafters.

Arizona is a wild water paradise, and there are enough great rapids in the state to keep you excited for a lifetime. But the story of whitewater boating in Arizona is ultimately the story of one river, the Colorado.

The Colorado River basin is enormous and com­plex (naturally so, even before-modern Americans began hacking it up into one of the most complicated and controversial water-delivery systems in the world), and virtually every other river in the region eventually will flow into the Colorado. In the whitewater world, the Colorado is "the big one," and the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River in Arizona is to wild water adventure what El Capitan in Yosemite is to rock climbing-the ultimate symbol and, even today, the ultimate experi­ence.

The image of Arizona whitewater is one of power and sweep-big-volume rapids where the surge of moving water even more than the configuration of canyon, boulders, and bank creates the boating chal­lenge. And, of course, this water is a dull brown, muddy and opaque, frothing rather than sparkling. That's generally true, but even the Colorado starts as a mountain stream, fed by other mountain streams which are not all big, not all muddy.

Rafting the full 225 miles of the Colorado River is perhaps the top adventure travel dream trip in America. A few other rivers in Arizona provide shorter, scenic trips.

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Moki Mac

PO Box 71242Salt Lake CityUT84171USA


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Orange Torpedo Trips

PO Box 1111Grants PassOR97528USA


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Tour West

PO Box 333OremUT84059USA


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Western River Expeditions

7258 Racquet Club Dr.SaltUT84121USA


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White Water Rafting on the Verde River

The Verde River is Arizona's only national wild and scenic river. The section from near the town of Childs to Horseshoe Reservoir runs most of the way through the Mazatzal Wilderness. This is almost an untouched pristine riparian area.

To be designated a national wild and scenic river, the river must posses one or more specific "outstandingly remarkable values. The Verde River was found to contain outstandingly remarkable scenic, fish & wildlife, and historic & cultural values.

Trips run from February to April when spring run-off brings the whitewater up to Class 3. While the Verde River can be floated practically any month of the year, its primary river-running season is February to April with the best being March and April. Because the amount of run-off is so unpredictable, you'll always want to check conditions ahead of time. Guides are available.

The season on the Verde River runs from February to April. Most trips run about 25 miles of up to class III difficulty rapids. Outfitters for the Verde River allow for 3-4 day trips with riverside camping.

Whitewater Rafting on the Salt River in Arizona

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

Single day trips are 10 miles and often include a pack lunch and possible short hikes in side canyons. 2, 3 and 5-day trips are also available. They bring you deeper and deeper into the canyon and away from civilization.

The Salt River is situated along the southern edge of the Colorado Plateau between mountain and desert ecosystems. The result is an interesting variety of plant, animal and bird life. Trips start through oak and juniper woodlands before dropping into the Lower Sonoran desert with its magnificent saguaro cactus. Many side canyon hikes lead to fascinating micro-habitats for you to explore.

This one-day trip is very isolated with no roads. With good flows at the right time of the year, it's really a special treat. Up to Class II, IV rapids with the season running from March to May. Outfitter packages range from 1 day up to 5-day trips.