|The Verde River forms at Sullivan Lake, where Big Chino Wash and Williamson Valley Wash merge south of Paulden in the Big Chino Valley of Yavapai County, then flows south by southeast about 170 miles to its Salt River confluence just northeast of Scottsdale and Phoenix. Along the way, it passes through parts of three national forests (Prescott, Cococino and Tonto), the cities of Cottonwood, Clarkdale and Camp Verde, and lands belonging to various tribes of the Apache Nation, private landowners and the State of Arizona. It is a perennial stream in a state known for its "dry" rivers, but it is not always boatable, and may have navigable flows in some reaches when others are too low to paddle. Its waters come from snowmelt in the mountains around the three forests, as well as seasonal monsoons. Surrounding lands are vastly disparate in nature, ranging from densely-forested upland plateaus to canyons to desert lowlands, each with its own diverse plantlife, animals, birds and fish. Beginning about 70 miles below the headwaters is a reach of 40.5 miles that is designated as "Wild and Scenic" by the US Congress, where the river and surrounding lands are perpetually protected against development and overuse.
The character of the Verde River ranges from easy Class I flatwater to canyons with Class IV to V rapids and waterfall drops. Convenient (and I use the term loosely, because some local roads are less than ideal for vehicular traffic) access points provide paddlers with many choices for trips of various lengths and degrees of difficulty. Campers will find a very remote place to enjoy nature's beauty. The area is rich in outdoors recreational opportunities that include river running, camping, hiking, mountain biking, hunting, fishing, animal and bird watching, nature photography and other activities. The headwaters are a few miles southwest of Flagstaff and just a little further northeast of Prescott. There are three dams on the Verde River, at Sullivan Lake, Horseshoe Reservoir and Bartlett Reservoir, with about 125 free-flowing miles between Sullivan and Horseshoe and another 19 miles between Horseshoe and Bartlett. The river can be hazardous at low flows and at high flows, so careful attention should be paid to river conditions before beginning a downriver trip. Specific characteristics of the river are discussed for various reaches, as described at the links below.
Click the links below for information regarding the section of the Verde River and its tributaries where you want to paddle.
[ US Hwy 89 to Perkinsville ] [ Perkinsville to Beasley Flat ] [ Beasley Flat to Childs ] [ Childs to Horseshoe Reservoir ]
[ Horseshoe Reservoir to Bartlett Reservoir ] [ Bartlett Reservoir to Salt River ] [ East Verde River ] [ Sycamore Creek ]