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Salt River, Arizona
Report by Marc W. McCord

Upper Salt River, Arizona

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SOAR Inflatable Canoes - Somewhere On A River

The Salt River forms on the Apache Indian Reservation in Graham County, in the Apache National Forest, then flows northeast to southwest through the Sierra Ancha Mountains into Tonto National Forest, and finally into the cities of Scottsdale and Tempe in Maricopa County. The headwaters are located above US Highway 60, just northeast of Globe and southwest of Pinetop-Lakeside near Chrysotile, though running the river above US Highway 60 is illegal.

The Salt River is free-flowing from its headwaters down to Theodore Roosevelt Lake, where the first of four hydroelectric generating dams are located. Customarily, the Salt is described as either the Upper Salt River (above Roosevelt Lake) or the Lower Salt River (below Roosevelt Lake). Class II to IV whitewater is the primary attraction to the Upper Salt, though the desert scenery rates a very close second for many people. Below Roosevelt Lake the river is flatwater with little current except during periods of dam release. Flow is controlled by releases from the four dams at the mouths of Roosevelt, Apache, Canyon and Saguaro Lakes.

Both sections offer spectacular Sonoran Desert topography that includes tall mountains, mountain valleys, Saguaro cactus, sagebrush, tumbleweeds, a wide variety of desert flowers that bloom for a few short weeks in the spring and a remoteness that escapes the hustle and bustle of nearby big city life. The Salt River generally has a short season from March through May, depending upon winter snowpack and spring rainfall.

Click the links below for information regarding the section of the Salt River and its tributaries where you want to paddle.

[ Upper Salt River ] [ Roosevelt Lake to Apache Lake ] [ Apache Lake to Canyon Lake ] [ Canyon Lake to Saguaro Lake ]
[ Saguaro Lake to Granite Reef Dam ] [ Big Bonito River ] [ Black River ] [ Canyon Creek ] [ Tonto Creek ]

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Copyright © 1997-2015, Marc W. McCord dba CobraGraphics. All rights reserved. Southwest Paddler, CobraGraphics and Canoeman River Guide Services are trademarks of Marc W. McCord dba CobraGraphics. The textual, graphic, audio, and audio/visual material in this site is protected by United States copyright law and international treaties. You may not copy, distribute, or use these materials except for your personal, non-commercial use. Any trademarks are the property of their respective owners. All original photographs on this web site are the exclusive property of Marc W. McCord or other designated photographers and may not be copied, duplicated, reproduced, distributed or used in any manner without prior written permission under penalty of US and International laws and treaties.