Phoenix and Flagstaff AZ Boating - Mountain Buzz

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Old 09-20-2016   #1
Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 2
Phoenix and Flagstaff AZ Boating

Hi all,

I am new to Phoenix from Ft Collins, CO and am looking for some folks who get out pretty often and would not mind giving me some leads or let me join them for a few trips. I have a particular interest in identifying a few key holes or waves for playboating; always game for river running as well!

Any input would be helpful, thank you!


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Old 09-21-2016   #2
lmyers's Avatar
Buena Vista, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 4,312
Pretty much nothing going for boating in AZ right now. As always, the Grand has water....

Fossil Creek is a super low flow plop and drop, and fairly fun. So that's probably your best bet for any semblance of whitewater right now.

Gila below Old Safford bridge and Verde above Horseshoe Reservoir do get floated at extremely low levels.

Otherwise your looking at flat water paddling right now.

Not sure about park and play options. The only one's of any quality that I am aware of are the waves created by the sloping red rock ledges on Oak Creek near Red Rock Crossing and the Winery outside Sedona.
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Old 09-21-2016   #3
Apache Junction, Arizona
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: Dec 2015
Posts: 116
I agree with what the previous post said. All the action here is in late winter early spring time on the Verde and the Upper Salt.
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Old 09-21-2016   #4
bobbuilds's Avatar
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I would like to add a few things to the comments as well. If you are in Phoenix you should have a few paddlers around you. There is a group of 5 or so that paddle fossil creek once a month as a way to get on the water.

The salt is just outside of town and during heavy rain it will spike all the way to ASU. There is a reservoir in town which backs up the salt but the salt itself out on the B line highway should have some 3- when it rains.

Monsoon season is crazy for big water fast, once you get to meet the locals they should be able to point out park and play in all the ditches in town, also there are a few creeks east of Phoenix that run with rain.

That said Harlan tanney lives out there and so does Cody ? They have run most everything in AZ and would be your best bet for all the beta. I hope you get to meet them. Good kayak shop in flag, premiered on MTV shacks.

New Mexico is not to far nor is Mexico Mexico. Have fun out there!!!
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Old 09-26-2016   #5
Bisters, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 403
The most enthusiastic kayaker I've met in PHX is Mike M. He works at REI (not sure which one, but someone there can tell you) and gets out a lot. He knows where the lower salt play features are & would be a good person to track down. Late winter is definitely the most reliable season in AZ...

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Old 09-26-2016   #6
Flagstaff, Arizona
Paddling Since: 93
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 166
Flagstaff boaters has a page on FB, not much going on right now. Mike M gets out a bunch, almost daily. Not too much going on here, but there is always water to be run if you don't mind low water.
I'm in Flagstaff.
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Old 09-28-2016   #7
Cave Creek, Arizona
Paddling Since: 2014
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 36

There is a surfable ripple on the lower Salt: you can google Coon Bluff. You will probably be disappointed being from Ft. Collins, but you'll be getting your boat on the water; its real close to the 202, and the water is warm. The little ripple is just downstream from the parking area; you can walk back to the parking area from there.

There is a better ripple just below Bartlett dam on the Verde. You have to paddle upstream and get out of your boat twice to get to it; pretty easy in the summertime. Pretty soon they will be shutting off the lower salt and releasing from Bartlett, which I understand makes a pretty decent play wave. You can also run from Bartlett dam 8 miles to Box Bar (after they start releasing); there are a couple Class II rapids and a few surfable waves. Heinous long shuttle, but its pretty and worth doing once, especially if you haven't been on desert riparian floats.

Paddling Arizona by Tyler Williams is probably the best beta resource; you can find it on Amazon for about $12.

Feel free to PM me; I get out as often I can, probably going below Bartlett this weekend. Cheers.
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Old 09-28-2016   #8
Apache Junction, Arizona
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: Dec 2015
Posts: 116
I go down the lower salt a few times every summer, it's nice to be on the water but don't get your hopes up too high. The best part is seeing the wild horses and the birds. Very relaxing float and easy to get to. It holds you over till February and March time.
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