WW in AZ - Mountain Buzz

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Old 04-25-2018   #1
Sierra Vista, Arizona
Paddling Since: 2018
Join Date: Apr 2018
Posts: 2
WW in AZ


I'm new to white water rand recently moved to Arizona. Yes I know not the greatest state for white water but hey at least its sunny year round. I'm trying to see if I can find some locals who would be willing to take a newbie or two with them to learn. I did the lower salt this past weekend with a group and went through pinball which was nice.

Kayak: Liquid Logic Remix 69.

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Old 04-26-2018   #2
lmyers's Avatar
Buena Vista, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 4,811
Lol, I don't think "Pinball" on the lower Salt qualifies as whitewater.... but hey, you have to start somewhere!

Unfortunately you chose one of the worst seasons on record to move to Arizona for boating. Last winter was a different story with a very healthy runoff in February and March..... and then you can get good flows in Monsoon season as well, but they are generally isolated, short lived events. The main drainages in the state are the Gila, Salt, Verde and Colorado. There are some mellow floats on the Verde at low flow above the Beasley Flats access that would probably be your speed.

There is a fairly healthy whitewater community in Arizona, mostly based out of the Flagstaff/Sedona/Camp Verde/Phoenix corridor, and there are a few of them that frequent this forum. I would suggest hooking up with a group like the Southern Arizona Paddlers Club and going from there. Here is a link to their website:

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Good luck!
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Old 04-26-2018   #3
Sierra Vista, Arizona
Paddling Since: 2018
Join Date: Apr 2018
Posts: 2
I'm actually in that group already. ive noticed people like to go out at 8am but I live three hours south of phoenix and the earliest I can make it up there is 10 am unless I drive up the night before. ill post in there asking. with monsoon season starting soon it cant be a bad time to find some people who seek the thrill of WW
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Old 04-26-2018   #4
lmyers's Avatar
Buena Vista, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 4,811
Gene (Dead Lizard on here) lives in the Phoenix area and has a pretty cool website with lots of information on floats in your area. In particular he has beta on stretches of the Gila you can't find information on anywhere else. Hopefully he chimes in here.


I was down there last season at peak runoff and hit the Salt Daily, Beasley to Gap Creek on the Verde, lower Tonto and Oak Creek from Sedona to Red Rock Crossing. All are class III with a little splash of IV at high water.

There is a Facebook group called Arizona Monsoon Warriors, but it doesn't seem to get much traffic. Again, best of luck.
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Old 04-26-2018   #5
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Join Date: May 2007
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Lmyers is spot on with all the big drainages down there for sure and while it might seem like class 3, fossil creek is glorified sledding and we’ve all been sledding right? So much fun!!

Drive up on the weekend, camp, hike in or just practice your rolls in the deep green pools!

There is enough water in the creek to squirt a playboat and do bow stalls and stuff. A few no consequence really drops that can be made fun with a friend looking on. Water is warm not that it matters this time of year. Just wanted to add one more to the list. And see if you can get a copy of SBSR online, it has a few rivers in it.

White water of the southern Rockies aka SBSR

Tyler burns I believe has an AZ guide also, it opened my eyes to lakes and flat water sections that get overlooked.
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Old 04-26-2018   #6
Cave Creek, Arizona
Paddling Since: 2014
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 61
You actually have a great continuous class 1 run not too far for you: The Gila above Winkleman: dam release should run most of the summer for the cotton fields. Nothing as burly as "pinball" on the lower salt though, lol. Bulldog rapid on the lower salt as I know it, changed a bit: now 50% of the walmart kayaks wipe out there, up from say 40% last year.

Once you master the lower Gila and lower Salt, you'll be ready to do some sledding on Fossil as Bob said.
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Old 04-28-2018   #7
Tucson, Arizona
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 26
i live in Tucson, and i have resorted to travelling out of state for boating. like everyone said, this was a bad year for water. hopefully it will be better next year, i would really like to get out on the salt, oak creek, and the verde.
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Old 04-30-2018   #8
Bisters, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 421
Paddling Arizona by Tyler Williams is the book for AZ boating ideas. The Verde river is by far the best resource for whitewater in the state outside of Grand Canyon. Keep an eye on the Gila river in August if the monsoon ramps up this summer...
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Old 04-30-2018   #9
Apache Junction, Arizona
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: Dec 2015
Posts: 224
Not a lot of options at the moment besides running the lower salt. I always call Pinball, Monstro. I take some scout groups down every summer and I like to get them worked up before hand and tell them its a small waterfall and that they need to make sure there life jackets are on tight. It did change a little bit at the end of last summer. A lot of dirt washed in narrowing the channel. It made it a little bit more exciting.

The Gila box is runnable down to pretty low levels. I ran it at 100cfs this year. The Verde from white bridge down to Beasley is runnable down to 50cfs I have heard but I have never run it that low.

The day trip on the upper salt I have run in a mini me raft at 260 cfs and its pretty bonny. If you want to do a day run next year when its running, I would go with you.

Of course the Grand Canyon is always running, you just need to pick up one of those permits and you can go anytime.
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