We were part of a group with a Salt permit for a put-in on March 20. We received this email on 2/16/16 from Don Sullivan, the USFS River Manager for the Salt. It has some timely advice in response to this posting:
"Greetings from depressingly warm and sunny Arizona:
You are receiving this email because you applied for a permit to boat through the Salt River Canyon Wilderness in 2016. If you wish to be removed from the distribution list for Salt River Updates emails please respond with something like ‘Stop It’ or ‘Enough’ in the subject line.
If you are one of the people trying to get a cancellation permit, you know that Kinsail is having issues with the site. They are working to resolve them and get it up and running. My apologies.
I guess I would sum up our current snow pack conditions in the Salt River Basin as “even worse than last year”. On top of that, we are being baked by a high pressure ridge and it is 15 degrees above normal temperatures here. The river seems to be running off right now and is at 1300 cfs today. If you can, I would recommend running it ASAP, in February, while there is some water and you don’t need a Forest Service permit. Last year it peaked for the season at 697 cfs on March 5th and was between 350 and 550 for most of March. I would anticipate similar conditions this year. And yes, I do hold you people in Colorado and on the eastern seaboard responsible for stealing our snow.
Here is my rating system for the Salt:
· Above 8,000 cfs – Scary
· 1,200 cfs and up - Fun
· 900 to 1200 cfs – Do-able
· 600 to 900 cfs – Tough
· 300 to 600 cfs – Ugly
· 300 cfs and down – Brutal
Unless El Nino kicks back in with a bunch of storms, I would anticipate a tough and ugly March followed by a brutal April. Here are some websites if you want to follow along:
The website for snotel data is: NRCS National Water and Climate Center | SNOTEL Data & Products
For the Salt River, click on the Interactive Map, then click on Snow Water Equivalent, Current, Records, on the map page, drag Arizona to the center of the screen, click on the plus-sign three times to enlarge the map, drag Arizona to the center again, click on the southernmost black circle in Arizona for Hannagan Meadows, click on the link for 7-day Hourly Table, you may have to unclick the “Fit Table to Screen” box, and scroll to the bottom of the table. Simple, no? Right now at Hannagan Meadows the snotel has 5.5 inches of snow water equivalent (swe). If it was 12 or 15 March and April would be fun.
The website for current streamflow data in Arizona is: USGS Current Conditions for Arizona_ Streamflow
Scroll down to the Salt River Basin. The put-in is “Salt River Near Chrysotile” and the take-out is “Salt River Near Roosevelt”.
If you want someone smarter than me to predict the river level, this is the website for the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center: Conditions Map
Click on the blue dot for “SLC: Salt, Chrysotile, NR” and view the forecast. Click on the forecast if you wish to change the parameters of the prediction.
I usually look at the weather forecast for the coming week on this webpage right before I leave town: http://www.weather.com/maps/planner
On a pleasant note, we have a new Salt and Verde river ranger, Monica Morin. Monica has been a Wilderness ranger for quite a while now in Denali so she is not new to the game. Say hi if you see her out there.
Call my cell if you have questions. Hopefully I don’t answer because I am boating…"
Don R. Sullivan
Wilderness River Manager
Tonto National Forest, Globe Ranger District
c: 928-595-1647 (not text enabled)
7680 S. Six Shooter Cyn. Rd.
Globe, AZ 85501
US Forest Service
Caring for the land and serving people