Salt River Season Suspended (AZ)
The Salt River lottery for the 2021 river season has been suspended due to COVID-19 mitigation measures put in place by the White Mountain Apache Tribe. The Salt River Canyon Wilderness permit application did not open this season and you will find an alert message on the application page announcing the lottery suspension. The White Mountain Apache Tribe (WMAT) manages the Salt River jointly with the Tonto National Forest and WMAT owns the put-in for the Wilderness run and 29-miles downstream on river right. It is thus not possible to access the river without crossing Tribal Lands which are currently closed to the public. If WMAT Tribal Lands reopen to the public then an announcement will be made initiating a first come first serve permit process. This will be announced on Recreation.gov, through the Salt River listserv, and on American Whitewater’s website.
The Tonto National Forest has a close relationship with WMAT and the Forest Service is supporting WMAT in their decision to close their recreation areas to the public. It is important to note that all WMAT recreation areas are closed to the public and this closure is not specific to paddling on the Salt River. Although the WMAT website states that fishing and camping is now open to non-tribal members, their website has not been updated since before Labor Day and well before the fall and winter COVID-19 surge. Similar to other Tribes, the WMAT has been hard hit by COVID-19 at a disproportionate rate compared to other populations in the U.S. American Whitewater sends our condolences to those who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and we ask that paddlers respect the current river suspension. We sincerely hope that the COVID-19 situation improves and that there will still be an opportunity for paddlers to enjoy the beauty of the Salt River Canyon Wilderness this year. American Whitewater will promptly share any updates that we have on the situation.
Photo Credit: Jonathan Snodgrass