A wonderful multiday run on the Upper Salt, from the Salt River Canyon Bridge on Highway 60 to Lake Roosevelt. See the Route 60 to Roosevelt Reservoir description. There is 60 miles of bouncing whitewater in a spectacular Sonoran Desert canyon. For gear-hauling rafts, a minimum flow is 1,200. The infamous rapid Quartzite is a solid class IV at most levels, but without the class V consequences that existed at high flows before it was illegally blasted.
A Wilderness permit is required from March 1st to May 15th. Normally a 3 or 4 day trip, the controlled wilderness section begins 20 miles downstream from Highway 60. If you don't have several days to spend and a permit, see the daily run description.
started on Salt at 800 on 3/6/20. Ran the first five miles and it 4 hours in rafts both gear and paddle rafts. It is just too bony down to camp 2. If its this low save your energy and ask your shuttle driver ahead of time to start you out at camp 2. This is where all the guides live during the season.
Once past this point the rocks are not near as bad and you can make it the rest of the way to the take out without too much incident. Remember between 800 to 1000 start at camp five if you are bringing bigger rafts.
At this level the line through the maze was weaving through on the left and then to the right wall for the run out rapid.
Also Black Rock was an easy run with simply scouting right staying right down the v wave train and then 3 feet off the fin in the middle to the right.
Quartizite was much harder at this level then it looked like at other levels and on U tube. The only move is on the right the left is all rock. There is a very tight squeeze and right after the squeeze a large rock is in the way. We had one boat pinned on this for quite a while before help came to the rescue. A paddle boat with multiple guys to push a 14 foot boat filled with water off the rock. Nothing was lost or broker but the rock is sticky and two other boats also almost got stuck there. At higher water it would have been easier.
Also eye of the needle and quartzite claimed oars on our 15 foot raft and 14 foot cataraft. The problem is our boats were too wide and when we pulled the oars straight in they still stuck out and in Quartzite this broke the oar while flipping the 15 foot raft. And in eye of the needle the same without flipping the boar. Bring your oars all the way forward or in all the way back to avoid this.
After corkscrew the river picks up and it really is easy to make time if you need to get out. There is no scouting just beautiful views.
Relatively new to boating, I finally got to run the entire wilderness section. We ran in self-support duckies around 5,000 cfs. This was a trip where we set out to explore and push our personal limits as class III boaters. The river was big and powerful, off course, but surprisingly forgiving, I thought, based on my day-run experience on the Salt at 2000 or less flows. The hydraulics, boils, and horizontal recirculations in the gorge areas were very tricky and tended to turn unwary kayakers. Scouting the named rapids proved to be invaluable. I did not swim once in my AIRE Outfitter II, and my friends paddling loaded Tomcat I's and an out-of-balanced AIRE Force only swam five times each, with several of those swims being nothing more than unforced errors. They all had great "IK Rolls," (self-rescue and recovery on the fly)and were back in there boats and paddling even after getting hammered in the big waves of Black Rock and Corkscrew. Their slim bodies, strength-to-weight ratio, and their physical condition was key. I do not recommend this river at this level to anyone without a roll. Having to chase a swimmer and his boat down the river in the gorge sections would have put a damper on the trip for everyone.
Being in kayaks gave us one advantage over a raft: we were able to scout big rapids much closer, giving us the ability to portage if necessary. Black Rock and The Maze have class III kayak sneaks on the left.
This was an awesome, bucket-list trip for me!
3 months ago
by Kestrel Kunz
Also check out the Roosevelt gage for conditions near the takeout.
Flows: The ÂSalt SeasonÂ occurs when the snow melts in the White Mountains of southeastern Arizona, usually beginning in March and ending in May. Sometimes good flows occur in February or last until June, but this only happens every 10 years or so. Adequate flows may also occur during Monsoon Season in July and August. For kayakers who just want to go downstream, 300 CFS is a minimum. For surfathon fun, 800 is a bare minimum, and 2,000-3,000 is optimal. For gear-hauling rafts, a minimum flow is 1,200.
The river has been run up to 28,000 cfs in 2 days but most sane boaters make 10K a cut off.
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Josh Copelan, Cat Tobin
Jesse Mogler, Josh Copelan, Sam Verutti
springtime on the Salt
early spring on the river
How to use a groover
Oar rigging Quartzite Falls
Surfing a raft at the Ledges
Rafting Quartzite Falls
Open Canoe in Quartzite
Salt River put in
Quartzite from below
Brad running the left of Black Rock
Salt River Arizona
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The Tonto National Forest is revising their forest-wide Management Plan for the first time since 1985. On December 13, 2019 they officially released the Draft Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Assessment (DEIS) for a 90-day comment period ending on March 12, 2020. Forest Plans are vitally important as they are the blueprint for resource management and they provide an opportunity to secure better protections for rivers and their surrounding landscapes. As part of the plan revision process, the Forest Service is required to rely on public input to inform management direction, plan components, and new designated areas. Read on to hear about the public meetings that are happening this week!
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