A spectacular steep creek through a spectacular box canyon. Christopher Creek is a tributary stream feeding Tonto Creek.
120 to 150 CFS is good here, but the only gauge serving this run is the Tonto Creek gauge some 50 miles downstream.
This creek didn't start getting attention until Bret Howard, Roy Lippman, Tyler Williams, Hut Wade and Mark Knight attempted it first in '05. Roy broke his leg on the 4th or 5th drop (a 10-footer into a shallow pool). Evan Stafford, Kyle McCutchen and Todd G completed the first descent shortly after. It has been on the radar of steep creekers, worldwide, ever since its opening and dramatic seasonal weather events.Put In: Christopher Creek Campground off the 260 about 21 miles east of Payson, AZ.
Do not put in or linger at the Scout Camp (It is private property).
Take Out: On Tonto Creek at Bear Flats (may require a 4 wheel drive) or hike out at Spring Creek back to you car on HWY 260.
Photos and Video can be found here:COKayaking: First Successful Descent Report excellent descriptions and photos.
Huckin Huge Films: 2Descent Christopher Creek
Huckin Huge Films: Risen Sun promo
The campground is about 1/4 mile down from the highway, so even if the gate is locked in the winter it is a fairly short walk to the creek.
Elevation: 5640 feet.
A scenic gorge that drops about 50 feet in half a mile.
Elevation: 5605 feet
The creek levels out past some sort of ranch on river right.
Elevation: 5562 feet.
Also knowns as Roy's, but that doesnt fit the Big Leboski theme.
Most people walk this thing, if you want to run it you better be skinny
Also known as triple drop
Best to scout and run from river right, very dense set of brambles above.
The last drop before the big boy
The dude abides
No doubt the sweetest drop in the canyon, it makes navigating the Dude worth it, just for this drop.
Spring Creek comes in from river right very close to the end of the Box Canyon. It is fairly short but steep hike up this drainage to highway 260.
Elevation: 5200 feet.
The drops after the Lil Lebowski are not runnable, despite what you may think. Begin a long and tricky portage puzzle, until the confluence of the tonto pretty much. It is called T dub, because well, team work will be mandatory
A stout slide with a tight slot, it used to get run all the time, but the last time we ran it, which as far as I know was the last decent, a rock had shifted, closing the exit of the slot, and turning it into a portage
Tonto Creek comes in from river right. Average gradient is 60 feet per mile from here to Bear Flat Campground.
Elevation: 5125 feet.
Private homes border the creek from here down to Bear Flat campground.
Elevation: 5000 feet.
A road fords the creek from left to right. The undeveloped campground is next to the road, on river right.
Elevation: 4960 feet.
This gauge is just a reference. There isn't a gauge on Christopher Creek, but if you see Tonto spike above 100 CFS, you will be able to get down the creek. A good flow for Christopher Creek is around 400 CFS on the Tonto Creek gauge (spiked).
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
Use the map below to calculate how
to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.
First boof of many
The Little Lebowski Urban Achievers
Boof, then get tight
First step of three
You're out of your element
Getting Locked In
If someone gets hurt on a river, or you read about a whitewater-related injury, please report it to
American Whitewater. Don't worry about multiple submissions from other witnesses, as our safety
editors will turn multiple witness reports into a single unified accident report.
Log into the American Whitewater website and you can contribute to river descriptions,
flow and access tips, and maps associated with runs you've done. You can even add new
runs to the inventory!