Christopher Creek - 01. Box Canyon

Christopher Creek, Arizona, US


01. Box Canyon

Usual Difficulty none (for normal flows)
Length 5.4 Miles
Avg. Gradient 126 fpm
Max Gradient 350 fpm

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-09499000 100 - 1000 cfs none 02h10m 0 cfs (too low)

River Description

A spectacular steep creek through a spectacular box canyon. 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 d shortly after. It has been on the radar of steep creekers, worldwide, ever since its opening and dramatic spring events.

Put InChristopher 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 the 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


StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2017-07-15 03:16:09


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0Christopher Creek CampgroundN/APutin
0.6Mini GorgeIII
1.4Start of Box CanyonV
2.0Spring CreekN/AAccess
2.6Tonto Creek ConfluenceN/A
4.3Bear Flat SubdivisionN/A
5.4Bear Flat CampgroundN/ATakeout

Rapid Descriptions

Christopher Creek Campground (Class N/A)

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.

Mini Gorge (Class III, Mile 0.6)

A scenic gorge that drops about 50 feet in half a mile.

Elevation: 5605 feet

Ranch (Class N/A, Mile 0.9)

The creek levels out past some sort of ranch on river right.

Elevation: 5562 feet.

Start of Box Canyon (Class V, Mile 1.4)

The excitement really starts here.  The creek drops 310 feet in the next 6/10s of a mile.

Elevation: 5510 ft.

Spring Creek (Class N/A, Mile 2.0)

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.

Tonto Creek Confluence (Class N/A, Mile 2.6)

Tonto Creek comes in from river right.  Average gradient is 60 feet per mile from here to Bear Flat Campground.

Elevation: 5125 feet.

Bear Flat Subdivision (Class N/A, Mile 4.3)

Private homes border the creek from here down to Bear Flat campground.

Elevation: 5000 feet.

Bear Flat Campground (Class N/A, Mile 5.4)

A road fords the creek from left to right.  The undeveloped campground is next to the road, on river right. 

Elevation: 4960 feet.

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