Kayak the Lower Salt River

Added by Laura Hill

The perfect way to spend time on the Lower Salt River!

It's not an Arizona summer without time spent on the Salt River!  And there's no better way than by kayak.  Summertime on the Lower Salt is full of people, mostly in tubes and on SUP's.  Getting on the river in the early hours of the morning help avoid some of the crowds.

The best launch point by far is from Saguaro Lake Guest Ranch.  Launching from here allows you to get spectacular views of the Bulldog Cliffs, along with a little rapid right at the beginning.  Note that if you don't rent your kayaks from the ranch, there is a fee for launching your own kayak (you also can't use the return shuttle service, so make sure you stage a car at your end point!).

If you decide to launch from any of the other recreation along the Lower Salt River, you'll need to buy an $8 Tonto Pass.

Launching from Water Users - this is where most of the tubers launch from, so you'll have company.  Parking also gets packed (which is why I really recommend Saguaro Lake Guest Ranch... it's just so much easier!).

Where to get out - Phon D Sutton is the best spot (remember, if you didn't rent from Saguaro Lake Guest Ranch, you'll need to have your car staged here)!  If you rent through the ranch, you have your own exit where the shuttle picks you up.

Season runs May through October.

Rapids are Class 1, but mostly suuuper easy going. 

Things to Bring:

  • PFD – it’s Arizona law (if you rent from the Ranch, they provide a PFD)
  • Hat or visor 
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Towel 
  • Dry bag 
  • Water (no glass!)
  • Snack

Launch from Saguaro Lake Guest Ranch (remember, either you rent or there's a launch fee): 33.562587,-111.534821

Launch from Water Users Recreation Area: 33.555518,-111.543833

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🥇Top Contributor

about 2 months ago

My Favorite Time To Paddle Is During A Full Moon

Every summer I get a group of friends together to paddle down the Salt River at night during the full moons. It's always an adventure and so much fun. We put glow sticks on our boats and paddles, especially the paddles, so you can find it if you drop it! Then we make our way down river and through the rapids. The highlight about every night trip I have done is getting to see the wild horses.

🥇Top Contributor

3 months ago

So Much FUN!!

We rented kayaks from Saguaro Lake Guest Ranch and launched from their site. Right in the beginning you get a little bit of adrenaline with very easy rapids, right at the base of the beautiful Bulldog Cliffs. This is, by far, the most scenic part of the trip, so take ALL the pics (but don't drop your phone in!). We brought lots of water and snacks, but I forgot my hat (will not make that mistake again) - so glad I had a full tube of sunscreen. Once you hit Water Users rec area, you're going to have a lot more company on the river. So, if possible, do the EARLIEST launch possible, which has you missing a good number of ppl... And if you're lucky, you might see the wild horses!

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