When you think of Winslow, Arizona I am sure the famous note “standing on the corner of Winslow Arizona…” from the song “Take It Easy” famously recorded by the Eagles, comes to mind. I bet you would never know that one of the best paddles in Arizona, is just 5 miles southeast of the town of Winslow.

Clear Creek Reservoir is located in the town of Winslow, Arizona, which is in Navajo County Clear Creek drains the Mogollon Rim area of the state of Arizona. It flows through the Navajo Nation to Clear Creek Reservoir in Winslow, Arizona, and then to its confluence with the Little Colorado River. East Clear Creek is a tributary. Dammed in the 1930s, the reservoir and canyon afford various recreational opportunities, including fishing, swimming, boating, cliff diving, and rock climbing.

This trip has become one of our favorite paddles. Clear Creek Reservoir adventure begins at McHood Park. A small city park that sits right on the edge of the water- you do have to pay the $7 daily fee at the Kiosk. *National Parks pass and other annual passes can be used here.

McHood Park has picnic tables with Ramada’s as well as trash cans, and public bathrooms. The area is not well cared for, but don’t let that sway your mind about this adventure. Once you’re out on the water and paddle further into the canyon, it all becomes worth it.

Around the 2 mile mark, just before the only man made structure, on the north cliff, you will also find some well preserved petroglyphs. You can copy the approximate GPS coordinates below for the petroglyphs so you don’t miss them! 34.95045, -110.65604

A little past the petroglyphs you will come up to a several large rock walls and concrete foundations can be seen. Those ruins are the remains of an old pump station that once delivered water to the Santa Fe Railroad yard and the town 5 miles away.

As you move upstream, the fluted sandstone walls slowly rise around you forming a beautiful, deep canyon. Depending on water level, this indicates that you are getting close to the end of the reservoir. Still waters give way to a slight current and riparian vegetation begins to crowd in. How far you can travel down the canyon will depend upon the water level. The higher the water, the further you’ll be able to go. The views kept getting better and better the deeper you paddle.

My suggestion is to continue paddling until the end, there is an oasis that is a beautiful surprise. And the channel becomes a canyon bound stream, alternating between pools and riffles. It can be difficult to continue paddling beyond this point. It’s possible to continue hiking upstream, although portions of stream fill the canyon and require swimming. 

Tips for your adventure.

Even though the water may seem cool, the Arizona sun can be brutal and has no remorse. So my suggestion is be prepared before you go. Some items you don’t wan’t to leave behind. 

Photos from our Clear Creek Paddle

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