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.
- Begin early! Getting an early start will allow you to beat the families that like to post up along the rocky banks as well as any afternoon storms that will roll through.
- SunBlock – I personally prefer Alba Bontanica Hawaiian Suncreen Clear Spary, SPF 50
- Listen for speeding boats through the canyon. Most boats are respectful of slowing down so they don’t create rough waters for you. However, if they can’t see you then they will speed and the water can get very choppy. Keep an ear open at all times for your own safety.
- Keep an open mind. At the beginning of the adventure there is a lot of graffiti on the walls as well as some trash. Once you get deeper into the canyon, though, I promise it does get better!
- Drinking Water – DRINK PLENTY OF WATER while tubing. Drink at least 1-2 bottles of water per hour while floating to help prevent dehydration.
- The Canyon is deep, make sure your phone is in a floatable waterproof pouch.
- Electrolyte – I have found that the Nuun Powder Packets are the best for river trips. You can add them to your water and sip on it.
- Bring a Hat! It helps shield your face and head from the rays. And by mid-day it is a life-saver.
- Lightweight Microfiber-Towel – I love this for keeping my arms and legs cool when I don’t want to jump in. Just get it wet and lay it over my legs.
- Most importantly – Food to snack on through-out the day!
Photos from our Clear Creek Paddle