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Explore Arizona's Lower Salt River

A native to Arizona, one of our most frequently visited places as a child, the lower Salt River. Just East of Phoenix, Arizona, you'll find yourself at the Lower Salt River in beautiful Tonto National Forest near Mesa, Arizona! The Lower Salt River is a recreational paradise that offers an all-day adventure while floating on cool and refreshing mountain-stream waters. You have the option to Paddleboard, Kayak, or you rent Tubes from Salt River Recreation.

Enjoy a "floating picnic" and experience the natural wonders of the Salt River! You may choose two, three, and five-hour trips that include float time and shuttle ride, weather and water flow permitting. An added excitement is the chance to see the famous wild salt river horses, bald eagles, river otters, and even beavers. 

Be Prepared before you go!

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. 

    • SunBlock - I personally prefer Alba Bontanica Hawaiian Suncreen Clear Spary, SPF 50
    • Drinking Water - DRINK PLENTY OF WATER while tubing. Drink at least 1-2 bottles of water per hour while floating to help prevent dehydration.
    • 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.
    • TENNIS SHOES or other protective footwear are needed to protect against cuts, scrapes, and bruises while walking to/from the Salt River’s entry and exit points. Shoes will help protect your feet from the River’s rocky bottom.
    • Most importantly - Food to snack on through-out the day!

If you are bringing children the Salt River Recreation recommends: 

  • CHILDREN must be at least eight (8) years or older AND 4 feet tall for tube rental & shuttle bus service at SRTR.
  • If a child does not meet BOTH of these requirements, SRTR does not rent tubes or provide transportation to ANYONE in the group. NO EXCEPTIONS ARE PERMITTED TO THIS POLICY!
  • LIFE VESTS are recommended for Children, ALL NON-SWIMMERS, inexperienced swimmers and ANY swimmer who questions whether He/She needs a life vest!

Salt River Etiquette. . .

LEAVE NO TRACE- “Stash it and Bag it” in litter bags. Dump all trash in designated receptacles at Bus Stops.  Help keep Salt River clean and beautiful!

GLASS CONTAINERS are NOT ALLOWED at Salt River Tubing or the Lower Salt River Recreational Area.

ALWAYS keep a safe distance from wildlife. No matter what. No matter how cute and cuddly or tame and calm an animal looks, do not ever approach it. We can't stress this enough. 

Need to know! 

To start your trip if you plan on Paddle-boarding or Kayaking you want to make sure you have a shuttle lined up. What that means, you will leave a vehicle where you finish and where you start - just take my advice and don't leave your keys in either of the vehicles, keep them with you in a dry safe place. 

It is up to your were you want start and finish.There are a number of places you can launch from. I’ve listed them in order, starting at the furthest upstream put-in. You can park at the following lots:

Water Users Recreation Site (most common starting spot)

Blue Point Recreation Site (known as the *north parking lot of bridge)

Phon D Sutton Recreation Site (exit option 1)

- Upon exiting you will stay to the far left of the river do NOT go to the right. There are no signs indicating exit. Usually there are many people BBQ and hanging out, before the river turns to the right, you will see the exit. 

Granite Reef Recreation Site (exit option 2 - must exit)

-This one is tricky too, you will see the exit to the left hidden in the brush. You'll begin to see the dam, exit is approx. 1 mile from the dam. If you pass this exit, don't panic, paddle your way back up river stay along the south of the bankside and you'll see the exit. 

You also want to make sure to check the flow of the river. Click here to see the current water flow.

You can rent paddle-boards from No Snow which allows you to transport them yourself within your time range. 

No Snow Stand Up Paddle board shop is located in Mesa, Arizona 3654 N Power Rd Suite #104 Mesa, Arizona 85215 (click address for map link)  


You will encounter six river points:

Water Users Recreation Site (most common starting spot)

Blue Point Recreation Site (known as the *north parking lot of bridge)

Pebble Beach Recreation Site (known as the *south parking lot of bridge - not listed on map)

Goldfield Recreation Site

Coon Bluff Recreation Site

Phon D Sutton Recreation Site

Granite Reef Recreation Site

All of these sites have picnic areas, restrooms, hiking trails, and access to the river.  If you plan to get out of your car to explore, you will need a Tonto Pass which you can purchase in many of these recreational sites.

Does the America the Beautiful Pass/Interagency Pass work?

The America the Beautiful annual pass is indeed accepted at all the Lower Salt River recreation sites.

Lower Salt River Google Map (Click here)

Now enjoy the Lower Salt River!

The scenery along the Lower Salt River is astonishing. Sometimes, it is hard to realize that you are floating through the heart of the Sonoran Desert. This reach of the Salt River flows through Tonto National Forest's southern edge and the Salt River Indian Reservation near Fort McDowell. Get more information about the Salt River at Arizona Adventure Group 

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