Salt River - Upper Salt Daily



The most popular stretch of whitewater in Arizona, and the only commercial run in the state outside of the Grand Canyon.  The one-day stretch of the Upper Salt, from Highway 60 to the Hoodoo takeout, combines excellent rapids with beautiful desert scenery in a spectacular canyon setting.  The river is located on Apache land, and a $25 permit is required from the White Mountain Apache tribe (and they do send out enforcement agents from time to time).  There may be a kiosk on site, or you can purchase from the website at

Most people put at the large pool above Kiss and Tell Rapid.  If you want to start your trip off with a bang, you can turn left to drive under the bridge, and put in at Baptism Rapid.  This will give you two extra rapids to run through on your way to the traditional start point.  From Kiss and Tell Rapid, the river does a big horseshoe around Mule Hoof Bend.  The greatest concentration of rapids are found in this stretch, with one nice Class III rapid after another. Most of the rapids in this stretch are straightforward, but look out for lateral waves coming in from the left at Maytag, and stick to the right at Grumman rapid to avoid a large hole near the top of the rapid.  At Overboard rapid, there are some big rocks on the right that have some pin potential, but nothing too tricky.

The pace of the rapids become a little less frequent after Overboard, and soon you will find yourself passing 2nd campground.  This is a good spot to pull off for lunch.  After lunch, you'll have a blast in the big waves of Exhibition Rapid, before coming to Cibeque.  If you want to do a shortened trip (or if the road hasn't fully opened yet) there are good spots at Cibeque to stash a car.

Below Cibeque, its more of the same straightforward Class II and II rapids, with long stretches of relatively calm river between.  The main highlight of this section is Mescal Falls, a Class IV drop with some big waves and holes.  You can sneak this rapid on the right at certain levels.  Just below Mescal is the pull out for Hoodoo.  Unless you plan to continue on the multi-day run, this is your exit spot.

Note that the minimum flow listed here is for packrafts and inflatable kayaks.  Bigger boats will probably want to treat 500 CFS as the minimum.  River season generally runs from January to April, but its also worth monitoring the gauge during monsoons in the summer.


Chris Ramias
Class III to IV
Current Flow 269.0 CFS
06-07-2023 12:30
Recommended Flow Minimum: 200.0
Average: 700.0
Maximum: 3000.0
Typical Season Begins: January
Ends: April
Recommended Use Kayaking: Yes
Rafting: Yes
Canoeing: No
Packrafting: No
Fishing: No
Length 8.0 Mile(s)
Gradient 35.0 FPM