Tubing the Salt River

13700167_10154340218167838_6609258900460898571_nThis weekend we went tubing on the Salt River. The Yavapai Nation call the river Hakanyacha. It is almost 200 miles long, flowing east to west. The Salt River forms the boundary between the Fort Apache Indian Reservation and the San Carlos Apache Reservation.

13718703_10154340215357838_2861906586534236241_nThe Roosevelt Dam creates Roosevelt Lake, and generates power for the region. More dams along the river create Apache lake, Canyon Lake and saguaro Lake. These are all part of the Salt River Project (SRP). Most of the electricity in the Valley is generated by these hydroelectric dams.

The Salt river continues to Phoenix, where the water is diverted to two canal systems. Below the diversion dam the Salt River is a dry creek bed, having water only during Monsoon in late August.

There are several stops along the Salt River, below Saguaro Lake, to tube. All have parking facilities, picnic facilities and restrooms.

We had a group of five, Liz, Mike, Kimberly and her girlfriend Denise. We took two vehicles – for reasons that will soon become apparent. We parked Liz’s Subaru at the Phon D Sutton stop, or stop #5.  Stop #6 is reserved for people that take the buses. We then hopped into Denise’s truck and drove to stop #1. We inflated our tubes – 7 tubes in all.  One tube for each person, and two for the coolers filed with beer (of course) and water and sandwiches.  We tied all of the tubes together into a circle, and then set off.

13716231_10154340215752838_7386475048084725412_nThe Salt River is not very deep along this route. However, it seems that people do drown on a regular basis. For most of the nearly ten-mile float we drifted with the current. There are several rapids, and you have to be aware of the rocks jutting up in the middle of the river.  There are areas where the river bottom is only inches below your bottom.

13775966_10154340218537838_3084790337278493789_nThere is the marshmallow game – there are marshmallows floating in the river that you are supposed to gather up and then hurl at people on other tubes. People have water guns. Mike brought along his waterproof WiFi speaker, so we had tunes – Kim had her Creedence Clearwater Revival channel tuned in to her phone.

Besides the tubes, people had huge floatables that could hold ten or more. There were kayaks. The scenery was awesome, giant Saguaros along the river banks, wild horses drinking at the waters edge.

There were a lot of dragonflies, blue dragonfly landed on my wrist. I bought a waterproof case for my cellphone so that I could take photos. It worked great. Liz had the same case for her phone, hers leaked and destroyed her phone. My battery died out before we saw the wild horses.

There are hundreds of wild horses along the Salt River. These horses are descended from horses brought over by the Spanish in the 1600’s. We saw at least two dozen horses.

We floated for almost six hours. Next year we will invest in a giant floatable, and by this time next year I am sure that Liz and I will have a pair of kayaks. Add “tubing” to our annual “do list”, along with the Renaissance Festival in March, and the Rodeo in October.


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