River Rafting on the Lower Salt River Near Phoenix
Float down the Lower Salt River on our guided rafting trips and discover a scenic and relaxing desert oasis just outside Phoenix. Swim and water fight or just relax on the river and soak in the scenery ‐ our most family friendly activity has options to please everyone. A little paddling is required, but your guide will steer the boat and provide fascinating information about the surrounding Sonoran Desert.
A reliable source of water, the Salt River attracts a variety of wildlife, making it common for us to enjoy close encounters with animals in their natural habitat.
4-7 people: $150 pp
8 or more: $120 pp
For smaller groups please inquire*
- Activity duration: 2-3 hours
- Total duration: 3-3.5 hours
- We can schedule tours on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays
- Tours typically depart at 8am an 1pm*
Advance reservations are required.
- Professional safety-certified rafting guide
- Bottled water & snacks
- Raft, paddles, PFD (life jacket), dry bags
- Roundtrip Transportation
- National Forest entry fees
- Hotel/Residence Pick Up: $95 per group – inquire over the phone
- Private Tour: $150 per group. No other parties may add to your tour. We can schedule private tours any day of the week.
What to Bring
Clothing – Comfortable, weather appropriate athletic clothing – shorts and a t-shirt, bathing suit, on cooler mornings long sleeves are advised. We recommend bringing a dry change of clothes for after your rafting trip.
Water shoes/sandals/old sneakers – These must stay on your feet at all times – sport sandals only please. Flip flops or bare feet are not allowed.
Miscellaneous – Sunglasses, sunscreen, camera, lip balm, medications, hat, etc.
What to Expect
Once You’ve Booked a Tour…
You will receive a booking confirmation email with details on the time and date of your tour, where to meet, the cancellation policy, a receipt of your tour purchase, and requests from us if we need additional information. Inquire over the phone about meeting at our Mesa location.
On the Day of Your Tour…
Meet at our office in North Scottsdale a few minutes before your scheduled tour. You can expect to be with another group on your rafting tour unless you have booked a private tour.
Your rafting tour…
All of our regularly scheduled guided river rafting trips take place near Phoenix on the Lower Salt River in the Tonto National Forest. The Salt River is a scenic, Class I (the easiest rating on the international scale of river difficulty) and provides some of the best wildlife and bird watching opportunities in the Southwest. Water flow on each river varies seasonally, based on this we choose from a number of put‐in/take‐out locations in order to ensure our guests the best river rafting experience. Water temperatures are in the 60s in the winter and rise to low 80s in the summer months. Swimming is possible year‐round, but the water may be chilly in January!
Tours typically last about 4 hours, rafting tours are available on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings and commence at 7:30am at AOA’s office in North Scottsdale. AOA transports all equipment to and from the river and provides water and snacks for the duration of the tour. Sit back and enjoy the scenery as your guide points out features of interest in the surrounding landscape. Light paddling is required, but your experienced rafting guide will do most of the work!
All tours depart from the AOA office in north central Scottsdale and travel 35 minutes to our tour location just outside the eastern metro area. If you are staying in the east valley, please call our office if you would like to meet at an alternate location of greater convenience.
Reservations are required. Guest contact information and a valid credit card are required to hold a reservation.
The Desert and its Rivers
Rivers play a very important role in the complex environment of North America’s Sonoran Desert. Water is scarce in the desert and plants and animals have adapted to the harsh conditions that come with high summer temperatures and low average rainfall. Along the river corridors are delicate and unique ecosystems known as riparian zones. In these areas, lush trees such as desert willow and cottonwood take the place of the hardy saguaro cactus. The soft greenery and plentiful water attract many animals who make their homes here including beavers, otters, loons, eagles, turkey vultures and on Arizona’s lower Salt River, even wild horses.
The Salt River flows from its headwaters in the White Mountains of Eastern Arizona and rushes along through the high elevations until it winds its way to the lower arid desert outside of Phoenix. Here the riparian ecosystem created by the mellow flow of the Salt is an indispensable oasis, home to many plant and animal species, and a perennial slash of green across the dry brown of the surrounding landscape.
Over four million people who live in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area depend on the Salt River for energy generated by a series of hydroelectric dams managed by the Salt River Project. The reservoirs created by those dams are in turn a source of life for the creatures that live in the surrounding environment, mule deer, wildcats, desert cottontail rabbits, and many others. The flow of water past the dams varies depending on the season and recent precipitation within the Salt River watershed. On AOA’s guided river tours our expert guides will share their stories of the river and educate you about the delicate ecosystems that occur within riparian zones in the desert. Keep alert when floating along, rafting and kayaking on the Lower Salt River are wonderful ways to see the Sonoran desert from a new perspective.
Temperature and Climate:
Advance reservations are required and can only be confirmed with receipt of guest contact information and a valid credit card. Final payment is due in advance of the tour. Guide gratuities are optional, but are appreciated.
There is no charge for cancellations made more than 48 hours before departure time. Cancellations made less than 48 hours from departure time will be charged in full.
Photos of the Half-day Rafting Tour
Planning for your Trip
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AOA operates guided Lower Salt River tours in cooperation with and under permit of our sister company Desert Voyagers in the Tonto National Forest.