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Kayaking the Salt River with Arizona Outback Adventures

During my visit to Arizona, I was able to take a half-day guided kayak tour on the Lower Salt River with Arizona Outback Adventures (AOA).

Kayaking the salt river:

Kayaking the salt river

What to Expect:

Initially, I wasn’t sure what to expect! I hadn’t been out on the water in a kayak in ages, so I didn’t know how I would manage kayaking the salt river.

If you are familiar with some of my travel misadventures, you can probably appreciate my concern! In the back of my mind, I had pictured myself accidentally signing up for an advanced tour, going down white water rapids and getting a stray tree branch to the head or flipping upside-down — something that would probably happen to me! (lol).


Kayaking the salt river

Thankfully, the Lower Salt River is only a class I rapids, which is the most gentle rating (so no misadventure in this post – sorry to disappoint!) The river actually runs through the Tonto National Forest, which is a beautiful natural habitat to wild horses and a magnitude of birds!

Kayaking the salt river

I take kayaking very seriously!

I was pleasantly surprised with how how easy the inflatable kayak was to maneuver. Considering I have only kayaked a handful of times, I felt I could actually let down my guard and truly relax and enjoy the afternoon.

So, here is how it went..

Picture yourself floating down a scenic, slow-paced river. There are gorgeous mountain views around you, the sun is warming you ever so gently and a soft breeze tickles your face. You see a man fishing from the riverbank and he waves to you.

Kayaking the salt river

Suddenly a huge bird swoops down to your right — its a heron! You were really hoping to see a bald eagle, but you suppose the heron was pretty darn cool. Eventually, as you gaze around and glance up, you realize a bald eagle has been soaring over top of you this entire time!

Kayaking the salt river

Feeling happy and relaxed! We just saw a bald eagle!

This was actually how my afternoon went! I had never seen a heron or bald eagle before and was so excited! I just wished I had my DSLR camera to snap better photos of the birds (though probably better I didn’t; with my luck I would have dropped it in the water).

Kayaking the salt river

What to Wear:

I would recommend wearing comfortable, athletic clothing (i.e. running shorts or crops and a t-shirt or tank top), water shoes or strap-on sandals (AOA requires you to wear footwear at all times) and have some form of sun protection (i.e. hat or light jacket).

It was warm enough when I went in March to not require this pink jacket, but I had it only mainly for the light breeze and to protect from the sun. I wore white denim shorts (not recommended) and another lady on my tour wore denim jeans (also not recommended) – you will end up with a wet butt and wet denim is just not a good scene.

What to Bring:

Definitely bring sunscreen! AOA provides water and snacks but if you need more than 1 or 2 500ml bottles of H2O over a few hours or prefer not to use plastic bottles, then bring your own larger bottle of water. I did the afternoon tour and would have been hungry if I didn’t have lunch, so definitely fuel up before your tour — you will be working up a hunger!

Towards the end of the day, there is the opportunity to pull up to a riverbank to eat your snack (and in my case, take photos!). I have a GoPro 5 which is waterproof so if you do have a waterproof camera, definitely bring it along! If you want to bring your phone or non-waterproof camera or any other valuables, AOA does provide dry bags but I would say do so at your own risk incase you drop it into the water! Otherwise you can leave items in their locked van. I would also bring a towel and leave it in the van in case you do get wet on the river.

Kayaking the salt river

Overall, I had such a great day on the water and would highly recommend this tour with AOA if you end up in Arizona yourself! Though for obvious reasons (which seemed to evade me at the time), I definitely don’t recommend wearing white shorts! 😉

Want to hit the water independently? Visit Night Born Travel for more info on ways to experience the Lower Salt River.

Would you try kayaking on the Lower Salt River?!

Let me know in the comments below! 

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Kayaking the salt river

This post was sponsored.

A big thank you to Arizona Outback Adventures for hosting me on this tour!

As always, I only recommend travel experiences I have personally tried and enjoyed! 

What are your thoughts?

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Yvette Benhamou said:
Sounds like a gorgeous afternoon. We saw one of the California condors when we were passing through Arizona and felt similarly lucky. Wise tip on the denim as well.
March 23, 2018 at 12:37 am
Christina said:
What a great adventure! If I'm ever in Arizona this will be on mt to-do list. :)
March 22, 2018 at 5:27 am
Aimee horgan said:
My partner absolutely loves kayaking, me it depends what mood I'm in lol. I so want to visit Arizona though, so I'm sure we could come to a compromise. Will be showing him this post this evening.
March 22, 2018 at 3:13 am
Richa said:
I love Kayaking too! I try to squeeze in Kayaking (or Whitewater rafting) in my outdoor trip as much as possible. Making a note of this place, it looks gorgeous :)
March 21, 2018 at 11:36 pm
Josy A said:
This looks brilliant! You really did have the perfect weather for kayaking! Was that water as warm as it looks, or were your feet actually starting to freeze in that last photo!? :D
March 21, 2018 at 8:00 pm
Amanda said:
This sounds amazing! I'm totally about to look into it since I'll be in Arizona in the next week or so!
March 21, 2018 at 7:56 pm
Mateja said:
Seems you had such a relaxing and enjoying day :) Such beautiful landscape and images as well! Could you swim in river during summer months?
March 21, 2018 at 7:38 pm
Ana @ Jaunting Trips said:
Nice fun experience. I am terrified with water and electronics. I'd rather not bring them, but then regret that I don't have my top gear in terms of shooting. I would probably have to fish them from the bottom of the river myself. Good shots though. GoPro has its benefits :)
March 21, 2018 at 6:37 pm
Pia said:
Haha, obviously you had a lot of fun! I never tried kayaking before. Would it be ok for total beginners, too?
March 21, 2018 at 4:21 pm
Julie said:
Looks like great fun! (And I love herons - so jealous that you got to see one up close!)
March 21, 2018 at 3:30 pm