Tips for Paddling the Verde River

Empty boats at Childs | Susan Culp

Empty boats at Childs | Susan Culp

The Verde River is becoming increasingly known as a recreational mecca for outdoor enthusiasts from across the state and around the region. Canoeing and kayaking are common activities, as are fishing, bird-watching, and hiking along the river. Experienced boaters know that the Verde is a small stream, and its flows to support boating are seasonal and may vary considerably depending on precipitation, snowpack, and water removed from the river for agricultural use.

River runners have a number of options to choose from when boating the Verde River. As you know, always checking current conditions before getting out on the river is a wise first step before pushing off from shore. The most consistently floatable stretches during nearly all seasons are listed below; these three stretches are also well suited to novice paddlers:

  • Lower TAPCO river access point to Tuzigoot (the Verde River @ Clarkdale stretch)
  • The Skidmore Lane river access point to Bignotti river access point in the Prescott National Forest
  • Black Bridge river access point to Beasley Flat river access point in the Town of Camp Verde

Boaters are encouraged to enjoy these sections of the river since there are a minimum of hazards and obstacles, as well as reasonably reliable flows even in summertime. The riverside lands along these stretches of river are a mix of private and public lands. Please respect private property rights and only put in and take out at designated access points. Also, check out helpful boater’s guides from our partners at U.S. Forest Service, Verde Valley Land Preservation and Arizona State Parks (special thanks to John Parsons who personally navigated and documented some of these stretches):

If you are a more skilled or advanced paddler looking for a little more adventure, the Wild & Scenic portion of the Verde River might be right up your alley. Check with the U.S. Forest Service about river conditions, trip size restrictions, and if permits are required for your excursion. The Scenic stretch of the Verde runs from Beasley Flats to Childs River Access Point. Class III and Class IV rapids and hazards along this stretch increase greatly, proceed with caution. From Childs River Access point to Horseshoe Reservoir is the Wild Stretch of the Verde. There is limited access, no services, and only primitive amenities along the Wild and Scenic stretch of the Verde River in order to maintain its wilderness integrity. Please practice leave no trace if you enjoy this section of the river. Enjoy the Verde River – it’s an amazing oasis in the desert!