BETWEEN MARCH 1st AND MAY 15th, 1997





Visitors Permits are now required by the USDA-Forest Service to reserve an entry date into the SALT RIVER CANYON WILDERNESS by watercraR on the Upper Salt River located within the Tonto National Forest. An application is enclosed with this packet; we recommend reading it carefully.

The Salt River Canyon Wilderness begins at Gleason Flat (mile 40.2) which is a 1-2 day float downstream from the Mulehoof River Access Point (RAP), the most popular place to begin a multi-day trip. The Wilderness continues downstream from Gleason Flat to just above the Highway 288 Bridge (mile 8.3). See enclosed sketch map.

Forest Service Visitors Permits are not required for the Salt Banks Segment (the most popular day-run) nor for the Gleason Flat Segment (these two segments go from mile 60.0 to mile 40.2). M ultiple trips without the need for a Forest Service permit may be made on this 20-mile stretch of river.

Permits issued by the White Mountain Apache Indian Tribe are required for that portion of the river which is within their Reservation (mile 60.0 to mile 31.2). Presently the cost of their permit is $10.00 per person per day. Call (520)338-4385.

Visitors Permits are required from March 1st through May 15th annually; no Forest Service permit is required for the remainder of the year. When you apply for a reserved date, remember that the Wilderness entry date you are requesting will generally be a day or two after your launch date (also remember that a White Mountain permit is required all year).

Any person who is qualified to lead a non-commercial multi-day trip down a technical white-water river may apply once during the initial application period of December 1, 1996 - January 31,1997. A person who is a trip leader may join another group with another qualified leader who has a permit.

Any applicant under 18 years of age must submit a statement of her/his qualifications to lead such a trip.


Because the high-use season on this river comes very early in the year, both the Forest Service and the public have some very tight time-frames:

1. Application packets may be requested (by phone, mail, or walk-in) at anytime. They are available at the Forest Supervisor's Office, 2324 E. McDowell, Phoenix, AZ 85006 (ph. 602-225-5200), and at the Globe Ranger Station, Route 1, Box 33, Globe, AZ 85501 (ph. 520-402-6200).
2. The Forest Service (at the address shown on the application) will accept completed applications no earlier than December 1st and no later than January 31st. Applications received before December 1st or after January 31st will be considered invalid. Only one application per person will be accepted. Don't wait until the last minute to apply; allow time for mail slow downs.

River Permit Coordinator
Tonto National Forest
2324 E. McDowell
Phoenix, AZ 85006

3. A letter of notification will be mailed to each successful applicant by mid-February. This letter will describe what is needed to complete the process. Unsuccessful applicants will be notified.
4. The information requested in the letter of notification (plus the fee) should be returned as soon as possible, but must be received by the Forest Service at least 15 days prior to the approved entry date. The later the requested information and fee is provided to us, the later the permit and boat tags will be sent and the greater the chance a problem will arise.
5. The approved Visitors Permit and the boat tags will be mailed to the trip leader shortly after the requested information and fees are received.
6. Additional applications for unreserved slots may be made (by mail, phone, or in person) beginning March 1st at the locations specified in item #1 above. After tentatively being assigned a reserved date, the application and payment must be provided as soon as possible. If not received within 7 days, that reserved date will immediately be canceled. After receipt, the Visitors Permit and boat tags will be sent. If done in person, during regular business hours, this entire process can be accompIished in a few minutes.
There is a reservation fee of $5.00 per application, which is non-refundable regardless of whether or not the group is successful in securing a reserved date.

A personal check, cashier's check, or money order for $5.00 must accompany the application. It should be made payable to: USDA-Forest Service. Do not send cash.

If the trip leader is awarded a reserved date, she/he will be so notified. To secure the required Visitors Permit, all requested information (plus a personal check, cashier's check, or money order in the amount of $2.00 per person per trip) must be sent to the Forest Service by the established deadline. More details will be provided when you are notified of your reserved date.

If either check is returned for insufficient funds, no permit will be issued, and the reserved date will be re-assigned.


1. The request for a reserved entry date may be withdrawn by the applicant at any time. This should be done as soon as possible, so that your date can be passed on to others.
2. If the cancellation request is received at least 15 days prior to the entry date, the per-person fee (if paid) will be credited to that trip leader if a new application for that year is filed at a later date.
3. A change in a reserved date requires cancellation of that date and submittal of a new application (with reservation fee).
4. Regardless of the date, always notify us of a cancellation so that your date may be used by another. 'No-shows' may lose the privilege of being granted a Visitors Permit for the following river season. Don't deprive another group of the opportunity to run this river!

We processed 650 applications with a total of 1,949 requests for the available dates. Approximately 30 additional applications were not processed due to various deficiencies (e.g. no money, or submitted too early). A total of 276 Visitor Permits were offered to the successful applicants. Of these, 97 canceled and 133 forfeited (primarily due to very low run-off).

An analysis of requested dates in 1996 shows that no particular day of the week is significantly more likely to be available than any other day. The probability of being drawn was best (as might be expected) in the March 1-7 period, and the May 3-15 period. The probability of being drawn was worst during the March 15 - April 11 period.

An additional 44 Visitor Permits were issued after March 1st to walk-in/call-in applicants. A large number of additional Visitor Permits were still available but unwanted.

Visitors Permits are issued for non-commercial/ activities only. A nip is non-commercial if there is a bonafide sharing of actual expenses by ail participants, including transportation (on the Tonto Forest) to and from the site. These expenses may not include provision for payment of salaries, 'free. trips, etc. of any person(s) who help with the activity or its logistics, nor for amortization of equipment, or acquisition of new equipment to the advantage of an individual or group. If your trip does not meet all of these criteria, a Special-Use Permit is required.

If you prefer a commercial trip, we will be pleased to furnish you with the names and addresses of the three commercial outfitters authorized to operate within this Wilderness.


It is difficult to generalize about this river, since much depends on the time of the year, the water level, the boat involved, and particularly the skills of the river-runner. It can be said that this river is not meant for beginners or novices at any time!

Above Horseshoe Bend, there are several rapids that can go to a solid Class IV at certain water levels. This river is usually run in rafts or kayaks. It is not suitable for rubber duckies., flat-water canoes. etc.

Due to its small size, it is also often unsuitable for large rafts (over 15 feet). Below Horseshoe Bend, conditions are more forgiving.

A hydrograph of flows is enclosed. Note that wide variations in water level can be expected. Early in the season, water temperatures are very cold, and snow storms can occur. Depending on the boat being used, rocks will become more of a problem below 700 cfs. Over 3,000 cfs is considered to be high but manageable; above that level, the river becomes more and more pushy. This river is not dam-controlled. It can go from 3,000 cfs to 30,000 cfs in a few short hours. Its highest level to date was over 130.000 cfs!

Before applying to be a trip leader on this river, you should have substantial experience with rivers of this type and difficulty.

Every person intending to run this river is personally responsible for assessing its condition and their ability to cope with those conditions. All white-water river-running involves a significant degree of risk; persons engaging in this activity acknowledge the risks associated therewith (e.g. drowning, falls, cold-water injuries, heat-related illnesses, trauma, etc.). "Don't bite off more than you can chew". Compassion is not one of this river's attributes.

A Recreation Opportunity Guide for the Upper Salt River is available at no charge from the Globe Ranger Station or from the Forest Supervisor's Office. It gives detailed information concerning safe boating considerations and 'Leave-No-Trace' techniques, as well as the locations and characteristics of major rapids. Don't leave home without it!

In addition to the restrictions and prohibitions enforced nationwide within National Forests, there are several area-specific ones that we would like to bring to your attention:

1. Your group size is limited to 16 people. Smaller groups are encouraged.
2. You may not have a fire of any type, unless it is a campstove, or contained within a firepan which has sides at least 3' high (or on a fire blanket).
3. You may not possess or transport any part of a native plant, except for dead-and-down material (campfires should be kept to a minimum, using only dry wood). Do not break branches from any tree.
4. All human solid-waste must be removed.
5. No motor vehicle (including boats), motorized equipment, or other form of mechanical transportation (except for wheelchairs) may be utilized at any time.
If there are any questions concerning any of these items, please contact personnel at the Globe Ranger Station.