Gila River - Old Safford Bridge to Dry Canyon - January 21, 2005

This was a surprise trip. Had some fuzzy plans on doing it in late February or early March. An unexpected Friday off and with the short-notice shuttle a go, the first paddle of the year was underway. Weather was cloudy but pleasant with the temps in the mid-sixties. Put-in was about five miles south of Clifton, Arizona at the old Safford Bridge. Take-out a couple miles below the Bonita Creek campground at Dry Canyon. BLM estimates 500 people a year float this 22 mile stretch. They must all go at a different time than I do. In two trips, never seen another person on the river.

Outside of the southwestern rafting listservers and the local BLM, no one had much to say about personal float experience. BLM page has a good overview. Shuttle was provided by (Gila Outdoor), the only local sport/outfitter store in the area and ran $80.

The water flows were just perfect for the inflatable kayak. Especially when compared to the butt-dragging levels of last year. Took the AIRE Tomcat tandem rigged as a solo to carry the gear. A class II river with 3-4 spots that pushed to II+. GPS indicated average river current was in the 4 to 4.5 mph range. River mile markers are referenced to the Safford Bridge.

Click images to view trip report details.

Trip report image
USGS flow link image