Tonto National Forest

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Tonto National Forest: Our most recommended tours and activities

Phoenix: Kayaking Trip to Foxtail

1. Phoenix: Kayaking Trip to Foxtail

There is no better way to escape the summer heat than to go kayaking on the Lower Salt River. As you cruise below cliffs and past beautiful desert scenery, look out for native wildlife. The sit-on-top kayaks are very stable and easy to maneuver; after a 15-minute orientation, you'll be ready to go.  This self-guided float is the most convenient way to explore the area. Park your car at Saguaro Lake Ranch, no Tonto Pass required, and launch from a private kayak beach. Embark on an around 2-hour float. At the end of the route, staff will be waiting to gather the kayaks as you board an air-conditioned van to return to the ranch.

Mesa: 4.5-Hour Kayaking Trip to Granite Reef

2. Mesa: 4.5-Hour Kayaking Trip to Granite Reef

What better way to beat the Arizona heat than in the cool waters of the Lower Salt River? Kayak out into the beautiful wilderness of the Tonto National Forest. Keep your eyes peeled for native, desert wildlife. On the Granite Reef float, you'll witness the confluence of the Salt and Verde Rivers and the majestic Red Mountain. The sit-on-top kayaks are very stable and easy to maneuver; after a 15-minute orientation, even beginners will feel safe and comfortable in the water. This self-guided float is the most convenient way to kayak the Lower Salt River. Park your car at Saguaro Lake Ranch — no Tonto Pass required — and launch from a private kayak beach. Enjoy the 4.5-hour float. At the end of the route, staff will be waiting to gather the kayaks as you board an air-conditioned van and return to the ranch.

Sonoran Desert: Guided 2-Hour UTV Adventure

3. Sonoran Desert: Guided 2-Hour UTV Adventure

Hop in, buckle up, turn the switch, and hit the trail in the toughest vehicle the Sonoran Desert has ever seen. The 4-seat UTV can be filled to capacity and can still climb trails, crawl boulders, and zip all over the desert without breaking a sweat. Whether you're craving adventure or simply want to enjoy some sightseeing at your own pace, this UTV is dialed in to deliver. With electric power steering, a thrilling V-Twin engine, and towing capacity to take everything with you, this exhilarating drive handles like a dream. 

Phoenix: Lower Salt River Foxtail Paddleboarding Experience

4. Phoenix: Lower Salt River Foxtail Paddleboarding Experience

Escape the summer heat with a paddleboarding experience on the Lower Salt River. Cruise below cliffs and past beautiful desert scenery while keeping an eye out for wildlife local to the Tonto National Forest. Begin your outdoor adventure at Saguaro Lake Ranch, no Tonto Pass required. Begin with a short orientation session and safety briefing where you'll learn the ins and outs of paddleboarding. Then, ready to hit the water, you'll launch from a private beach. Sit, kneel, or stand on your board as you float down the river. Marvel at the unique ecosystem, home to otters, wild horses, javelina, roadrunners, and more. At the end of your river tour, you'll be greeted by staff waiting to transfer you back to the ranch in an air-conditioned vehicle. 

Other Sightseeing Options in Tonto National Forest

Want to discover all there is to do in Tonto National Forest? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Tonto National Forest

Overall rating

4.8 / 5

based on 4 reviews

This activity was amazing. We were lucky to have the weather we did. The entire route was manageable using the easy to understand maneuvering instructions the knowledge guides provided. They promised we’d see wild horses and low and behold, a packed of about eight of them crossed the river as soon as my and my guest ended at the pick up location. They were not at all concerned with us. It was spectacular to see them in their natural habitat doing what they do.

Super fun experience! Six of us went so each couple had our own UTV. Devo our guide was awesome. He would explain what’s ahead on each of the trails and gave us the opportunity to switch drivers and switch up the order of the UTVs so we all took turns eating each other’s dust. LOL. He also took lots of pictures for us. The dessert and 4 Peaks Mountain were absolutely spectacular. Highly recommend and well worth the money.

Took my 12 year old granddaughter on the 7:30 trip. Great location at the base of the dam after driving through picturesque Saguaro Ranch Lodge. The check in was very easy. A quick instruction session on on your way. The trip is more of a float trip, with some paddling. This was my granddaughter's first attempt at kayaking and she did fine. We saw vultures, ducks, egrets, and wild horses. A great first trip.

Relaxing and beautiful ride! We saw several horses and enjoyed the views along the way. Staff was also warm and welcoming. So happy we booked this adventure!

Amazing experience. Budget-friendly and well worth every penny. The views were amazing and the staff were very kind and helpful.