Tonto Creek, Arizona is one set of rapids that is only for experts and only at certain times of the year. This creek is really only navigable just after a major rain storm in the surrounding mountains and even then there are many natural obstacles as well as man made obstacles to watch out for.
With a class IV / V set of rapids with massive boulders to navigate around and a narrow water way, this is really only for experts.
Additionally there can be barb wire strung across the creek by ranchers to stop their cattle from roaming too far. You need to watch out for this and other items that can ruin your trip in a big way.
Rafting Trip – There are no rafters offering trips on this creek and you must bring in everything that you need.
Access can be gained at SH 260 crossing just east of Payson; Rye Creek confluence just east of the SH 188/SH 87 intersection; Any USFS park on the banks of Roosevelt Lake .
Description – Hazards may include, barbed wire fences strung across the creek. Also dead-fall strainers in the channel, live tree strainers overhanging the creek along its banks. Or boulder garden rapids dropping into keeper holes, ample opportunities for pinning and wrapping, narrow slot drops of 8-10 feet, or more, rattlesnakes and copper heads hiding in the rocks along the creek, and very difficult access for emergency personnel in the event of an accident.
Christopher Creek (USFS) and Ponderosa (USFS) Campgrounds, both primitive forest campsites, are located between Tonto Creek and SH 260 just east of Payson. There are no other campgrounds located along or near Tonto Creek.
The best time to run Tonto Creek is right after a heavy rainfall in its drainage basin. There is a short window of opportunity unless in the midst of a prolonged period of rainfall.
River Rating – Class IV / V
Number of Rapids – Varies based on amount of rain and the time you go. Water flow does not last very long, depending on the amount of rain that has fallen in surrounding mountains.
Minimum Age – Experts only
Departure Dates – No scheduled trips, you are on your own.
Boat Type – Kayaks are apparently the best for this, with experts who can exert perfect control
What to Bring – Everything you are going to need. Note if you catch the runoff late, you could end up walking out. The water flow falls as fast as it rises.
Reviews – None that we found
Outfitters – None offered