Kayaking the Verde River

Growing up in Michigan we spent all our summer weekends at the lake or the river on our boat.  I love boats.  I love being on the water.  Arizona has lakes and rivers, but they are never where I think to spend my weekends these days.  So when I came across the Verde River kayaking trip through Sedona Adventure Tours a couple of months ago I couldn’t get it out of my head.  I put off scheduling the trip initially because I’m currently working the night shift and rearranging my sleep schedule to get up early is challenging.  The full day trip begins at 0900 which meant leaving the Phoenix area around 0630.  I am so happy I decided to bite the sleep bullet and take this trip anyway.

I chose the full day trip because I wanted to relax and enjoy myself on the river without any time constraints and without feeling rushed.  I wanted to have time to stop and swim, have lunch, and hike and explore the area.  We were able to do all that.

We were joined on the trip by our friends that we backpacked the Grand Canyon with, and who because of scheduling issues we haven’t seen in at least three years.  It was so great to catch up and be able to spend the day together!


The trip was five river miles long.  Our driver informed us it had been taking about two and a half hours to complete the run.  We had eight hours!  The start of the trip was a lush green forested area with birds singing so loudly it sounded as though we were in a jungle not the desert.

Drop Point





Throughout the trip we had the pleasure of seeing lizards, a heron, a raven, a turkey vulture, some swallows, and ducks.


It wasn’t too long before we made our first stop to sit and enjoy the coolness of the water.  Even in Camp Verde where the temperature is usually 10° cooler than Phoenix, it was still 90+° at 0900.

It takes me a little longer to get into the water!
It takes me a little longer to get into the water!



The water level of the river was low so there were several times where we got stuck going through the “rapids” and had to get out and pull our kayaks through.



The landscape slowly changed from forest to desert.





We stopped for lunch in an open area where we could also take some time to enjoy the water again.





Being only my second time in a kayak, I am not a very good driver and spent a fair amount of time sideways and even backward!


But I was having fun!

On the way to the drop point, our driver pointed out some Indian ruins that were a short hike from the river.

View from the ruins down to the river

After coming home and researching the ruins I can tell you they are the Mindeleff Cavates built by the Sinagua Indians and inhabited between the 1300-1400’s.  This community consisted of approximately 89 cavates (man-made caves) with 343 rooms and housed about 250 people.


The area being unmaintained (non-tourist) still had a lot of pottery pieces scattered about.  I was grateful that the visitors before us left them to be enjoyed.  There’s a difference between seeing and touching an artifact in a museum and in its nature habitat.


The area was swarming with bees, harmless bees according to the boys, but enough that I was a little nervous.  Other than the bees we didn’t see another living animal, just one dead tarantula.  There was evidence though that deer come to visit the site.


We stayed and explored the ruins for about half an hour then headed back to the river for one more soak before finishing our day.


View from the inside looking out
From the inside looking out




It was a perfect day and I hope to not wait another four years to go kayaking again.  Why do we wait so long to repeat activities that we find enjoyable?



3 thoughts on “Kayaking the Verde River

  1. Wow Jennifer. This looks like a fabulous way to spend a day. Like you, I’m not that great a kayaker, but I certainly would want to give this a go. Thanks for the write up and the lovely photos.


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