Where’s Waldo? Vegetation & Wildlife while Rafting in Arizona


There is an unmatched thrill of going down rapids of water and having the ice-cold water splash on you as you furiously paddle to turn left.  Let’s face it the water is taking you where it wants you to be. I’m kidding please don’t refuse to participate because you think it’s useless. In fact strong team paddling can make the difference for your boat tipping over or not, of course this becomes more important the higher class you go rafting.

I am all about the thrill, the experience of almost falling out of the boat and having to put those safety tips to use. But, it’s never happened. I had some friends come into town and they were so excited to go Arizona rafting with me. So, what do I do? I want them to enjoy the sport so I sign them up for the baby step rafting trip down the Arizona Salt River.

Yikes! I was bored. The thrills were gone. If anything it was similar to driving on a light gravel road at times. I perked up when the instructor said a firm rowing command and I looked for the big rapid, it was pure glass in sight. I got the hint this really was a basic rafting trip.

So, it was time to sit back and do some sightseeing. I now equally enjoy the beginner rapids as I do the Class V, and here’s why.

Arizona Salt RIver – Vegetation

License: Creative Commons image source

When you’re tearing down rapids for the thrill you are focused on the rapids and not the beauty around you. But, when you’re cruising down on a beginner run, voila the beauty is right before you.

I’ll admit at first I get numb to nature. I see the vegetation, the rocks, and am easily set into a trance. But, when you stop to focus on the vegetation you will begin to see plants that exude beauty. My favorite trips are down the Arizona Salt River also known as “The Little Grand Canyon”. It’s not as crowded, and there is a lot more vegetation to look at. The forests in Arizona mainly consist of aspens, spruce and even fir trees as far as your eyes can see. The flourishing forest exists at elevations up to twelve thousand feet. With the winds sweeping through the land, the pines have grown to include blue spruce, white pines and the “Christmas Trees” Douglas-fir.

Interior Chaparrel is a small shrub that seems to be the only green in a plain of rocks and dried roots. This plant is very hearty able to withstand the extreme desert heats that bring long periods of drought. These shrubs are miraculous that they survive with only ten or fifteen inches of rain a year.

One of my favorite plants is the Riparian. It is a light plant that almost looks like it should be cut and used as an herb. The plant is usually found at higher elevations, and is frequently found lining the river. In the spring it buds small red flowers that make the tips of the plant look like they’re on fire.

These are some of my favorite plants to spot when I go rafting. It keeps me entertained while I’m rafting down the river a leisurely pace. Next time you’re out on the beginner’s course keep your eyes peeled, see if you can spot them all.

Arizona Salt River – Wildlife

License: Creative Commons image source

I highly recommend that you bring your binoculars on your rafting trip down the Arizona Salt River. The air is filled with eagles, falcons, and even hawks. The birds will frequently swoop from side to side throughout the canyon perpendicular to the river.

There’s nothing more exciting than whisking down the river and seeing the wildlife rise out in their natural habitats. Since the lower end of the Salt River is controlled by dams the wildlife is able to flourish. The wildlife will often hide when they hear a rambunctious group of rafters coming down the river, so when your rafting trip takes a rest go on a stroll to a lower traffic area and see if you can find an otter or even a beaver!

You can even look for the beasts of the ground. There are many zebra tailed lizards and diamond back snakes. I would not recommend searching the snakes out, but be aware that they exist. There’s even bighorn sheep, coyotes and foxes. The wildlife is endless, the beauty can be hidden if you don’t look for it, but the memories are taken with a camera. So bring a camera!

For the experienced rafters, look for the beauty in your beginner trips. Don’t forget that there’s a lot more to rafting than the thrill. It can be easy to get lost in the excitement, but in reality you can’t often get to the places you see rafting any other way. So enjoy the river guided tour, find the pieces of beauty in your travels that you can compare to the next.

For the beginner rafters, listen to your instructor. Don’t forget to look around you every now and then and see the beautiful landscape you are visiting or live in. Enjoy your next rafting trip; don’t forget to find Waldo along the way.

The author of this article is Alisa Carscaden. I am consumed by travelling, and love to blog about my experiences and the sights and attractions along the way. If you enjoyed this article please follow on Twitter @TheWorldVoyager. If you are interested in rafting down the Arizona Salt River go to Inaraft.com and book a trip to remember today.

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