Putting in for permits? We’ve put together the ultimate (permitted) River Trip Dream List, so you can plan alongside us for 2023. Here’s our pick of the 5 greatest permitted river trips.
1. Early Season Upper Salt River, Arizona
Runoff starts early down south! The Upper Salt is well-known for its rowdy rapids, glorious Arizona sun, beautiful beach camps, and thousands of saguaro cacti.
Here's a quick writeup from our friend Betsy Shoemaker from a March 2019 trip:
"We put-in at the Upper-Salt River in Arizona on March 25th at roughly 2600 cfs. When we left the Colorado mountains it was snowing, but here in the desert California poppies and prickly pear were in full bloom across the saguaro cactus-lined canyon.
Straight after launching we hit a series of meaty and continuous class III rapids, where we had our first raft flip. Day two featured more class IIIs while we rowed swiftly through Apache Wilderness. Day three was our biggest day of class IVs including a run through The Maze and the infamous Quartzite Falls, which we scouted. We took a layover day at the Coon Creek oasis, before taking out on the fifth day.
The river peaked at 3,200 cfs and all in all we had 3 flips and 8 swimmers along the 52-mile run. "
2. Big Water Yampa Canyon, Colorado
The Yampa is the last truly wild tributary of the Colorado River system. Snowmelt from Steamboat contributes to this undammed section, creating peak flows between mid-May and mid-June. This permit is one of the hardest to snag, and for good reason: incredible side-canyon hikes, huge class IV rapids and wildlife viewing for days.
3. High-Season Middle Fork Salmon, Idaho
Clear water, hot springs, big water. Need we even say more?
4. Any Selway Permit, Idaho
The Selway has an incredibly short season so getting a permit is extremely difficult. For this reason alone, we had to include it in our ultimate dream list.
5. Fall Grand Canyon, Arizona
A fall spent in the Grand Canyon is a fall well-spent. Weather is prime for hiking, the flows are always good, and the colder evenings lead to better sleep.