Three top Arizona destinations for your next water adventure

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Apr 12, 2018, 1:19 PM | Updated: Apr 16, 2018, 10:25 am


When most people think of Arizona, a thriving water adventure might not be the first thing that comes to mind. But woven into the fabric of our desert community is a river system full of life, nature and activity. The Colorado River, San Pedro River and Verde River all provide an abundance of activity from rafting, hiking, nature-watching, and even beer and wine tasting! Through the efforts of The Nature Conservancy in Arizona, careful conservation of these valuable resources has supported an outdoor community for everyone to enjoy.

In the podcast Earth to Arizona, we learn that Arizona is the third most biologically rich state in the nation. Organizations, such as, The Nature Conservancy make it possible for us to continue to have thriving natural environments, but also to enjoy the perks that life on the river provide!

The Colorado River

This iconic river stretches more than 1,450 miles and is most recognized as the river that flows through the Grand Canyon. It is responsible for 40 percent of all water used in Arizona, according to Arizona Experience. It is not just essential to human water use, however. It is also home to a complex community of wildlife.

If you’re looking to interest your inner Nature Enthusiast, you can breathe in the local fauna and red and gold canyons surrounding the banks of the Colorado River. Hop in your raft to experience the thrill these rapids have to offer, with a little nature watching along the way.

With the continued use of the river’s resources and increasing community growth that requires water, the Colorado River can also be taxed during summer when the water levels are lowest. This endangers the natural habitats of creatures that depend on river flow for life. The Nature Conservancy has made exceptional efforts to preserve these habitats, like by saving the Great Razorback Sucker; a fish that exclusively lives in the Colorado River.

There is no shortage of thrilling wildlife adventures to be explored in this extended, windy riverway. If you are planning on hiking, rafting or camping along the river, pack in and out with Colorado River-inspired dry sacks and water bottles to support conservation efforts in style.

The San Pedro River

What do Cottonwoods, jaguars and more than 250 species of migratory birds all have in common?

You can find all of these things and more on the banks of the San Pedro River. This river area is a hot spot for an exceptional amount of migratory wildlife. However, with the development growth in the area, this precious habitat has run into challenges. The Nature Conservancy has put efforts in place to preserve this land.

“An innovative project involving Cochise County, the U.S. Army’s Fort Huachuca and the Conservancy is showing great potential to capture stormwater runoff and replenish the aquifer that supports river flows,” says The Nature Conservancy. The efforts behind this project have protected over one-third of the river corridor. As we enter a nearly 20-year drought in Arizona, these innovators and conservation efforts have been a part of the Salt and Verde River Alliance to protect our future water to preserve the environment, and all the fun and recreation that comes with it!

It’s not just the wildlife that has been pristinely preserved in this region. For a bit of culture, visit the ghost town of Fairbank, which is just off the San Pedro River area and experience a town that was once one of the largest cities in the West.

The Verde River

Save water…drink beer! It’s an easy effort to get behind as Arizona’s craft brewery industry is on the rise. The Nature Conservancy planted the idea of growing barley, which grows in the spring when the river flows at its highest. It uses low water overall, and almost no water at all during the summer. The summer season is most important, as this is the season when the Verde River flows the lowest and creates an environmental strain on everything from the fish to recreation seekers.

If you ever wanted to float down the river with a real river guide, The Nature Conservancy is making that a reality. You can enter to win a half-day Verde River Kayak Float for four, accompanied by one of the most knowledgeable river guides in the region. This adventure down one of Arizona’s most iconic and peaceful waterways will show you a peek behind the curtain at the beauty of our most essential natural resource.

Thanks to environmental non-profits such as The Nature Conservancy in Arizona, the efforts they make from the ground up support a healthy environment for the long term…which means we will be able to experience a long and exciting life on the river for generations to come. The forests, desert and rivers are all more connected than we realize. To stay connected with the efforts to preserve these environments, check out to stay in the loop with on-the-ground initiatives, activities and volunteer efforts to preserve the lands and waters on which we all depend on.

The Nature Conservancy


Patrick Graham, Former State Director of the Arizona Chapter of The Nature Conservancy and Interim Executive Director, Arizona Thrives

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Three top Arizona destinations for your next water adventure