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Everything You Need To Know About Salt River Tubing In Arizona


Modified: January 3, 2024

by Darya L.

Salt River Tubing, Arizona

Arizona summer sometimes feels like a sizzling pan. If you feel like you need to escape the swelter, there is a great place for you to go for a picnic. North-east of Phoenix, through the pristine beauty of Tonto National forest, flows Salt River.


The recreation site at the river bank also features unique entertainment for individual adventurers, groups, and families. Salt River tubing is a great alternative to usual picnics for those who aren’t afraid to get their feet wet. 


What Is So Special About Salt River Tubing In Arizona? 

Salt River is about 200 miles long. It flows over large salt deposits that eventually make the water salty, hence its peculiar name. Arizona is one of the few places in the world with a river that contains no “sweet water”. 


Salt River Tubing, Arizona

Photo by Jackie Cavanagh on Flickr


Tonto National Forest provides a wonderful mixture of picturesque river banks, quiet creeks, and steep mountain cliffs. The changing scenery along the river is sure to keep you entertained along the trip downstream!


Steep curves are followed by easier areas that give you a chance to catch your breath, have a snack, or exchange impressions with your friends. 


Getting To Salt River, Arizona

Salt River Tubing, Arizona

Photo by cjohnson111784 on Flickr


The adventure starts from Salt River recreation site which is located at 9200 N Bush Highway, Mesa. It is approx. 35 miles away from Phoenix and the only way to get there is by car.


The recreation site has ample parking so it shouldn’t be a problem to find a spot unless you visit it during a national holiday. The second best option is taking a taxi which will cost you from $40 one way.


How Things Work At Salt River, Arizona

At Salt River Tubing, trips are available every day from 9 AM to 6:30 PM, but be advised that the last tube departs at 2:00 PM. The whole route is split into 3 destination points – point 1, 2 and, surprisingly, 4.


Depending on the route you choose, it can take anywhere from 2 (points 1-2) to 3 (points 2-4) to 5 hours (point 1-4) to complete the journey. 


Salt River Tubing, Arizona

Photo by rolandstefanie on Flickr


A shuttle bus will take you from “Salt River Tubing HQ” to the “starting point” and then pick you up at the “destination point” to take you back to the Salt River Tubing recreation site. Along the route, there will be signs marking the exits for points 1, 2, and 4.


Be very careful not to miss your exit – otherwise the way home will be much longer than expected.


Are There Rules To Follow When Tubing At Salt River, Arizona?

While Salt River Tubing is a family-friendly attraction but there are some safety regulations. You have to be at least 8 years old and 4 feet tall to participate. Wear a life vest if you are not a confident swimmer, and the same rule applies to children of all ages.


In case you don’t have or don’t want to bring a life vest with you, they are available for purchase on-site. 


Salt River Tubing, Arizona

Photo by David Duane on Flickr


Renting out a tube requires a government-issued ID so make sure to bring an ID, such as a passport or a driver’s license. One person can rent up to 5 tubes. Alcohol consumption during tubing is strictly forbidden, and your bags will be checked for restricted items. 


When Is The Best Time For Tubing At Salt River, Arizona?

The exact start date for the tubing season on Salt River varies every year. However, it mostly comes in late spring (April-May). The peak of the season is June to July when locals spend more time outdoors with their families.


Arizona heat works as a best PR manager for Salt River Tubing urging people to look for a refreshing oasis. 


Salt River Tubing, Arizona

Photo by Willie Stark on Flickr


Expect some waiting time during national and state holidays. The popularity of tubing starts to fade out after Labor Day. In September it is only available Friday through Sunday.


Our recommendation is to plan your visit to Salt River either before mid-June or in August-September. 


Special Occasions & Themed Events At Salt River, Arizona

Salt River Tubing, Themed Events, Arizona

Photo by Salt River Tubing


Feeling that your trip just isn’t going to be as good if you can’t show off your stetson? Or do you wish to blow some dust off that Aquaman costume you’ve been saving after Halloween? Then, by all means, check Salt River Tubing’s special events calendar. 


Every year Salt River Tubing hosts themed events, such as Rockin’ Rodeo Roundup or Super Heroes SplashDown. During these events, the visitors are expected to come wearing themed costumes.


The best costume also wins a free tubing passage! For the exact dates this year, check the event calendar on the official Salt River Tubing website.


The Weather In Arizona…

Salt River Tubing, Arizona, Weather In Arizona

Photo by Willie Stark on Flickr


Well, it’s not a secret that Arizona is a pretty warm state. It is home to deserts, badlands, and mountain valleys. Phoenix, the closest city to Salt River, is located in one of the sunniest regions in the world. It cuts it close to the Sahara desert-temperatures with an average of 100°F for 107 days per year. July is usually the wettest month, while June is the driest.


What To Bring To Salt River, Arizona?

Salt River Tubing, Arizona, What To Bring

Photo by Chad Woolley on Flickr


  • A swimsuit is a must since Salt River Tubing is a water-related attraction. However, you will also need some clothes to protect your skin from sun. 
  • Sturdy water-resistant footwear. Flip Flops or sandals won’t guard your feet from the rocky riverbed, and they are guaranteed to slide off somewhere along the route.
  • A hat and sunscreen. Our recommendation is to apply strong sunscreen, SPF 50 and up both before and during tubing. It’s very important, especially since the chance of sunburn on the water is much higher.
  • Rental tubes are black, therefore they quickly get hot under the sunlight. Consider bringing a towel that you won’t regret getting wet to cover the tube. 
  • Water. Take lots of water with you and watch your hydration levels.
  • Food. Some trips can take up to 5 hours so packing some food is essential. Bring some dry snacks or other light non-perishables like protein bars with you.
  • A cooler or a sun-proof container to keep your food and water cool and dry.
  • A “dry bag” for your valuables, a dry change of clothes, and other essential belongings. As a last minute option, bring Ziplocs to keep smaller valuables, like phones and wallets, dry.

Glass bottles are restricted by law so be sure to bring any produce and water only in plastic containers. Tubing hosts will provide you with special bags for trash disposal so be sure to collect all your litter on the route.


It is pivotal that you restrain from throwing any trash in the water to keep flora and fauna of the region healthy.


What Would It Cost To Go Tubing At Salt River, Arizona?

Salt River Tubing, Arizona

Photo by Willie Stark on Flickr


Tubing rental will cost you $17 per tube; this price also includes the cost of the shuttle. In the case you have your own tube and want to only book a shuttle ride, you’ll have to pay $14. Be advised, lost or ruined tube will take $30 from your pocket. You can buy a life vest on site for $6. 


What Else Is There To Do Around Salt River, Arizona?

Spending time outside on the Salt River site will be a great full day activity for the whole family or a group of friends. As an alternative to tubing, you can choose kayaking.


Any non-motor vessel is permitted on Salt River so you can choose what suits you best to enjoy the stream. However, shuttles won’t take you on board if your vessel of choice is not made of rubber or vinyl and is much bigger than a regular tube. 

Salt River Tubing, Arizona

Photo by Willie Stark on Flickr


If you don’t feel like getting wet, Tonto National Forest has plenty to offer as the largest forest in Arizona. You can enjoy a hike on one of the numerous tracks with a beautiful landscape while the rest of your group goes tubing.


If you have limited time, we recommend hiking a section of the picturesque Tonto Trail or exploring the whereabouts of the Salt River recreation site.