If you’re looking for a kayaking adventure near Sedona, take a trip down the Verde River!
When we took our recent couple’s trip to Sedona, we knew we wanted to hike, eat delicious food, get a massage, and relax in our pool’s hot tub.
We also wanted to do something else that was fun, but not crazy expensive. A quick Google search returned the perfect afternoon adventure: a kayak trip!
With a little research, I decided that this was a safe option! (while we do have some kayak experience, we’re definitely not experts). Verde Adventures makes it easy to sign up online, so I snagged the last two spots available on a Friday afternoon.
About the Verde River
First, you should know that the Verde River is located 40 miles south of Sedona. While the creek that runs through Sedona, Oak Creek, is a lovely place to swim, it’s not ideal for floating and kayaking.
The Verde River is close enough to make a nice half-day trip! Depending on where you are in Sedona, you’ll need to allow at least 40-60 minutes to drive to the meetup point on the Verde River.
Primarily, the Verde River is a 192-mile river that is spring-fed, starting north of Prescott and south of Williams, AZ. It winds its way through the desert, dumping into the Salt River located near Mesa, AZ. Almost half of the water from the Verde River is used in the city of Phoenix.
Is It Safe to Kayak the Verde River?
Yes, usually! The Verde River is a small river and kayaking is only allowed when the water flow rate falls below 4,000 cubic feet per second. When we went in April, it was just a little over 1,000 cubic feet per second, making for a tame, but lovely, adventure.
At that rate, the water is relatively shallow and you can stand up in most parts of the river. At its widest point, the river is probably not more than 80-100 feet wide.
Guests are also provided with life jackets at the boat launching area. You are not required to wear the kayak but you are required to have it in the kayak with you. Allan and I opted to sit on our life jackets for a little extra padding. Since the water wasn’t that deep or crazy, we felt comfortable without them.
What Level of Experience Do I Need to Kayak the Verde River?
Very little. There were people in our group who were more experienced kayakers, some with just a little experience, and even a couple who had never kayaked.
The staff does a great job of identifying different land markers and explaining what to do if you find yourself in a difficult situation. Basically, it can be summed up in a single sentence: Call your guide using the cell phone number provided if you need assistance.
Using Inflatable Kayaks
Before launching, a guide will explain how to navigate the kayak. I have kayaked using both river and ocean kayaks. I have canoed. But, it was my first time using an inflatable kayak. Needless to say, it was a mildly entertaining experience getting started. Maybe the lady kayaking next to me would disagree, but it seemed funny to me. Haha!
If you have used an inflatable kayak before, you can probably imagine what happened the first time I dipped my paddle in the water.
If you haven’t used an inflatable kayak before, I’ll explain.
Feeling confident and excited to be on the water, I dipped my paddle for a quick stroke. Much to my surprise, that “normal” stroke spun me 180 degrees, causing my kayak to hit the lady floating next to me in her kayak. “Oops! I’m so sorry. I guess this is more like bumper boats!”
I quickly learned that a little goes a long way when you’re in an inflatable kayak. And, unless you like spinning in circles or going down rapids backward (that’s fun on this river), PADDLE LIGHT. It took a little while, but I did end up figuring out a stroke that kept me semi-straight.
For the most part, the current should carry you down the river with little paddling. However, we did end up getting a rather strong breeze that was blowing upstream. If we didn’t paddle we would float upstream against the current!
You just have to think of inflatable kayaks more like inner tubes than actual kayaks.
What to Bring on Your Verde River Kayaking Adventure Near Sedona
Before boarding the shuttle, we slathered on some sunscreen. Even though it wasn’t terribly warm the day we floated, the water always reflects the sun and can be intense.
We wore our water shoes (flip-flops can float away) that we purchased before our trip at Walmart, but you can even purchase water shoes from the adventure company online when you reserve your trip!
Also, we purchased some waterproof cell phone pouches that we hung from lanyards around our necks. My pouch was big enough that I was able to put the car keys in my pouch as well.
Since the float takes 2-3 hours, you’ll want water, so be sure to bring along your water bottle!
We met our guide at the Beasley Flats Day Use area in Camp Verde. Be forewarned. Beasley Flats feels like it’s located in the middle of nowhere. You’ll wind through the countryside, bump down a dirt road, and arrive at a sparsely populated day-use park.
If it feels like you’re in the middle of nowhere and you might be lost, you’re probably in the right place. On Google Maps it’s marked as Beasley Flats RAP (River Access Point).
At the day-use area, you’ll have access to covered picnic tables. We arrived at the meeting point a little early, so we chose a picnic table and ate our turkey and brie sandwich that we purchased from Wildflower Bread Company. Delish!
If you drive to the end of the day-use area (it dead-ends at the river), you’ll find some vault toilets and ample parking.
From there, you’ll board the kayak company’s shuttle that will take you 4-5 miles upstream to the starting point for your kayaking adventure!
What You’ll See on the Verde River
On your kayaking adventure near Sedona, you’re bound to see a few things unique to that area.
Wildlife wasn’t as prevalent as we had hoped it might be along the river, but we saw a variety of birds, evidence of beavers, some ducklings, and a fish.
You’ll also kayak beside some ancient cliff dwellings. You can blaze a trail up to the dwellings and explore them if you have extra time. Just don’t forget to take plenty of water and watch out for snakes!
Also, along S. Salt Mine Road, the guide may point out a small boulder next to the road that has petroglyphs. On our way back home, we pulled off and took pictures. The history of this area is fascinating.
TIP: Visit the Nearby Montezuma Castle National Monument
If you want to dig a little deeper into the history of this area, visit Montezuma Castle National Monument on your way back to Sedona! This ancient, 20-room, 5-story cliff dwelling was once home for the Sinagua people.
How Do I Sign Up for a Verde River Kayak Adventure?
Visit the Verde Adventures website and choose the adventure package that best suits you. You can do a traditional three-hour kayak float, tube during the summer, or even choose a kayak adventure that includes wine tasting!
SEDONA AND THE VERDE RIVER
Overall, while the thrill factor is low, floating down the Verde River is a great way to spend the afternoon if you’re looking for a kayaking adventure near Sedona! We loved the quiet serenity of this experience!
Are you planning a trip to Sedona? Check out my 3-day itinerary for a couple’s getaway if you want to learn about some great hikes, good places to eat, and insider tips!