Summer water recreation offers cool respite

Three ways to stay cool and enjoy the water this summer

Brian Palm, Reporter

As the days get longer and temperatures rise, many valley residents turn to our rivers and reservoirs to stay cool.  There’s more to water recreation than boating, jet skiing and water skiing.  For the fitness- and adventure-minded, there’s several options for staying cool and healthy at the same time.

The No Snow Paddleboard s in Mesa sells and rents stand-up paddleboards which can be used on lakes as well as Salt River.  The paddleboard is a relatively new invention that looks like a surfboard but is designed to be stood on and propelled with a long, single-bladed paddle. Court Fetter, the owner of No Snow Paddleboard Shop, said many of his clients initially used paddleboards for exercise and fitness while vacationing in California and Hawaii.

Fetter expressed that proper fitting is where the company excels.  No Snow fits each client with the proper board and equipment as well as giving dry-land safety and paddling instruction.

“It’s one of the best activities to shorten our hot summers, ”  Fetter said.

During the summer months, Saguaro Lake Ranch shifts its focus of operation from bed and breakfast guest ranch to kayak and tube rentals on the Salt River.  Located directly on the Salt River, below Stewart Mountain Dam, they specialize in renting single-person “Ocean Kayaks.”

John Bevell is one of the managers at SLR and expects the kayak and tubing season to begin sometime in May.  That’s when Salt River Project, who operates Stewart Mountain Dam, will begin to release water down the lower Salt River.  Bevell said SLR offers two trips of different lengths down the river.  The most popular is a two-hour paddle which covers approximately five miles of river and exits at a private administrative site called Foxtail.  A longer trip that spans 13 miles usually takes four to five hours and exits the river at Granite Reef Recreation Area.

Bevell said that kayak trips are typically unguided but safety and paddling instructions as well as on-the-water paddling practice are provided before each launch.  Both river trips launch right from the ranch several times each morning.  SLR provides all of the equipment, including life vest, back rest and paddle for your trip down river and a shuttle van back to “The Ranch.”

“Come dressed ready to get wet,”  Bevell advised.

Jon Colby, the Director of Single Day Programs at Arizona Outback Adventures, said his company offers guided kayak, paddleboard and raft tours on the Salt River.  Until summer flow levels make more of the river accessible, AOA has tours on the reservoir-like Granite Reef Basin.  This is the lowest section of the Salt River that is backed up by Granite Reef Dam near Mesa.  Colby said that kayak and paddleboard tours on Lake Pleasant are also available.  AOA provides everything you will need for your experience, from the equipment and guide to water and snacks.  All tours are by reservation.