Verde River - Lower TAPCO to Tuzigoot

The Verde River is a unique and important resource in Arizona. In a desert state where free-flowing perennial water is rare, the verdant oasis of the Verde River provides a lush and refreshing contrast to the arid uplands through which it flows.  The Verde River and its riparian corridor is also a vital resource for wildlife in central Arizona, particularly for native fish and birds.  Several threatened and endangered species occur along the river, including the Northern Mexican garter snake, and Narrow-headed garter snake, and endangered native fish species such as razorback sucker, Colorado pike minnow, and spikedace. Breeding bird densities in some mature cottonwood and willow stands along the Verde River have exceeded one thousand pairs per 100 acres. This is the highest avian density ever recorded in North America.

The four-mile stretch of the Verde River running between the Lower TAPCO River Access Point (RAP) and the Tuzigoot RAP in Clarkdale is a popular retreat for recreation, including boating in kayaks and canoes, fishing, picnicking, birdwatching and other wildlife viewing.  While there are a few riffles and Class I and II rapids along the stretch of the Verde River from Lower TAPCO to Tuzigoot, it is a manageable experience for most novice boaters. 

The Lower TAPCO RAP and the Tuzigoot RAP are both managed by the Town of Clarkdale and are currently the highest upstream designated and developed public river access points on the Verde River.  During normal river flow conditions (60-150 cfs), the float between these two river access points takes approximately 2 hours in a kayak or canoe.  Unlike other sections of the Verde River where water flows can vary greatly, the flows on this stretch are consistent year-round. 

The majority of the land between these two river access points is private property.  The success of our efforts to increase access to the Verde River depends upon cooperation with, and respect for, private property owners.  Please pay attention to all private property and any signs posted along the river.  Do not pull over on private lands.  Do not camp, build fires or trespass on private property.  It is the floaters responsibility to know where they are at all times.

Approximately half-way between the Lower TAPCO RAP and the Tuzigoot RAP, boaters will encounter the Brewer’s Tunnel Diversion Dam where they must exit the river to portage around the dam.  Signage on river left warns boaters as they approach the dam.  Built in 1913 by the United Verde Copper Company, the Brewer’s Tunnel Dam is part of a historic irrigation system that diverts water from the Verde River to nearby Peck’s Lake.   The owners of this private land permit recreational users to cross their property in order to portage around the dam. 

The Town of Clarkdale has designated an area on the Verde River @ Clarkdale as a Quiet Zone.  This area is surrounded by private, residential property and, like other stretches of the river, is home to abundant wildlife.  Please respect the Quiet Zone designation by keeping voices to a conversational level and quietly observing your surroundings.  Signs are posted throughout the Quiet Zone so that boaters know when they enter and leave this area.

Boating the Verde River is a treat; however, conditions can vary greatly in relation to temperature, weather, water level, and other factors. All persons intending to run this river are responsible for personally assessing these conditions, as well as their own ability to cope with them. All recreational use of this type involves a degree of risk, and boaters are responsible for their own safety.

 

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Latitude: 34.793648 Longitude: -112.051231 Elevation: 3396 ft
the best travel advice comes from the people who live here
Jodie Filardo

Best Access and Parking Areas

The recommended river access points for boating the Verde River through Clarkdale are the Lower TAPCO RAP as the put-in, and the Tuzigoot RAP as the take-out. 

The Lower TAPCO RAP is located at 3400 Sycamore Canyon Road in Clarkdale.  Sycamore Canyon Road is paved for the first 1.4 miles north from its intersection with Tuzigoot Road.  After 1.4 miles, the road turns to dirt for the final .80 miles to the gravel entrance to the Lower TAPCO RAP.  The driveway entrance is clearly marked with signage.  Travel on the dirt section of Sycamore Canyon Road can be compromised during heavy rain events due to muddy conditions.

On entering the Lower TAPCO RAP, visitors must register their vehicles at a self-pay station at the site entrance.  Vehicle registration is mandatory, but the $5 recommended donation is voluntary and helps offset the operational costs of the site. 

The Tuzigoot RAP is located at 15 E. Tuzigoot Road and the address is posted at the driveway entrance.  Access to the site is from a gravel driveway that leads to a 4 acre dirt surfaced parking area.  In addition to ample general parking, two handicap accessible parking spaces are adjacent to an approximately 400 foot ADA pathway that leads to a shaded, scenic overlook of the Verde River.

 

Rules and Regulations for Fishing Area

Fishing is a popular activity at both the Lower TAPCO and the Tuzigoot RAPs and is allowed according to State of Arizona regulations and with the proper license.

From November through March, the Arizona Game and Fish Department uses the Tuzigoot RAP as a winter trout stocking location, making the area around the Tuzigoot Bridge a favorite fishing spot for locals.

Eco-Friendly Notes

Visitors to the Verde River are encouraged to practice “Leave No Trace” ethics when enjoying the Verde River. As more people discover and enjoy the Verde, we all have a stake in making sure the river stays healthy, continues to provide important habitat for wildlife, and remains an enjoyable, beautiful place for future generations to cherish.

Visitors should pack in/pack out all trash and deposit it in the centralized trash receptacle in the general parking area.  Picnicking is encouraged, but campfires are not allowed at the River Access Points or along the river.

 

ADA Accessibility Notes

At the Lower TAPCO RAP, all parking lots are hard packed gravel/dirt and pathways are unimproved over natural and uneven terrain.  Although still on uneven surface, there is a designated parking space for visitors with disabilities to use at the picnic area on the river’s edge.

At the Tuzigoot RAP, there are two developed two ADA parking spaces and an approximately 400 foot ADA pathway that leads to a viewing platform overlooking the Verde River.  All other parking areas are hard packed gravel/dirt and other pathways are unimproved over natural and uneven terrain.

 

Pet Friendly Notes

Pets on leash are allowed. Please be aware this is a natural area, frequented by a variety of wildlife.  Please watch your pets to keep them safe, and do not allow them to harass wildlife.

Please remember to clean up after your pet, as water quality can be impacted by pet waste.  Mutt mitts are usually available in the parking lot area for visitor convenience.  Be sure to leave the Verde River clean and healthy for others to enjoy as well!

 

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