Verde River

Of course, everything revolves around the life-giving Verde River. The story of human habitation, the agricultural bounty and astonishing diversity of flora and fauna begin and end with that watery ribbon twisting through arid uplands. There is a joyful defiance to a perennial flowing stream in Arizona, a sneer at looming desert and an embrace of possibilities.

The Verde River carves out delicious birding habitat. The lanky waterway creates a lush and lively ecosystem, home to over 200 species of bird. Dozens more use the Verde and tributaries as a migratory thoroughfare. Birding is a year-round activity in the region with the Verde Valley Birding and Nature Festival each spring serving as the Super Bowl of feather peeping.

Anglers fish the river and the lagoons at adjacent Dead Horse Ranch State Park for trout, bass, catfish and chub. With new access points added, recreational boating has become increasingly popular. The Verde River features several distinct stretches for kayakers and canoeists among long pools, gentle riffles and splashy whitewater.

Designated a Wild and Scenic River, the Verde still faces multiple threats as the number of people pumping groundwater from the watershed continues to grow. To protect this vital resource a collection of conservation groups, government agencies, business leaders and private landowners have banded together. They work to restore water flow and educate through tours, events and recreational opportunities. Anyone who spends time on the rare and beautiful Verde River becomes immediately invested in saving it.

the best travel advice comes from the people who live here
Roger Naylor