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 ten-mile stretch of the Verde River running between White Bridge River Access Point (RAP) and Beasley Flat RAP in Camp Verde 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 White Bridge to Beasley Flat, it is a manageable experience for most novice boaters. White Bridge RAP and Beasley Flat RAP are both located within the Prescott National Forest and are sites managed by the US Forest Service. Beasley Flat RAP is located near the start of the Wild & Scenic stretch of the Verde River. White Bridge and Beasley Flat RAPs are also popular fishing spots, where smallmouth and largemouth bass, channel and flathead catfish, and sunfish can be caught. There is also winter stocking of rainbow trout at the White Bridge site.
The Verde River was the first Wild and Scenic designation in Arizona. One of the Verde River’s tributaries, Fossil Creek, was designated soon afterwards. They are the only recognized Wild and Scenic rivers in the state. While the Verde River can be floated practically any month of the year, its primary river-running season occurs in the fall to spring months. Depending on the time of year, the water level can vary greatly. Boating below Beasley Flat, through Wild & Scenic stretch of the Verde, should only be attempted by experienced whitewater boaters as there are dangerous areas and rapids rating up to Class IV.
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.