Arizona’s Salt River | Thomas Watkins

If you’re visiting Arizona during the spring wildflower season (the end of March through most of April) you may want to check out the area around the Salt River.

In this mountains region of Arizona's high desert east of the Phoenix (central) valley you’ll be rewarded with wonderful mountain views like this one of Red Mountain as it's shrouded by storm clouds or the other mountains that tower above the river. 

Photography wall art of the Salt River with ripples across the water’s surface and Red Mountain in the background covered in clouds. Photography wall art of Arizona's Salt River flowing below rocky cliff faces.

There are also many species of wildflowers that can be found there. Last week I was able to get out and photograph some various wildflowers found along the Salt River such as Lupins, Poppies and Indian Paintbrush. Here's some of the results.

A purple lupin stands in stark contrast amoung poppies. Poppies and lupins add color to a field of green grass. Indian paintbrush blooms and purple lupins. 

A field of Indian Paintbrushes cover the ground of Arizona's Salt River landscape.

Geological Facts

Here's a bit of info that I had no idea pays to do some research! For instance did you know that the Salt River runs for about two hundred miles East and West through Gila and Maricopa counties and another two hundred North and South all the way up to Flagstaff as another tributary... the Verde River?

Later last year and earlier this year I've been really focused on improving my wildlife photography. The Salt River has been (and will continue to be) one of my goto places. Mainly because of the wild horses. But there are also, Snowy Egrets, Great Blue Herons, Hawks and other wildlife that I gain access to. So far I've had the opportunity to spend a couple evenings photographing the wild horses so here are a few photos of them.

A salt river wild horse charges through water.  A salt river wild horse walks through water approaching my location.  Four salt river wild horses stand together. 

I plan on going back to  get some other photos but right now the river is flooded and most access is closed as I'm writing this.

I had a fun time photographing a Great Blue Heron too! I spent a lot of time hanging out with him and let him get comfortable with my presence. I watched as he slowly crossed the river occasionally plunging his dagger like bill into the water in an attempt to get a fish. Here's an interesting little tidbit of information about them that I recently learned, according to North American Native tradition, the Blue Heron brings messages of self-determination and self-reliance! Supposedly, they represent personal progress and evolution. The long thin legs reflect that an individual doesn't need great massive pillars to remain stable, but is able to stand on one's own. Anyway, here's some photos from that morning.



Local Recreation

The Salt River is a popular location to visit for many locals looking to cool off in the summer months with tubing and kayaking offered through Saguaro Lake Guest Ranch. There is plenty of fishing available too! Along the river you can fish for Rainbow Trout (which are stocked during winter), Carp, Largemouth Bass, Catfish and Sunfish to name a few. You can find more info via the Outdoorsman Fishing Guide.

A Brief History

From Sonora tiger salamanders to the spa goers at the local resorts, all have the Salt River to thank.

Created thousands of years ago by the ancestors of the O’odham peoples who used stone tools to carve out hundreds of miles of canals, the Salt River is part of the largest and most complex irrigation system in ancient North America transforming the Phoenix valley into the home of nearly 5 million people that it is today.