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Day trip from Tempe: Salt River Rafting

Craving an adventure? How about rafting down the Salt River? Just a 2 1/2 hour drive from Tempe, you can have this adventure for yourself!

Me two co-workers took a day trip from Tempe to the Salt River recently, and loved it. We started our day in Tempe having coffee and muffins at local coffee house Gold Bar Espresso,  3141 S. McClintock Dr., Tempe, AZ 85282. When you walk through the doors you are welcomed into a cozy, at-home feeling. The rich colors, dark wood, and mix-and-match decor gives a relaxed feeling immediately. The first thing you’ll see is the extensive coffee menu on the wall. They have just about any coffee drink you can think of, and an abundant selection of custom mocha drinks. One of my favorites is the rolo mocha. This time I tried something new and ordered the chai mocha. It was rich with spice and just the right amount of mocha – so good. We got a few muffins to share and were on the road.

We hopped in the car and headed out to the Globe area for our water adventure, about a 2 to 2 1/2 hour drive from Tempe. Just about a half hour past the small town of Globe is where our tour company, Salt River Rafting, has their home base. Salt River Rafting’s river office is on the map at Hwy 60 and the Salt River, Mile Marker 293. Just after you pass over the river, there is a sign off to the left of the road directing you to the rafting companies. There are a couple different ones, so we kept our eyes peeled for the Salt River Rafting sign. They have a trailer full of gear, a small shop for souvenirs, a changing area and a couple of port-o-potties (which come in very handy after the drive). The friendly rafting guides walked right up and greeted us with big smiles. I immediately felt at ease with our guides for the day. They got each of us fitted with water shoes, helmets and life jackets. Then we were each handed an oar and started walking toward the water and the rafts we would be taking. Our guide, Cole, gave the group a thorough and entertaining safety and information talk before hopping into the raft.

After getting a few minutes to practice with our oars in hand, we went right into our first rapid of the day. Fun, exciting and adrenaline boosting is how I would describe the rapids! We definitely got wet, but dried off really quickly. The rapids aren’t continuous, so we were able to practice our rowing skills on the rough water and then take it easy when the water was calm. During the relaxing in-between moments on the river, Cole provided all kinds of interesting tidbits about the landscape, the river and the life of a river rat. There was storytelling, laughing and joking the whole way down. Cole even had one of my co-workers take the main oars for a few minutes to try his hand at being a river guide. He did pretty well, but decided to keep his day job.

Our half day rafting trip finished up around 1 p.m. Those of the group who were doing the full day trip continued on and were treated to lunch and a another round of rapids. The full day trip sounded like it would be really fun to try out soon. The Salt River Rafting company season is from February through early May. Reservations are highly recommended, but walk-ins can be accommodated if space is available. Visit for more information or to make a reservation.

We worked up a pretty strong appetite after rafting and straight to lunch at Irene’s Real Mexican Food in Globe. The food was hot, hearty and delicious. We all ordered different variations of enchiladas and had our fill of chips and salsa. We walked out full and happy!

The drive back to Tempe went surprisingly fast, and before we knew it we were there. This trip is a fun and easy way to get out and enjoy the Salt River and get a taste of adventure, all within an easy drive trip from Tempe! Check out our route with Google Maps.

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