Globetrotting: Salt River Canyon

If you look up “best things to do in Globe” on TripAdvisor, the #1 recommendation is to drive the Salt River Canyon.  While I wish the top choice about Globe was actually IN Globe, I also understand the fascination with this locale.  I had no idea what I was heading into the first time I completed this drive. It took my breath away! Now I try to stop on most of my trips through the canyon to look at the view, walk the old bridge (now pedestrian only), or briefly hike down to the river. 

The old and new bridges at the Salt River Canyon. Photo by Thea Wilshire.

The Salt River is a 200-mile tributary of the Gila River and the canyon is an approximately 2200 foot gorge that serves as the demarcation between the White Mountain Apache and San Carlos Apache reservations.  This section of Highway 60 first opened in 1938 and features dramatic hairpin turns on both sides of the canyon and amazing views (if you are the driver, it’s tempting to look while driving, but please use the pull-outs to stop safely before enjoying the view).  The bridge across the Salt River was upgraded in 1993 and is adjacent to the earlier bridge, both of which are picturesque in their own right.

Apaches gathered salt for generations from the Salt River – hence the name.  You can get a permit from the White Mountain Tribe to hike the stunningly beautiful Cibecue Creek Falls Trail with a trailhead west of the Salt River Canyon bridge, listed as one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the state.  On the San Carlos Apache side, just a few miles south of the Salt River, Seneca Falls is quite different from Cibecue Falls, easily accessible, and one of my favorite hidden treasures. It is maybe a 5-minute drive off Highway 60 and can be reached by passing along the north side of Seneca Lake, then going about 2 minutes down the road after the holding dam. The road dead-ends at the falls. If you are planning to visit, please purchase a wilderness permit from the Tribe first.

For those up for a little adventure, you can raft the Salt River in the spring and summer when water levels allow (this year is great!).  It is highly recommended that you use professional guides for this adventure as the river has very dangerous currents for the uninformed.  I enjoyed one of these tours and was surprised by the diversity in currents on the river and flora/fauna off the river.

The Salt River Canyon and all of its treasures are some of many things I love about our region.

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