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Remote southwestern canyons can be tricky to get into but can offer amazing fishing.

 


 

 


Finding a safe way into the bottom of a canyon can be difficult. Scout your routes in advance using topo maps.


Bringing a dog along is discouraged because of the difficulty of these types of hikes.

 


Once in the bottom there are unexpected rewards. Beaver Dam in Danstone Creek.

 


Always be very cautious of rattle snakes within drainage's.

 



East Verde River, Mazatzal Wilderness.

 


Teec Nos Pos Canyon, Carrizo Mountains



Some have very special wildlife

 


Unkar Creek, northern AZ

Conkin Creek during snow melt, Bear Wallow Wilderness.

 


Edge of the Colorado River near Page

 

No name spring

 

Arnett Creek near Superior

 

 

Sycamore Creek near Pine Mountain Wilderness

 

 

Sara's Crack near Lake Havasu.

 


Looking down into West Clear Creek, near Bald Hill.

 


Lynx Creek Narrows, Bradshaws

 


Beaver working the San Pedro River, southern AZ.

 


Upper Wet Beaver Creek Canyon begins

Trout Bumming in Remote Canyons and Canyoneering Fly fishing

 

Have you ever looked down into a deep canyon and felt a strong desire to hike into such a place? A desire that pulls you just around the next bend because the pool might be bigger or deeper? Maybe a waterfall is just ahead, or hidden rock art on canyon walls. 

We know that many of you will not be interested in venturing into these remote and scenic places. 
But... for those of you that are unusually drawn to deep canyons and flowing streams, wild fish this page is for you!

 

Never explore canyons during rainy periods, because of flash flooding. 

 

I love to seek out and explore unique and scenic drainage's within the southwest.  There are literally hundreds and hundreds of such locations throughout the west. Locating these wild canyon gems can be directly attributed to my work at a wildlife agency, word of mouth, and simply seeking them out using maps. This page outlines things to look for when searching for such places.

For me, Canyoneering has been defined as traveling canyons in search of perennial or intermittent creeks and is commonly done in remote and rugged areas and often requires navigational/route finding techniques and other wilderness travel skills. For me, I am exploring a canyon for the amazing scenery, flowing water, wildlife viewing and photographic opportunities. Oh yes and fly fishing for wild trout or other fish.

 

 

Canyoneering requires the following skills.
 

Canyoneering:

  • Hiking/Backpacking
  • Scrambling
  • Climbing
  • Jumping
  • Swimming
  • Non technical repelling
  • Camping in remote areas

 

In recent years Canyoneering has been re-defined. I refer to this activity instead as Technical Canyoneering. It is usually done as a group activity for safety reasons, while dressed in climbing safety equipment. Specific canyons are sought out that require the below skills. A beautifully photographed and award winning book on this subject is, Grand Canyoneering by Todd Martin, and is available for those who desire to learn more.


Technical Canyoneering in Black Canyon. Photo courtesy of Todd Martin
 

 

 

 

Technical Canyoneering:

  • Technical hiking
  • Technical descents while rappelling
  • Knowledge in rope work
  • Technical climbing or down climbing
  • Technical jumps
  • Technical swims
  • Camping in remote areas

 

 

 

The following is not a comprehensive list by far, but simply a few of my favorite trips, from the last 40 years. We have not provided maps only names and nearby landmarks. We had to search them out, so we will let you do the same. But I assure you, they are worth the detective work. If you don't want to do some detective work, in recent years books and websites have been published giving directions to more well known locations. This is a good place to start if you have never considered this type of hiking before. An excellent book listing some of these well known locations is, Canyoneering Arizona by Tyler Williams.

 

 

 

Fly Fishing Small Creeks
 

 

Prior to the fish stocking programs in the 1940's, an extensive creek inventory was conducted for healthy perennial and intermittent creeks in the West. Some of these lonely creeks were planted with trout after World War Two, and a review of historical stocking records at the Game and Fish Departments will reveal their locations.  

 

 


Wild trout in these creeks are usually small. Practice catch and release. 

 

Many still have fishable trout populations, even today. Check laws to see if they are open to fishing.  Please practice catch and release if you pursue wild trout in remote canyons. 
 

 

 

Example

 

1987 map of Arizona major waterways. Hundreds of other springs and flowing creeks are not listed on this map.  Many are nearby and tributaries to these major waterways.
 

Click Here for map of Ephemeral and Perennial Streams in AZ
 

 

For a canyon or spring to qualify for the below list it needs to have what I call...

High Scenic Value and Unique Features. Most of the below features need to be present.

 


Virgin River, northern AZ


 

High Scenic Value and Unique Features

  • Solitude
  • Riparian plant communities
  • Flowing water
  • Log and rock jams
  • Fish 
  • Waterfalls and or cascades
  • Lots of scenic beauty
  • Lots of bird life
  • Other wildlife
  • Pools or ponds
  • Unusual Rock Formations
  • Indian ruins & rock art
  • Old dams

 

 

Coyote caught in a recent flash flood within Waterholes Canyon, northern AZ. Be especially careful and never enter slot canyons during summer monsoon season. Rain from storms miles upstream can suddenly fill tightly walled slot canyons. 

 

 

Known creeks with High Scenic Value and Unique Features. 

Many other known creeks are not listed below, simply because we have never been to them. Refer to the many books and websites that provide additional information on commonly known canyons.

  • Upper Wet Beaver Creek
  • Upper Fossil Creek
  • Pumphouse Wash ... near Oak Creek
  • West Fork of Oak Creek... Sedona
  • Sycamore Creek... near Cottonwood
  • Cave Creek... Southern AZ
  • Thunder River ... Grand Canyon Ntl Park
  • North Creek... near House Rock Valley
  • Horton Creek...Mogollom Rim
  • Verde River ... from Lava Falls to Horsehoe Lake, best floated
  • Salt River Canyon ... above Hwy 60
  • Tonto Creek ... in the wilderness
  • Paria River... above the Colorado River
  • Aravaipa River... permit required
  • Madara Canyon...near Amado
  • Garden Canyon...Fort Huachuca
  • Tulle Creek...above Lake Pleasant
  • Black Canyon... near Cottonwood
  • Chevelon Creek... middle and lower stretches
  • W. Clear Creek... below Willow Creek
  • E. Clearcreek....below Blue Ridge Lake
  • Haigler Creek...  Near Rim Tank
  • Christopher Creek... near R. Bar C Ranch
  • Water Holes Canyon... near Echo Peaks
  • Workman Creek...Sierra Ancha Mountains

 

 

Canyon bottoms are difficult to walk in.

 

 

Unknown Creeks with high scenic value and unique features. 


NOTE: Most of these locations can be difficult to get to and require long hikes with no trails to follow. Some are accessible partly by horseback or mountain bike, although most are not, because of their rugged rocky features and very thick riparian bottoms. For some of these locations only a small portion of the drainage may have "High Scenic Value" and others may be loaded up for miles. Some may be located right next to major roads with easy access. A few will require climbing or repelling skills if you desire to go further.

 


 

 

Be very careful venturing into such locations and never go alone. This type of hiking can be dangerous.
 

  • Upper Burro Creek... in the wilderness
  • Upper Verde River... above and below Drake
  • Walnut Creek ... above Big Chino Wash
  • Eagle River...below Tulle Creek
  • Muldoon Canyon ... Verde River drainage
  • Upper Fish Creek
  • Upper Gila River...above Bonita Creek
  • Middle Turkey Creek ... above Cleator
  • Van Dam Spring... North Kaibab
  • Virgin River... near Utah border
  • Chimney Creek
  • Saras Crack ... Lake Havasu City
  • Upper Big Sandy River
  • Hassayampa River... in the wilderness
  • Upper Black and White Rivers.... on and off the Reservation
  • Dragon Wash.... Flagstaff
  • Munds Canyon ... Munds Park
  • Lousy Creek...  Agua Fria Monument
  • Tank Creek...   Agua Fria Monument
  • Secret Pass Spring... near Davis Dam
  • Trout Creek... in the wilderness
  • Point of Pines Creek ... Apache Indian Reservation
  • South Fork of Soap Creek (not flowing, just cool)... Glen Canyon Rec area.
  • Fall Creek... near Lake Powell
  • Canyon Creek ... above fish hatchery
  • Squaw Canyon... Parashant National Monument
  • Teec Nos Pos Canyon - Carrizo Mountains
  • Markham Creek ... near Goat Spring
  • Palm Canyon (no water, just cool) Kofa WL Refuge and well known
  • Bear Spring ...Saguaro National Park
  • Upper Rattlesnake Canyon ... near Holdup Springs
  • Carrizo Creek .... down stream from the town Carrizo
  • Upper Hurricane Creek... near Mt Baldy
  • Parker Creek ... Roosevelt Lake
  • Lee Valley Creek.... above the Lake and below in the canyon
  • Willow Creek ... near Pius Draw
  • Gordon Creek ... Hellsgate Wilderness
  • Deep Creek... Sierra Ancha Wilderness
  • Deadman Creek...  above Mountain Spring
  • San Pedro River...beaver reintroduction areas
  • Frye Creek... North side of MT Graham
  • Big Creek... near Snow Flat
  • Grant Creek... near Fort Grant Vista
  • Ash Creek... near Webb Peak
  • Chitty Creek... near Natanes Plateau
  • Raspberry Creek... near Blue


Big Water Slot Canyon, northern AZ/UT border

 

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