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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Wildcat Road Trip: The Salt River

    It was 7 a.m. when a group of 15 left Tucson last weekend for a day of tubing down the Salt River. At the start of the trip, we were all cranky and tired, eating convenience store doughnuts for breakfast and wondering why the hell we woke up this early in the first place.

    An hour later, we were entering Phoenix. That’s when the fun began.

    If you share the belief that Phoenix is nothing more than a big sprawling mass of buildings and highways, you have never been introduced to the one thing it has that Tucson doesn’t: a big river that allows hundreds of people to jump on a rubber tube and float for either two, three or five hours at a time.

    If you’ve never gone tubing, here’s the gist of it:

    -Groups of people tie their rubber tubes together with rope and form masses of tubes that run into other groups of tubes, creating a mini-river party.

    -Every group has a cooler filled with some sort of beverage to try to beat the heat (usually alcohol, but I recommend soda if you’re under 21), and for the most part, everyone is more than willing to share.

    -Throughout the float, there are banks where you can stop off to rest or cook, and, toward the end of the river, there are giant cliffs where tubers stop to jump.

    -Every now and then you’ll float by a giant raft that’s decked out with speakers blaring Coolio or Dr. Dre, and, sometimes, the people on that giant raft will throw marshmallows and beads at you … just to say hello.

    Lucky for me, the group of people I went with to the river came prepared. Not only did we bring a stereo and two coolers, we also brought a barbecue and hot dogs, which let us stop off on a riverbank halfway through our five-hour jaunt and cook to refuel. I highly recommend this.

    Throughout the float, I took time to look around at how beautiful it really is. Sure, the water is not all that clean, but the scenery is awesome. Giant walls of pinkish-red rock surround the river, and little spurts of green come from the occasional mesquite tree. Nothing about the river feels like the Phoenix I thought I knew.

    Unfortunately, my dreaming and observing only lasted so long. About every 10 minutes, someone yelled out “”Whooooo,”” and chugged a beer or tossed a marshmallow in my lap and I realized the real appeal of the Salt River: It’s a great place to spend an entire day with the people that you love, and make a few new friends in the process.

    Only two hours away, the Salt River is perfect for a mini-road trip on the weekend. My only advice: do not drive up and park at the top without a permit – you’ll get a ticket, and it’s easier to take the buses (they’re free); make sure you bring sunblock and sealable plastic bags to put shoes in; and, if you plan on renting a tube, bring a sheet to cover it … the black rubber gets really hot!

    Oh yeah … and have fun!

    Directions:

    -Take 1-10 West to U.S. Highway 60

    -Take Highway 60 to Power Road

    -Exit at Power Road, turn left, drive about seven miles until a four-way stop sign

    -Salt River Tubing is on the left side of the intersection

    For more information, check out www.saltrivertubing

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