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Book with Confidence

Our new flexible booking conditions include a 7-day refund guarantee and free trip changes.


6 days
SwimTrek Classic

Tour Highlights

  • Join us on this adventurous swimming holiday in Arizona's famous Wild West

  • Immerse yourself in the impressive landscapes and refreshing waters of Tonto National Forest

  • Complete breathtaking swims amongst the cliff and canyons of this unique part of the United States

  • Explore the beauty of the Apache Trail and surroundings of Saguaro Lake, Canyon Lake and Apache Lake

  • Relax at the charming and rustic Saguaro Lake Ranch

Discover some of the most breathtaking landscapes in North America with this truly unique swimming holiday amongst the rivers, lakes and canyons of Arizona’s stunning Salt River region. This incredibly beautiful trip features an adventurous itinerary where we’ll swim alongside some of the state’s most remarkable natural scenery and have the chance to see the area’s local wildlife in their natural habitat.

Surrounded by the impressive cliffsides where the Salt River flows through the Tonto National Forest, this SwimTrek adventure is one of our more unusual trips. The river is chiselled between deep canyons, steep lakeside cliffs, and a meandering river course through Arizona’s Sonoran Desert, creating a lake and river setting that will have you telling stories of ‘swimming in the Wild West’ for years to come. Over the course of the trip, we swim the length of entire canyons, with mountain peaks reaching high up above as we pass by.

It’s not just the swimming that makes this a trip of a lifetime. Our itinerary see us explore the surroundings of Saguaro Lake, Canyon Lake and Apache Lake as our journey takes us through Arizona's Tonto National Forest. The panoramic views we’ll have of the surrounding canyons are often described as some of the most impressive in the whole of the United States. We stay at the secluded Saguaro Lake Ranch, which is a comfortable, rustic base for the duration of the trip and has echoes of a bygone era of gold prospecting, cattle drives and gunfights. Every day we’ll enjoy delicious home cooked meals, often in a cowboy style cookout under the stars.

Who is this trip for?

This trip is for swimmers who love the idea of swimming in beautiful freshwater in some of the most stunning landscapes in North America. Its remote nature makes it the perfect place to switch off and just focus on enjoying relaxing swims. Swimmers should have a basic understanding of open water swimming and be capable of completing the average daily swim distance of around 5km (split over a minimum of two swims) prior to the start of the trip.

What's included?

  • Fully guided swimming holiday in Arizona, USA
  • Swim guides and full safety escort on all swims
  • Technique advice with video playback
  • Five nights accommodation
  • All breakfasts
  • All lunches
  • All dinners
  • Return SwimTrek arranged transfer to Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport

What's not included?

  • Travel to the start of the tour
  • Gratuity for other services, asides from accommodation and meals

Related Trips

Daily Itineraries

Please note that the below daily itineraries are an example of the swims that may take place during the course of your trip, however, actual swim locations and distances will vary according to local weather and sea conditions. Your SwimTrek guides and local boat pilot will determine the most suitable swim locations each day and will communicate the plan with all guests as soon as possible.

Day 1

After your arrival at the Saguaro Lake Ranch, you will have time to check in to your accommodation before meeting in the ranch’s living room at 16:00 for a welcome drink and safety briefing in which you’ll have a chance to meet your fellow SwimTrekkers and SwimTrek guides.

Depending on the water release schedule from the Saguaro Lake Dam, we will either swim in the Salt River or head to Saguaro Lake for our acclimatisation swim. Following this, it’s time for the first of our delicious camp cowboy cookout dinners at the ranch.

Day 2

We start the first full day of the trip swimming at Saguaro Lake. We jump aboard our escort boats and head to the far end of Saguaro Lake to Wallace Beach, which is a few hundred metres down from Mormon Flat Dam that divides Saguaro and Canyon Lakes. From Wallace Beach, we swim between narrow canyon walls until we reach Bagley Point, which is an ideal lunch spot.

After lunch, we swim in a horseshoe direction from Bagley Point towards Ship Rock, a natural rock formation in the middle of Saguaro Lake. On this swim, the landscape begins to open up and we get our first glimpses of Brown’s Peak and the other summits of the Four Peaks Wilderness Area.

In the evening we have a technique session in the ranch’s swimming pool, followed by an advice and video playback session with your swim guides, where we playback the recordings and provide feedback on your stroke.

Day 3

It’s a full day today as we venture to Lake Apache to explore the most distant and longest lake in the Salt River system. Our drive takes in incredible mountain views as we cross the Tonto National Forest and Roosevelt Lake. This scenic drive along parts of the Apache Trail is like stepping back in time; you can almost see the prospectors searching for gold.

Our morning swim ventures into the narrow Alder Creek from where we strike out west towards Long Canyon. The views on this swim are some of the most visually stunning of the whole week as we swim through a landscape reminiscent of the Grand Canyon.

After time to rest and have lunch in Long Canyon, the afternoon sun lights up the Painted Cliffs rock formations and we’ll swim towards the Horse Mesa Dam which separates Apache from Canyon Lake.

On the return journey, time permitting, there is an opportunity to stop off either at Jake’s Diner or the saloon in Tortilla Flat, for a refreshment or two.

Day 4

We embrace our Wild West setting this morning as we drive to Canyon Lake. Cacti line our route and we’ll pass by Goldfield Ghost Town, deserted mines and magnificent mountains. From our Canyon Lake launch point of Labarge Point, we can clearly see Mormon Flat Dam in the distance. We enter the lake at Fallacy Cove and swim north-eastwards on one of our longest swims of the trip. We take in Russ Cove and Bass Creek before exiting the water at The Point, where we have stunning views of the mountain peaks above.

In the afternoon, we undertake a shorter swim from The Point to Crucifix Gorge, which features a lake crossing, followed up by a swim down the gorge’s entire length, which offers a nice contrast to the main lake.

Day 5

It’s an early start today for our second day on Canyon Lake. Today’s swims take us deep into the more remote eastern section of this meandering lake. The canyon looms large overhead and it is an impressive sight from the water. From Skull Cove, which lies next to Crucifix Gorge, we’ll journey past Waterfall Lagoon, Blue Tank Cove and Saucito Point before arriving at Eagle Rock, where we’ll enjoy today’s lunch on the sandy beach beyond Eagle Bend. After lunch, we undertake the last leg of Canyon Lake and explore the beautiful tributary of Fish Creek. The Creek is like a labyrinth of side channels and is a great way to finish our time at Canyon Lake. In the evening, the ranch hosts another cowboy cookout, which is a fitting last dinner underneath the impressive canopy of Arizona stars.

Day 6

We head back up to Saguaro Lake and set off on this morning’s semi circumnavigation of the Tonto Peninsula, of which Mt Pinter dominates the skyline. We start from Ship Rock and swim via Razorback Point and Campers Cove before finally landing at Peregrin Cove, located on the Butcher Jones Trail. If time allows, there is an opportunity to have a short walk along the track at the end of our swim.

In the afternoon, it’s our final swim of the trip, as we complete the length of Saguaro Lake by swimming towards Saguaro Del Norte. It’s an easy place to spot as sheer cliffs rise above the beach below, and it is a fitting finish to our trip at the foot of the mountains that have lined our swims throughout the week.

After completing our last swim, we have our final chance to take in southwestern scenery on our drive back to Phoenix, where we drop you at Sky Harbor Airport in order to catch an evening flight, rent a car or extend your stay in Arizona.

Trip Schedule

Start Point: Saguaro Lake Ranch, Saguaro, Arizona

Start Time: 16:00 on Day 1

Finish Point: Sky Harbor Airport, Phoenix, Arizona

Finish Time: 18:00 on Day 6

Trip Information

Equipment Checklist

In addition to your daily non-swimming clothes, we also recommend that you bring the following items:

Item Item
Swimming Costume (x2) Waterproof Jacket
Swimming Googles* (x2) Sweater / Fleece
Sunhat and Sunglasses Walking Boots
Waterproof Sun Cream Aqua Shoes / Sandals
Small Daypack Insect Repellent

*Try to bring one clear lens and one tinted lens for different light conditions.

Please note that SwimTrek will supply swim hats and provide water and electrolyte drinks in shared water bottles on your safety boat. If you prefer to use your own drink bottle, please feel free to bring one along. If you would like to use a wetsuit, rash vest or fins during your swims, please ensure that you bring these with you.

Swimming Distances

Swim Distance
Wallace Beach - Bagley Flats 3½km
Bagley Flats - Ship Rock 2½km
Alder Creek - Long Canyon 3km
Long Canyon - Horse Mesa Dam 2km
Fallacy Cove – The Point 3½km
The Point – Crucifix Gorge 1½km
Skull Cove – Eagle Rock 2½km
Eagle Rock – Fish Creek 3km
Ship Rock – Peregrin Cove 3km
Peregrin Cove - Del Norte 2km

Walking Distances

There is a limited amount of walking on this trip, mostly around the ranch and on the Butcher Jones Trail around Saguaro Lake. There are some lovely trails situated around the ranch, which you can choose to enjoy small hikes on before or after the swims. Most walks take place on recognised paths and tracks, however there may be cases where we walk along trails or other unsealed surfaces and care should be taken in these areas.


Month Water Temperature* Air Temperature*
September 23-26°C / 73-79°F 27-31°C / 81-88°F
October 22-24°C / 72-75°F 25-29°C / 77-84°F

*Please note that these temperatures are indicative and should be used as a guide only.

Swimming Conditions

Although they do not appear so in colour, these lakes have some of Western America’s cleanest fresh water, however, as with any lakes around the world, water quality can vary. If you do feel unwell at any stage after the trip, you should go to your GP immediately and let them know what you have been doing.

Weather Caveat

For safety reasons, we rely on decent weather conditions when carrying out our swims. As a consequence, open water swimming holidays require a certain degree of on-trip flexibility which can result in changes to the planned itinerary. These changes often add a touch of uniqueness to your trip and will be communicated to you by your SwimTrek guides as quickly as possible.

Group Size

This trip has a maximum group size of 14. The group will be split into a maximum of two groups, based on speed, with each group being accompanied by their own safety vessel/escort. 

Boat support on this trip includes two pontoon boats to be piloted by your SwimTrek guides. Please note that this boat support is subject to change without notice and cannot be guaranteed.

Getting There

The easiest way to get to the start of your trip is to fly into Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and then catch the designated SwimTrek transfer to our accommodation. The airport is serviced by a large selection of domestic and international flights and is located 32 miles from Saguaro Lake Ranch. It has also been dubbed ‘America’s friendliest airport.’

It is also possible to travel via Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, which is located just 25 miles from Saguaro Lake Ranch, however, please note that there are limited flight arrivals into this airport.

While we have outlined various travel options below, they are subject to change and should be used as a guide only. We suggest that you use Skyscanner to search for alternative flight options for this trip.

Whichever route you choose to take, we recommend confirming your flights and other travel arrangements as early as possible in order to avoid price rises and availability issues.

Flights to Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport

To search for available flights into Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, please visit Skyscanner.

Designated SwimTrek Transfer to Saguaro Lake Ranch

A designated SwimTrek transfer from Phoenix Sky Harbour Airport departs from the parking lot of PHX Sky Train Station (44th St/Washington) at 13:30 on Day 1 of your trip. The cost of the service is £30 per person. To book this transfer, please add it as an extra on your booking then contact the SwimTrek office with your arrival details into Phoenix Sky Harbour Airport. The transfer will be added to your booking and will need to be paid for via your SwimTrek account prior to the start of your trip.

Taxi from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport to Saguaro Lake Ranch

There are limited public transport options to Saguaro Lake Ranch. If your travel plans do not coincide with the time of the designated SwimTrek transfer or the maximum number of passengers has already been reached, it’s possible to catch a taxi from outside the airport arrivals hall. The journey time to Saguaro Lake Ranch is approximately 40 minutes and costs around $80-$120. Parking is available at the ranch, if necessary.

Flights to Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport

To search for available flights into Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, please visit Skyscanner. For further information about travelling via this airport, please visit Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport.

Return Transfer to Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport

After your final swim on the last day of your trip, you will be transferred back to Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, where your trip will come to an end. Please note that this transfer will arrive at approximately 18:00. This transfer is included in the cost of your trip.

Practical Information


Saguaro Lake Ranch, on the banks of the Salt River, is our home in Arizona’s Tonto National Forest. The accommodation is in rustic cabins in the shadow of the majestic Bulldog Cliffs, with panoramic views of the Four Peaks Wilderness. After our action-packed days of swimming, the ranch is a secluded oasis where you can relax and unwind with your fellow swimmers under idyllic star-lit skies.

Our accommodation is based on twin-share cabins with private bathrooms, air-conditioning and heating. There are a limited number of single supplement rooms which can be reserved during the booking process, subject to availability. If you would like to extend your stay at Saguaro Lake Ranch and need to book additional nights’ accommodation before or after your trip, please contact the hotel directly via


All breakfasts, lunches and dinners are included. Our meals are wonderfully prepared from scratch in the ranch kitchen using fresh ingredients. A hearty, buffet-style breakfast is served in the unique dining room, with tables and chairs surrounding a giant Saguaro cactus skeleton. We take a packed lunch with us each day and enjoy a delicious dinner at the ranch on each night of the trip.

Extra Expenses

You should bring extra money with you to cover such items as souvenirs and drinks. The local currency is US dollars ($US). Beer and wine are available on site at the ranch, payable locally. There is no ATM at the ranch or at the Saguaro Lake Marina, so we recommend bringing cash with you to cover these expenses.

Please note, gratuity for your accommodation and meals is included in your package. We suggest a tip of between 5-10% for services such as private transfers or taxis.

Passports and Visas

Non-residents of the United States require a full passport to enter the country, which should be valid for six months beyond the expected length of stay. The majority of visitors to the US require a visa to enter the country. Many nationalities can apply online for the ESTA Visa Waiver Program by visiting ESTA. For further information about US visas, please visit US State Department

Please note that visa regulations are subject to change and we advise that you check your own visa requirements prior to travel.

Health Information and Recommended Vaccinations

For comprehensive health information for people travelling to COUNTRY, including all recommended and required vaccinations, please visit Travel Health Pro. Please note that this information is subject to change and you should re-check this site regularly prior to your trip.

Travel Plugs & Electricity

For a useful source of information on the different electrical outlets, electrical plugs, and electric sockets, please visit

  • Spectacular swims through towering canyons. A beautiful ranch with outstanding food. AZ should be on your SwimTrek bucket list.

    Shady H, USA - 2019
  • Arizona Canyons: stunning landscape, clean and calm water, and great swimming. A real unplug.

    Anna M, USA - 2019
  • I did not realize how beautiful swimming in Arizona could be.

    Maayan G, USA - 2019
  • Stunning location, amazing food, a guide I may love forever, but the thing that always makes the trips for me is that Swimtrek magic, where you start the week with 12 strangers with whom you seem to have nothing in common (except swimming), and end it one big richly interconnected family. If you ever get the chance to swim through Arizona or with Marlys, take it!

    Kate R, UK - 2018
  • I had great expectations of this trip. The reality far exceeded them.

    Keren L, UK - 2018
  • What a fantastic Swimtrek trip! Wonderful swims in a unique setting, fantastic guides (Marlys & Mark) and wonderful hospitality at the ranch.

    Michelle G, UK - 2018
  • This is by far the best swimtrek I have been on. Between Marlys the guide, the Lodge staff and Blaze the chef they made this trip a truly memorable adventure.

    Sarah F, UK- 2017
  • What an inspiring landscape and experience! Thank you to Marlys and the ranch team for a once-in-a-lifetime trip.

    Izzy, P. UK- 2017
  • Swimming along the narrow canyons in Canyon Lake and seeing the bald eagle on the rock - Wow! Doesn't get much better than that

    Salle D, UK-2017
  • This was the vacation of my dreams... swimming and exploring Arizona's beauty! Everything from my safety to my comfort was taken into account. Plus, I met many wonderful people on this escapade. I'd love to go again and again.

    Anicia C. USA - 2017
  • I will be doing a SwimTrek trip every year until I am too old to make the trips!

    Gwen S. USA - 2017

Book with Confidence

Our new flexible booking conditions include a 7-day refund guarantee and free trip changes.

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