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Tour Highlights

  • Join us on this action-packed swimming holiday in Arizona's famous Wild West

  • Immerse yourself in the dynamic landscapes and crystal clear waters of Tonto National Forest

  • Complete truly 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

  • Get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life at the charming and rustic Saguaro Lake Ranch

Be transported back in time to America’s Wild West with this truly unique and unforgettable swimming holiday amongst the rivers, lakes and canyons of Arizona’s stunning Salt River region. This is a jaw-droppingly beautiful trip with an action-packed itinerary which takes in the breathtaking natural scenery and local wildlife that exist in the area.

From the familiar stories of famous cowboys, Indians, sheriffs and outlaws, to the dynamic landscape where the Salt River flows through the Tonto National Forest, this really is a SwimTrek adventure like no other. The river is chiselled with 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 ‘swimming in the Wild West’ stories 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. This is a get-away-from-it-all vacation where you'll feel like you're on the set of your favourite cowboy movie.

Of course, it’s not just the swimming that makes this a trip of a lifetime. Our action-packed days see us explore the surroundings of Saguaro Lake, Canyon Lake and Apache Lake. Our journey takes us through Arizona's National Forest, with panoramic views of the surrounding canyons, often described as some of the most visually stunning 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.

Who is this trip for?

This trip is designed for the swimmer who relishes the idea of swimming in the lakes and rivers of one of the most visually stunning landscapes in North America. If you like the idea of being totally away from the bustle of modern day life, this is certainly the trip for you! Swimmers should have a good understanding of open water swimming and be capable of completing the average daily swim distance of around 5km.

What's included?

  • Fully guided swimming holiday in Arizona, USA
  • Swim guides and full safety escort on all swims
  • Video and stroke analysis
  • Five nights accommodation
  • All breakfasts
  • All lunches
  • All dinners

What's not included?

  • Travel to and from the start of the tour
  • Evening drinks

Day 1

After your arrival at the Saguaro Lake Ranch, you will have time to check into your accommodation before meeting in our living room at 16:00. Our pre-trip briefing details the week's plans and safety information and gives you the chance to start getting to know your fellow SwimTrekkers and 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 the acclimatisation swim. Following our swim it’s time for the first of our delicious camp cowboy cookout dinners.

Day 2

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

Following lunch we swim in a horseshoe direction from Bagley Point to Ship Rock, situated directly in the middle of the Lake. On this swim, the landscape starts to open up and we get our first glimpses of Browns Peak and the other summits of the Four Peaks Wilderness Area.

The early evening is given over to a pool coaching session in the ranch’s own swimming pool followed by a video session with your swim guides where we play back your stroke.

Day 3

A full day today as we venture to Lake Apache to explore our furthest-most lake in the Salt River system. Our drive along takes in incredible mountain views as we traverse the Tonto National Forest and Lake Roosevelt. This scenic drive along parts of the Apache Trail is like stepping back in time; you can almost see the prospectors searching for gold. This isolated lake is the longest of any of the Salt River’s Lakes. 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 eerily reminiscent of the Grand Canyon.

After time to rest and have lunch in Long Canyon, the afternoon sun warmly lights the inspiring Painted Cliffs rock formations as we make our way by swimming our way near to the Horse Mesa Dam which separates Apache from Canyon Lake. On this swim there is an opportunity to take in the vibrant gold light as we conclude our Apache Lake swimming.

On the return journey, time permitting, there is an opportunity to stop off at Jakes Bar in Mud Spring, for a refreshment.

Day 4

We embrace our Wild West setting this morning as we drive to Canyon Lake. Cacti line our route which passes 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, taking in Russ Cove and Bass Creek before exiting the water at The Point, from where we have stunning views of the 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

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 site from the water. From Skull Cove, which lies next to Crucifix Gorge, we journey past Waterfall Lagoon, Blue Tank Cove and Seucito Point before arriving at Eagle Rock.

Today’s lunch is enjoyed on the sandy beach beyond Eagle Bend. After lunch, we then undertake the last leg of Canyon Lake and explore Fish Creek, a stunning tributary of Canyon Lake. The Creek is like a labyrinth of side channels and a great way to finish our time at Canyon Lake.

In the evening, the Ranch hosts a cowboy cookout which is a fitting last dinner underneath the Arizona stars.

Day 6

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

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 in this pristine land of gorges and canyons.

From here we have our final chance to take in southwestern scenery on our drive back to Phoenix, where we can 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 Shoes / Sandals
Waterproof Sun Cream Aqua Shoes / Sandals
Small Daypack Insect Repellent

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

SwimTrek will supply swim hats. We will have a limited supply/range of flippers, rash vests and wetsuits available on the trip, however we cannot guarantee sizes for all. If you have your own flippers, rash vest or wetsuit, we would recommend you bring these with you in order to maximise your enjoyment of the trip. Please note that SwimTrek will 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.

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
Peregrin Cove - Del Norte 2km

Walking Distances

There is a limited amount of trekking on this trip, mostly around the Ranch and also on Saguaro Lake on the Butcher Jones Trail. Treks are on designated paths and tracks and comfortable shoes or sturdy sandals are suitable.


Month Water Temperature* Air Temperature*
September 21-24°C / 70-75°F 26-29°C / 79-84°F
October 21-24°C / 70-75°F 26-29°C / 79-84°F

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

Swimming Conditions

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, telling them 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 has a large selection of domestic and international flights and is located 33 miles from Saguaro Lake Ranch. It has also been dubbed ‘America’s friendliest airport.’

Flying via Phoenix Sky Harbor International 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. 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.

Listed below are some the airlines which fly into Phoenix Sky Harbor airport.

Airline Departure Airports
American Airways Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, JFK, Portland, Newark, Washington
Alaska Airlines Portland
British Airways Heathrow
Delta Atlanta, JFK
Jet Blue JFK
WestJet Calgary
United Calgary, Dulles, Newark, Washington

Flying via Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport

Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport is a smaller airport, located just 24 miles from Saguaro Lake Ranch, however please note that it has limited flight arrivals. For more information about travelling via this airport, please visit:

Designated SwimTrek Transfer to Saguaro Lake Ranch

A designated SwimTrek transfer departs Phoenix Sky Harbour Airport at 13:30 on Day 1 of your trip (Sunday). The cost of the service is £15 per person up to a maximum of eight passengers. To book this transfer, please 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.

Independent travel 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 private SwimTrek transfer, taxis are available outside the airport. Journey time is approximately 40 minutes and cost approximately $80-$120. Parking is available at the ranch, if necessary.

Practical Information


Saguaro Lake Ranch, on the banks of the Salt River, is our home in the Arizona’s Wild West. The accommodation is in rustic cabins in the shadow of the majestic Bulldog Cliffs, with panoramic views of the Four Peaks Wilderness. After action-packed, full days the ranch is a secluded oasis where you can relax and unwind with fellow swimmers under idyllic star-lit skies. The ranch is based on twin-share basis in clean, comfortable cabins. Limited single cabins are available at a supplement. All rooms have private bathrooms, air-conditioning and heating.


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 ‘Cowboy’ breakfast is served in the unique dining room, with tables and chairs surrounding a giant Saguaro cactus skeleton. We take a good lunch with us on each day and enjoy a delicious dinner at the ranch for the first five evenings.

Extra Expenses

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

Gratuity for your accommodation and meals is included in your package. We suggest a tip of between 5-10% for services such as 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. You should check with the U.S. Department of State for visa requirements:


There are currently no essential vaccination requirements for United States, however it is advisable to re-check this information eight weeks before you travel via the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention website: . You should also ensure that your immunity to tetanus and polio is up-to-date.

  • 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 Dare
  • 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 - 2016
  • 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. USA - 2016
  • I will be doing a SwimTrek trip every year until I am too old to make the trips!

    Gwen S. USA - 2016
  • 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.

Dates Availability Price From
24 Sep -
29 Sep, 2017
Trip Finished
01 Oct -
06 Oct, 2017
Trip Finished