Paddle Down the River Mild

Laid-back kayaking in central Arizona

If death-defying isn’t your speed, you’ll be happy to know that this adventure starts with a rubber “Ducky Kayak” and potentially ends at a bar. And “potentially” has nothing to do with the Verde River’s ferocity—just the fact that you have a choice of where your journey ends.

Sedona Adventure Tours offers an assortment of low-maintenance packages that includes Paddle to Pints (you wind up at a pub in Cottonwood), Water to Wine (the destination is the Alcantara Vineyards & Winery, also in Cottonwood) and Saddle to Paddle (ride horses at Rimrock, then raft). The wife and I wanted to build our own day (including the nearby Out of Africa Wildlife Park), so we opted for the basic three-hour guided tour.

Especially given that we had our 9-year-old in tow, it was a good call. The guide, who grew up in the area, was the perfect combination of knowledgeable, affable and imperturbable. He provided the narrative as if we were in a slideshow, pointing out birds, trees and ancient Indian cliff dwellings that our urban eyes might have otherwise missed. And he patiently gave us tips for navigating the periodic rapids and low-hanging branches along the river.

True, there is a spot called Butterfly Bend, but all is not embarrassingly easygoing along the Verde. There are enough challenges for the inflatable kayaks (especially if you’re in a tandem Ducky with a wee one) during the 5-mile trip to make you feel like you’ve earned that beer or wine. For us low-thrills adventurers, that’s all that counts.

$88 per adult, $77 per child (includes ground transportation), 45 W. Hollamon St., Camp Verde, 877-673-3661. Visit to see other packages and prices.

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Best of the City 2013: Nominate Your Favorites Now

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