The Jug at Salome Creek

The Jug at Salome Creek


Mileage: 5.3
Elevation gain: 938 feet
Time to complete: 4-5 hours
Stars: ★★★★★
Difficulty: 3/5 (Ratings explained)
Swift water, obstacles, uneven terrain

When you catch it in the right conditions, The Jug is an exciting natural waterpark with waterslides, downclimbs, and an optional jump in an incredibly scenic canyon. However, it can also be very dangerous at high flow or without proper preparation. Know the conditions, be realistic about your abilities, bring the appropriate gear, and you’ll have a great time.

🪢 This canyon can be completed without a rope, but there is one downclimb and one jump that some people may want to rappel. You will need one 100-foot rope, plus all the required safety equipment for rappelling and knowledge how to use it. This guide is not intended to provide instruction on how to descend a technical canyon safely.

Trail Description

You saw the pictures, didn’t you? And when you did, you knew you had to do this adventure for yourself. I don’t blame you because The Jug is legitimately one of the most fun natural wonders in all of Arizona. However, it is not suitable for everyone, so please read the warnings at the end of the post.

The Jug Trail #61

From the A Cross Trailhead, take The Jug Trail #61. The trail descends gradually as it follows the contours of the ridges on what used to be a Jeep road.

The Jug Trail #61

Near the bottom, you’ll arrive at a junction. You can leave extra water and snacks at this point to pick up on the way out if you want to reduce your load.

Junction on The Jug Trail

Turn left and go through the fence that marks the boundary of the Salome Wilderness. Follow this trail through a very beautiful area that looks like a desert botanical garden. Watch for an obvious wash on the right, where you’ll be able to make your way down to the creek.

Once at the creek, you might as well put on the wetsuit because you’re about to get wet! If you start feeling like a roasted chicken in that thing because your friends are taking way too long, there’s a large pool just a short distance downstream where you can take a dunk.

The Jug

From here, the navigation is easy because you just follow the creek. Submerged boulders, slippery rocks, strong currents, and thick algae are just some of the fun obstacles you’ll face here. But it’s all worth it because. . .


A natural waterslide at The Jug
Another natural waterslide at The Jug
Another natural waterslide at The Jug

We had lively flow that day, so all the slides were really fun. However, due to changing conditions, be sure to evaluate each slide for safety. Some slides had questionable landings, and we had to climb around. It’s good to have at least one person who is comfortable with downclimbing and can help everyone else.

Downclimb at The Jug
Are you thinking how cool we look with shorts over wetsuits?

Close to the end of the water section of this hike, you’ll come to a downclimb that’s a little trickier than the rest. In “lively” flow, what is normally a dry downclimb can become a slippery slide of doom.

Downclimb at The Jug that can be slippery in high flow
Slippery slide of doom

Luckily, there’s also an alternate place to downclimb to the far right (looking down canyon) if you’re cool with hanging by your fingernails. Okay, maybe it’s not that scary, but I didn’t try it because the third option is to use an anchor up high on canyon left to rappel down.

While a big group of young people were struggling with the downclimb, we rappelled down and watched them from below. Of course we didn’t think, “Sucks to be you.” I swear. (We actually offered to let them rappel if they wanted, but they figured it out.)

Optional first rappel at The Jug
Easy rappel of happiness and joy

Not much farther down the creek, you’ll be at the grand finale—a waterfall with a cliff jump or rappel. But first, you have to traverse that sketchy ledge to get out there. There is usually a rope there to help you. When we were there, someone had also built an anchor that would let you avoid the ledge and rappel straight down the waterfall.

The ledge to get out to the jumping spot at The Jug

This is where the bottleneck tends to happen, and if you get behind a large group or some scaredy cats, be prepared to wait a good long time for them to go. (I can’t believe I couldn’t think of a more mature word to use right there.)

Anyway. . . three of us rappelled and one of us jumped, and we had exactly zero injuries.

Rappelling at the final jump at The Jug

There is a small ledge where you can stand and wait for your friends to come down. Our trail mama, Heather, would advise you to wait there and catch your breath before attempting the long swim out of this area. If you don’t have a flotation device, or at least a neoprene wetsuit on to help with buoyancy, this can be a challenge.

Now, a word of caution. When you come around the corner, you’ll be at the spot where people take off their wetsuits. And some people apparently wear nothing underneath them. So, unless you’re into that sort of thing, make a lot of noise and let ’em know you’re coming. Just sayin’.

This spot is really pretty and peaceful, and it makes a great place to gear down and take a break. Before you head up the hill, you might want to get your clothing wet because it’s kind of like a stairmaster 2000 for that first bit of the exit. Soon after, you’ll reconnect with the trail you came in on and follow the old Jeep road back to the trailhead.

So you survived The Jug and the hike out in the heat. Now here’s the best news of all. We recently learned there’s an Alfonso’s Mexican restaurant in Tonto Basin, so get a move on. It’s burrito time!

Safety Considerations

The first question to ask is should you do it? Well, that depends on a few things.

Conditions When there is an excessive amount of runoff due to snowmelt, the water flow can be dangerously high. What should be a fun canyon can turn into a life or death situation, and people have been known to be forced to find a way to escape. Similarly, nearby thunderstorms during the summer can cause flash flooding, and a canyon like this is the last place you’d want to be. On the other hand, in very dry conditions, the water flow can slow to a trickle, which means the waterslides will be virtually nonexistent, the water that’s left can be gross, and the jump can become dangerous. April and May generally offer the best conditions, but each year can vary.

Temperature Most people who go during the best conditions will want to wear a wetsuit of 3mm or so, although we have seen some people do it without. It definitely gets cold toward the end where you have a lot of exposure to the water and fewer chances to get in the sun.

Abilities This canyon is not “easy.” All participants should be physically fit, able to negotiate slippery and uneven surfaces, know how to swim, and be brave enough to go down some pretty intense slides. The jump at the end seems to be the scariest thing for people if they don’t have a rope, and we have seen people stand up there for the better part of an hour trying to work up the courage. In addition, just getting up to the jump requires traversing an exposed ledge that usually has a rope to grab onto. But still. Think about this long and hard before you choose your team.

As always, this is just a guide intended to help keep people safe. Ultimately, the responsibility for your safety falls on YOU.

Which Road Should I Take to Get There?

There are two ways to get to The Jug.

From Tonto Basin This is the shortest drive from the Phoenix area. You will have to cross Tonto Creek on river rock up to three times, which can be intimidating for some drivers (and vehicles). In flood conditions, this crossing can be deadly and has killed people. Turn around and come back another day.

From Globe This is a longer drive on what my friends call a very looooong dirt road. A high clearance vehicle is preferable, though the water crossings aren’t as intense.

Map & Directions

Location Salome Wilderness, Globe, Arizona

Trailhead on Google Maps Salome Wilderness Trailhead

Fees/Passes None

Trailhead Facilities None

Download KML or GPX

Preview this Hike

Recommendations for you

Waterslides Canyon in Sierra Ancha Wilderness Arizona

Waterslides Canyon |Sierra Anchas

Parker Canyon in the Sierra Ancha Wilderness

Parker Canyon |Sierra Anchas

Cool narrows in El Capitan Canyon Arizona

El Capitan Canyon | Globe

Follow us!
If you enjoyed this article, please consider supporting us by following us on our social media pages. Thank you!

Get our latest hikes and blog posts in our newsletter!

We want to hear from you!

Tell us what kind of content interests you or share feedback by taking this survey.

Disclaimer Outdoor activities have inherent risk, and we will not be able to tell you all the risks you may face. You are responsible for your own safety, so prepare as well as you can and know your limits. Follow this guide at your own risk. And have fun!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *