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New River

5 Reviews
Location Black Canyon City, AZ
Rating Moderate,
Length 19mi
Time 3hrs

Vehicle Types


Long trail climbs through remote Sonoran Desert to forest.

Trail climbs through remote high Sonoran Desert into Tonto National Forest. A State Trust Land permit is required west of forest boundary. non-street-legal ATVs, UTVs and dirt bikes are allowed on this trail, provided they have the above permit. At the end of the trail, licensed vehicles can head south on F.S. 24 to Carefree or north to Bloody Basin Road, trail #32. People camp at the start (with State Trust Land permit).


Trail Ratings Defined

Steep, rocky climbs and rutted, washed out conditions. River is often dry but can be deep after heavy rains. Most of the trail is easy when dry.






High Point


Best Time To Go


Current Conditions

(480) 595-3300.Tonto National Forest, Cave Creek Ranger District

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Trail Updates

Submitted by Kris
Beautiful trail. Definitely some difficult rocks to climb over. There are several Rick crossings that I mistook for the rock crossing on the map. But hey it was fun. Secondly, never saw the water tank. Not sure if it’s since been removed. Also live stock on the trail. Cool to see but hard to get them to move sometimes. The exit on the carefree side is a tade confusing. It’s a sharp right at the split in the road. All in all map is pretty spot on and loved the trail.

Submitted by Mel
Trail has been totally washed away at one spot – users are making a bypass through plants but it isn’t very established as of 4/23. There are multiple piles of large rocks to traverse. 3″ lift and 33″ tires had us dragging the skid plates often. Friend on 35″ tires only hit once. Definitely more difficult than the “easiest” blue trail in the book.

Submitted by Jason
This trail has definitely changed and likely deserves a “Difficult” rating for portions. Recent rains have washed out several areas and there are now a few decent rock gardens and steep climbs which require 4-low. We have a 2019 JL Rubicon lifted on 35’s and a rock garden after the third river crossing required 4-low and both front and rear lockers.

Submitted by Jeremy
Weather was dry and we only saw 6 motorcycles on this Friday afternoon. That’s it, no other vehicles. This trail requires high clearance 4wd low, but probably any 4wd with low range could run it with a spotter. I agree with the intermediate rating on this trail. I wouldn’t have driven this without a spotter…too many rocky areas that could cause underbody damage. With a spotter, this trail is a blast and scenic! It took us about 6 hours to complete, but a more experienced off-roader could probably do it in 5. The trail stays pretty true to what is in the Funtreks book. However, there is one spot heading from west to east approximately at mile 12.5. The trail appears to lead you to a very large rock pile obstacle that looks like it MIGHT be passable. I’m sure a very experienced driver or built up rig could probably handle it, but the actual trail goes left into the river bed, then out the other side. A friend of ours got stuck here and had to turn back, not knowing the actual path. Otherwise this was a great trail for someone with a little less experience who wants a bit more challenge. Take your time and remember tire placement is key on this trail.

Submitted by Mason
Wish I came across this forum prior to giving this thing a whirl yesterday evening in a ’21 Ram TRX. I last ran the trail a couple of years ago without any issues whatsoever (granted, in an RZR XP4 Turbo) and an easy/moderate rating of 3 to 5 out of 10 was applicable. Things have changed. The ruts, lose rock/gravel, and washout spots didn’t pose much of a problem but as others have stated, the rock gardens (more aptly boulder forests) have altered the landscape significantly in areas of the middle portion of the trail. Don’t do it in anything but a decently outfitted Jeep or a UTV in my opinion, anything less and you might get more than you bargained for like I did. Best for shorter wheelbases and narrower track widths, full skid plates and rockers, modest lift with larger tires, just air down before you start, and bring a buddy willing to billy goat around and spot for you. One thing has not changed, however. It remains some of the most beautiful unspoiled high Sonoran river canyons and surrounding mountain terrain in the area. So for the patient and well enough equipped, I’d absolutely still recommend it.

Submitted by Mike
I concur with the two recent updates. This trail probably does rate at the higher end of the moderate scale, and given how bumpy and punishing the ride is. I would probably chose a different trail to have a more enjoyable day. One of the river crossings was strewn with large boulders, and one of the boulder gardens required very careful tire placement. A spotter is probably a good idea for this one. There is another boulder garden that we did not attempt since there was an alternate go-around. There were also a couple of small washouts that could cause peril for wider vehicles.
Both the eastern and western thirds of the trail are pretty easy. It is the middle third that is much more difficult. Long wheel base or wide track are probably not good choices on this trail. I did this on a Kawasaki Teryx (62″ wide) today without any drama, and I estimate I could have made it without issue in my JL Rubicon. However, I have no desire to try it in the Jeep.

Submitted by Logan
This trail has been heavily used and I would hazard AGAINST riding this trail considered as Moderate. There were sections of trail collapse with 10-15 ft drops, the hill climbs have been heavily rutted out filled with loose football-size rocks and larger. Multiple Boulder Gardens to cross on the trail. I ran it with a 2020 Tundra with an Offroad package. I ended up high centered in the rocks. Take caution on larger wheelbase or lower vehicles. Take recovery gear including some type of jack on your wheels. Strongly consider extensive skid plates.

Submitted by Wayne
I ran this trail in a Toyota Tacoma (lifted with skid plates and rock sliders). The trail was almost impassable at 3 or 4 river crossings due to large (12-24″ diameter) boulders in crossings of 30 to 100 feet long. I had to stack rocks and move boulders to get through. I ended up high-centered once. I would upgrade this to a red (difficult) trail. It was by far the most difficult blue (moderate) trail that I have taken of your Arizona trails. The difficult crossings were all in the middle section that parallels the New River.

Tonto National Forest temporary closure. Due to several fires, this area has restrictions. Read forest order here. For updates go to N.F. website for alerts and notices.


Rate this trail on a scale of 1 to 5.


Steven Boles says

We drove the trail late afternoon going east to west. We found the trail to be more towards the easy rating. The biggest problem was driving into the setting sun. the bonus was all the beautiful colors that the sunset provide on the drive. total drive time was around 2 hours and 30 mintues.

Tom says

We rode it Nov 2020. It is all opened, but there are signs beware of fire damage. Lot of the area has been burned. It is still very spectacular. I found it actually quite hard, harder than many other moderate trails. The hill at 5.1 mi needed lockers and there were big boulder fields which needed spotting help and careful wheel placements. Yes, the majority of the trail was easy, but these few spots were not.

Craig W says

Drive west to east on January 3, 2021. 2020 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro with a ~1.5 inch lift, skids, sliders and 32 inch tires. Trail conditions were generally dry; I could definitely see this trail being quite interesting with water crossings during wetter periods. The first several miles were relatively easy with things getting noticeably rougher at about the 5 mile mark with the first bigger hill climbs that you encounter. Overall, things definitely stayed more in the moderate criteria till about FR37 at the 13.4 mile mark when the trail mellowed out and got pretty easy for the remainder. Nothing in this middle section of trail was particularly difficult, but some rocky areas required good line selection. There was one spot I did use my rear locker to minimize the need for momentum and I also did end up bumping one of my rock sliders in a particularly narrow spot between large rocks. I'm not sure if I would have hit my body without the sliders sticking out, but am happy I had them regardless. Nice rolling terrain that alternates between more desert low-land vegetation and eco-system you start to see around 3000 feet elevation or so.

Steve S says

I first drove it in 2018 in my then stock 4Runner and the re-drove it in early 2021 in my 4Runner Offroad with 1" lift, stiff suspension, and full underbody armor and sliders. The trail was easy for me on both occasions but was certainly rougher in 2021 than in 2018. We encountered a stock 4Runner with steps that damaged one step over a rock in a narrow spot, maybe even the same spot mentioned in the other review. I don't think the trail offers anything that can be called a big hill, but I guess it depends on perspective. Most importantly, the trail offers fantastic scenery as you change from one type of desert into another. Of course, lightning is key so on a bright day, the desert does not look as amazing as it does with some clouds.

John says

We ran this trail weekend before thanksgiving 2021. Didn’t know at time but listed as not passable on a few sites. Not marked anywhere on trailhead. You are able to get through but several more rock gardens then I remember and at least 1 reroute that could harm environment. I would not recommend until fixed, as 1 more big rain and a portion of road (before rock formation/cave) could be completely washed out. Sides by side can still do but I caution Jeepers and others.
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