The Salt River near Mesa, AZ is a stunning place to elope or have a small (micro) wedding. The Salt River, created by the Stewart Mountain Dam built in 1928-1930, is a popular recreation area for Phoenicians in the summer. Many Phoenicians go to the Salt River to go tubing to escape the heat. The Salt River, however, is beautiful year round. During the winter months when electricity use is lower, the water level drops, allowing some stunning photos along the rocky shores in certain recreation areas.


Park: Tonto National Forest- Lower Salt River
How to get there:  North on Power Road in Mesa until you enter the Tonto Forest area. Several recreation areas are along the main road, stretching all the way up to Saguaro Lake. Google Maps link to Granite Reef Recreation Area which is at the beginning of the Salt River area.

Cost: $8/vehicle for Tonto Parking Pass, purchaseable at any gas station nearby in Mesa

Permits: Unclear if small weddings/elopements need a special use permit. Contact Ranger’s office.

Phone: (480) 610-3300 Mesa Ranger District

Dog friendly: Yes, on leash

Max guests: 10-20 max

No glass containers

Several recreation areas available, each with varied vegetation and overall look. If you are thinking of having your elopement, small wedding or portrait session at the Salt River, contact me to plan your session. I will provide you details on each recreation area, including photos of each to help guide your decision!

Recreation areas are open to the public with no way of reserving ramadas (to my knowledge). The Salt River is popular, especially on weekends. There WILL most likely be other people around and there is no real way of getting around that, unless you go off the beaten path to a less popular area.

As always, LEAVE NO TRACE!

The Salt River is frequented by wild horses. 50+ ft distance needs to be kept between the horses & people, regardless of if they move to approach you. Harassment is a fineable offense.


I grew up driving along the Salt River. It’s varied and absolutely stunning, with huge towering cliffy mountains that catch the sunset light, a beautiful river, and of course, the Salt River wild horses are a special rare treat. It’s a favorite, treasured spot amongst photographers and it’s my privilege to share the area with people to inspire the conservation, preservation and appreciation of the area with locals and out-of-towners alike. It’s a favorite spot for elopements and sessions for a reason- it’s stunning!

Want to book? Have more questions? Want to chat about specifics of your day? I would love to hear from you, please do feel free to give me a call on 480-458-7437 or shoot me an email below or at