Are you ready for a taste of Arizona paradise? If so, let me introduce to you to Cibecue Falls.
This picturesque waterfall is a must-do for your hiking bucket-list. You’ll drive deep into a beautiful canyon and hike 3 miles along a crystal clear creek. Once the creek dead ends you’ll be spoiled with one of the most impressive Arizona waterfalls.
Perfect for dogs and the kiddos, Cibecue Falls is one the whole family can enjoy!
This post will guide you though how to obtain a permit, get to the trailhead, and go over essential trail information for a successful and fun adventure. Trust me, this is one you’ll remember for years afterwards.
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Cibecue Falls Hike Stats
- Distance | 3.0 miles
- Difficulty | Moderate
- Elevation Gain | 620 feet
- Location | Whiteriver, AZ
- Trailhead | Cibecue Falls Trailhead
- Dog Frinedly | Yes, leashed
- Fees | $45 permit required per person
Below is a map of the route to Cibecue Falls.
The trail travels upstream in the Cibecue Creek until it dead ends at the waterfall. Overall it is very easy to follow but it does hop the creek a few times, requiring you to cross and get wet. We’ll go over a few of these details, but first a permit is required!
Cibecue Falls Permits & Regulations
Since we’re recreating on tribal land there are permits required and certain regulations we must follow. Below I’ve included all the information to help you arrive to Cibecue Falls prepared!
First thing first- you must have a permit to enter this area at any given time. The land is part of the White Mountain Apache Tribe and all rules and regulations set by them should be respected.
Permits usually can be purchased on their website. You’ll have to print it off and take it with you. However, the past couple years they haven’t allowed permit purchases to go through for whatever reason. Luckily, if their website is still not accepting purchases, you have another options.
You can snag a permit in person from Sportsman Warehouse in Mesa for $45 per person. You can purchase it at any time and have them print the date you plan on using it.
The Sinclair gas station near the trailhead also sells permits for $45 per person. Depending which direction you’re coming from it can be a little out of the way, but currently it is the only location near Cibecue Falls known to sell permits.
You have to show your permit before you can enter the area. There will be a marked trooper who sits at the entry road- so don’t forget it!
The White Mountain Apache Tribe has regulations they’d like us to follow while hiking Cibecue Falls. This includes:
- No camping
- No swimming
- No fishing
- Dogs must be leashed
The no swimming part is a difficult one to get over. But the hike does require you to wade through some pools of water and cross the creek several times so you’re still able to get wet and cool off. I think they just don’t want us swimming at the falls!
It is important we follow their wishes otherwise they may restrict our access to their land. Don’t be the person who ruins it for others!
How To Get To Cibecue Falls Trailhead
Cibecue Falls is located roughly 135 miles North East from Phoenix. You’ll take highway 60 which leads you through a small mining city named Globe. The turn off to the trailhead is between Globe and Show Low. You’ll turn left (if coming from Phoenix) onto Primitive Road.
Here you’ll most likely pass a marked trooper sitting in his truck waiting to check for your permits. If you don’t have permits he will send you away.
If you do have your permits he will let you continue 4 miles down the dirt road to Cibecue Falls Trailhead.
Talk about a real nail biter!
This dirt road is a one lane road that follows along a very steep cliff edge. If roads like this make you nervous I suggest having someone else drive while you distract your mind with a book or game on your phone.
That is exactly what I had to do while my husband drove us through the canyon! The drive is absolutely stunning but you have to be careful of oncoming cars as well as the bumps and rocks in the road.
Once you near the trailhead you’ll have to drive over the creek. The parking lot is just across the creek and to the right of the road.
Depending on the water level and flow you should be able to cross it just fine in a truck or SUV. I would not suggest attempting this in a sedan or van. Instead, you can park off the side of the road just before the creek crossing and walk to the trailhead.
When we visited it was mid May and we drove our Dodge Ram. The water was maybe 6-8″ deep and we crossed no problem without 4WD.
Hiking To Cibecue Falls
From the parking lot you’ll have no problem finding where the trailhead begins. It is located right in-between the two wooden signs.
You’ll immediately drop down to the creek and begin hiking alongside it. The path is narrow so you pretty much have to hike single file the entire way.
It is almost impossible to get lost here because all you have to do is follow the creek upstream until it dead ends at Cibecue Falls!
Along the way the trail crosses the creek several times which requires you to get your feet wet. For this reason you’ll want to be hiking in your waterproof shoes! Chances are it will be hot out so it should feel refreshing.
I wore my favorite Chaco’s and my husband hiked in his Crocs. Some of the rocks are slippery so I’d suggest something with more grip than not.
The trail is mostly sand so your feet will get sandy/muddy from going back and forth between the creek and trail. If you bring your dog just be aware that once the sand bakes in the sun for a couple hours it becomes too hot for their paws- bring dog boots!
As you hike towards Cibecue Falls the canyon walls slowly begin to grow taller and close in around you. The rock walls provide some relief from the sun as well as stunning views. This is how you know you are getting close.
Depending on the time of year you visit the water level could vary. In May it didn’t get any deeper than knee deep for me (I’m 5’5″), and that was only in two spots. The majority of the creek was ankle to calve deep. If you visit in spring after the snow melt or after a big monsoon there is a possibility the water is much deeper.
Monty wore his life vest because we weren’t sure what the water level would be like. He loves water but doesn’t actually like to swim. Not being able to touch the bottom makes him nervous so we kept it on him for his confidence. Apparently I didn’t teach him how to swim well enough when he was a puppy ?
At times the waterfall and creek can be tainted a muddy brown. This happens after recent heavy rains or monsoons. It is fine- it’ll just look like chocolate water! However you never want to be in the canyon during such weather so always check the forecast before visiting.
We got lucky and were spoiled with clear blue water!
Once you dead end at Cibecue Falls there should be some sand bars exposed for you to sit down and relax for a bit. The water is very deep at the base of the waterfall due to the flow of the falls. Remember no swimming is permitted here, no matter how tempting it may be.
Whenever you get your fill of views you’ll just hike downstream, returning the way you came.
Cibecue Falls Hiking Gear List
While the hike to Cibecue Falls isn’t too difficult I still think it is important to arrive prepared. This area is very remote so it is always better to air on the side of caution. Below I’ve listed some important gear for both you and furry companions.
Waterproof Hiking Shoes:
Since you’ll be hiking in the creek at times it would be best to have waterproof shoes like Chaco’s. I personally prefer pairs without the toe strap because it gets painful and annoying if going downhill.
Reliable Backpack + Water Reservoir:
Any normal backpack will do, but a quality backpack like Osprey Skarab 30 with straps, support, and breathability will feel like luxury during this hike. It also holds a water reservoir which makes it easier to carry water and stay hydrated on the trail without having to stop. For Cibecue Falls I recommed no less than 2.5 L of water per person.
This one is extremely important because in the desert the sun is almost always beaming. You should always pack sunscreen with you and apply it before setting out to hike. Coola is an organic sunscreen perfect for the outdoors. A hat, sunglasses, and a lip balm are also important sun protection items to carry.
You should always have a medical kit in your pack, but especially so in remote areas like this. There are no nearby services, rangers, etc. to aid incase of emergency.
Gear For Dogs
The sandy trail does get too hot for dog paws. Having a pair of dog boots on hand just incase is always a good idea! I pair Monty’s boots with socks because they help prevent blisters, help the boots slide on easier, and keep the boots secure.
Sure the trail is near a creek, but I still like to have on a water dish hand because you never know. And yes, I still brought along 1L of water on the hike for Monty! Having a collapsible dish on hand makes it easier for them to get the hydration they need. I clip Monty’s onto his backpack with a carabiner and he’s set.
Harness Or Life Jacket:
Using a dog harness is just better than a collar in my opinion. You have better control and aren’t pulling on the neck. If your dog is scared of deep water or doesn’t know how to swim, use a life vest that also doubles as a harness!
Hands Free Leash:
Keep your hands free by using a hands free leash! It makes all the difference while traversing through water and over rocks.
Part of recreating responsibly in the outdoors in picking up after your dog. Always have poop bags on hand incase they need to go.
Once you pick up your dog’s poo, where do you store it? I use this poop carrier to hold the poop bags and any bagged poo while we’re out on the trails. It’ll help keep it separate from everything else. I just put it in Monty’s backpack and make him carry it himself so it doesn’t stink up my bag!
Camping Near Cibecue Falls
Camping at Cibecue Falls is not permitted, however there are 2 campgrounds not far from the trailhead that offer primitive style camping. These are located off Primitive Road and you’ll pass right by them on the way.
When I visited I didn’t see anyone camping. So either they are unpopular or they’re closed. Best thing to do is to try and get ahold of the White Mountain Apache Tribe to ask for the status and any additional required permits. Or ask the attendant you purchase your hiking permits from at Sportsman Warehouse!
Final Thoughts On Cibecue Falls
It is a real bummer you can’t swim at Cibecue Falls, however this area is just too beautiful to pass up even with the price of the permits. Although the road in made me extremely nervous I still enjoyed the fact that reaching the trailhead was an adventure in itself.
Hiking in the creek was enjoyable especially since it helped keep us cool. But I think Monty loved it even more than we did!
If you visit I’d pack a lunch and plan on taking your time to enjoy the canyon along the way. The sites are breathtaking and you can really feel a sense of peace here.
As always, please be considerate of the environment so we can keep enjoying it and remember to leave no trace.
More in Arizona:
- The Crack at Wet Beaver Creek- Arizona Swimming Hole
- Ultimate Picacho Peak Hike Guide via The Hunter Trail
- Hiking the Hieroglyphic Trail in the Superstition Mountains
- Visit the Old West Town of Tortilla Flat, Arizona
- What It’s Like Driving the Swift Trail in Arizona
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- Complete Hole in the Rock Road Hiking and Camping Guide
- How to Kayak Antelope Canyon from Lake Powell
- Hiking with dogs- 10 essentials you should pack
- 16 Expert Desert Hiking Tips you need to know
I’d love to hear from you!
Are you adding Cibecue Falls to your bucket list? Or have you hiked to the falls before? Share in the comments below!