ANY navigable waterway is public!
And a group of paddlers here test this regularly by floating down a seasonal river on a log or such.. they win.
BUT, just because the law does allow you to use the water flowing through private land (you still need owners permission to beach on their land) the Law doesn't really do anythingwhern the landowner decides to run a barbed wire fence across that river or stream!
Also a lot of rivers flow through indian Reservations which cause legal problems as the are a sort of 'soverign nation' status and the reservation can require you to buy a pass.
Also, although the Coilorado River through the Grand Canyon is public, the State can regulate howmany people are on that river at any one tine.
It's like driving a car...
You have the right to drive a car on any road, BUT, the state can require you to buy a Drivers license and take a drivers course and charge a 'repair fee' so if the state wants to stop people from driving, they simply raise the DL fees and over-insure the driving schools until they all close which means you go to a yearly drivers school run bythe state at $500 a year plus $500 a year for your DL and a $500 repair fee per year.
It hasn't been done yet, but it is legal and can be applied to anythingthe govt wants to regulate but cannot actually stop.
So, the state cannot actually stop people from running the Colorado River, but they can overregulate it to make it too expensive to run.
And to get back to your question, in arizona, the state cannot stop you from runnign a river through private property, but they can also be too "busy" to cut all those barbed wire fences the owners run across those 'free access' rivers.
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