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In fact, parking is "free" only if the vehicle displays a "Tonto Pass." This section of the Salt River lies within the Tonto National Forest, and parking at any site along this section of the river requires either a day use pass, or an annual pass.
The day use passes can be bought for $6.00 at many businesses along or near Power Road, which becomes Bush Highway as you travel north from Mesa into the Salt River Valley. The annual pass can be purchased at the Mesa Ranger District Office at 5140 E. Ingram St., Mesa, Arizona 85205 (480-610-3300) for less than $100.00.
Anyone who parks for "free" without displaying a pass faces a hefty fine. On each of my last two visits to the Salt River I have seen many cars ticketed for parking without displaying a pass. I would hate to see anyone's plan to visit the Salt River based on reading this previous post be ruined by finding themselves ticketed.
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