Paddling the Black Canyon of the Colorado

4/10…..Boulder City, NV

Since we finished the Arizona Trail a little ahead of schedule we decided to rent a canoe and relax on a river for a couple days. Last fall QB and I took a little trip out to the southwest and as we were camping at some hot springs near the Hoover Dam we met some people that just canoed to them. Good idea! There’s a canoe rental place in nearby Boulder City, NV so for short money we rented a canoe and a shuttle down to launch in the river.

The only potentially tricky part would be traveling the 225 miles from Kanab, UT to Boulder City without a car or a bus ticket. This proved to be no problem at all, luckily for us we have been perfecting the art of the hitch.

After a good night’s sleep at Lynn and Richard’s house, Lynn cooked us a big delicious breakfast with fresh veggies and fresh eggs from their chickens in the yard. We ate on their porch looking out at Kanab’s Vermillion Cliffs. After we ate, Richard gave us a ride downtown and we started hitching west. We weren’t there long when ‘Aunt Patty’ picked us up and drove us about 10 miles to the next town: Fredonia, AZ. A couple minutes later and Sujin, a tourist from Thailand, picked us up and he was heading all the way to Vegas. Sujin works as an electrical engineer building the subway in Bangkok. He encouraged us to visit Thailand, and then told us a bunch of scary snake stories like how one time he had a king cobra in his toilet. Once we got to Vegas we thought a hitch would be pretty difficult and instead of waiting out in the hot sun we got a relatively inexpensive Uber to Desert Adventures(the canoe outfitter) in Boulder City. We got all squared away to get on the river tomorrow and then walked downtown and got a room at the Best Western for the night. Downtown Boulder City is a nice little town and after walking around exploring for awhile we went out for sushi then back to the hotel to hangout in the hot tub for awhile. From the hot tub we watched a family come into the pool area and baptize a baby in the water. I’ve never seen anything like it, I mean I’ve seen babies get baptized before but never at 9:30 on a Tuesday night in a hotel pool. Lynn and Richard’s yard AKA Chateau Relaxo

4/11…..Arizona Hot Springs, AZ

This morning we walked downtown and ate breakfast at The Coffee Cup(probably my favorite breakfast place of all time, we found out about it last fall when we came through here and made sure to come back). From the restaurant we walked about a mile to the outfitters and stopped at the dollar store to get some flip flops along the way. These things proved to be essential for the river.

Desert Adventures, the canoe rental place, drove us to Willow Beach at 10:30 and after we got the rundown about do’s and don’t’s on the river and what not we were in the water and paddling upstream. Willow Beach is about 14 miles south of the Hoover Dam and the whole Black Canyon of the Colorado is something like a 63 mile section of river between Hoover Dam and Davis Dam(I think). It’s all within Lake Mead National Recreation Area. This is what river people call ‘flat water’ and although there’s a current it’s not too severe so you can paddle up or downstream. We were going up and aiming for the Arizona Hot Springs to camp. The wind was at our backs so that cancelled out the minimal current we were going against and we were able to make decent progress. I’ve done some paddling here and there but nothing serious and the bulk of my canoeing experience comes from when I was a kid canoeing the Bearcamp River in Ossipee, NH. QB on the other hand was a Girl Scout and went to summer camp so she knows what she’s doing. We took turns in the front and the back but it didn’t take long to figure out that’s she’s better at steering and was quickly designated the stern woman and I would be the bow man. Canoeing the river today was great. Check out the pictures below of the huge rock walls, emerald cave, and some other cool stuff like catwalks and old cable cars. It was about 90 degrees today but the river stays 53 degrees year round(supposedly) so whenever we got too hot we stopped and swam. We also saw about a dozen bighorn sheep running down some steep cliffs to get a drink at the river. I felt like I was inside a National Geographic program, check out the video below. We got to the beach where the hot springs are around 4 and had a really nice night. There’s a bunch of other people here but only a few were up at the springs. The springs themselves are inside a slot canyon probably no more than ten feet wide and are sandbagged creating 4 different pools that get hotter as you go up. They’re about a quarter mile from the river and a little tricky to get to even including climbing a 20 foot ladder but well worth it. We went back and forth a couple times from the cold river to soaking in the hot springs and as I lay down tonight my body feels like melted butter.

4/12…..Arizona Hot Springs, AZ

Today was awesome! This morning we wanted to get up river a couple miles and check out some hot springs at Boyscout Canyon. We gave it hell for about 45 minutes but we were going into a headwind and the current was working against so we decided to turn around. Boyscout Canyon is only accessible from the river or by doing a 300 foot rappel and I don’t have those skills yet. Going back down river we stopped at the Arizona Hot Springs again and had a nice long soak. We got going around 11 and had until 4 to get back to Willow Beach where we’d be picked up. Today was much easier to float downstream so we really could just relax and steer and we still moved a lot faster than yesterday. I mostly relaxed while QB steered. We explored Emerald Cave again and it was better today because the afternoon light was showing off the green water. Just north of Willow Beach is an old historic site that has the remnants of the river guagers house so we stopped there and took the trail up to it. The best part was when we were up there we had a great view looking down at the river and a huge bald eagle soared just above us. What a treat! We got back to Willow Beach shortly after that and asked the driver to drop us off at the trailhead to the AZ Hot Springs. From the trailhead we took the White Rock Canyon trail about 3 miles back down to the river. We ate some noodles, setup our tent then walked back up to the springs and had a nice long soak. Tonight was a much clearer night so we could look up above through the slot canyon and see a sliver of the starry sky, it was so cool.

Tomorrow we’ll hike out and hopefully find some petroglyphs along the way that we heard about earlier. Our plan is to hitch to Vegas then get a flight to NYC tomorrow afternoon, after a morning soak of course.

4/13…..Boulder City, NV

We took a nice bath this morning and met Mike one of the caretakers of the springs. He walked out with us and gave us a guided tour of the petroglyphs and took us through a slot canyon where we had to scale a short wall. Mike was learned in the world of botany and gave us all kinds of info on the plants growing in the desert. Once back up at the trailhead, Abby who we met down at the springs, was going our way and gave us a ride to Boulder City. We’ll be moving on from here so stay tuned and I’ll keep you posted. To see more pictures from this trip follow me on insta @endlesspsummer and if you like what you’ve been reading subscribe to this blog.our guide MikeSpiderwoman!

3 Comments on “Paddling the Black Canyon of the Colorado

  1. You do have the adventures! Looks like great fun. So happy for you that you can do it and take the West back to Boston. Great travels. Jere

    Liked by 1 person

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