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Straddle the NV - AZ Border!
This description is for the Black Canyon section of the Colorado River, from the Hoover Dam to Willow Beach. This is a 12+ mile paddle that is often done as an overnighter. Permits must be obtained from the National Park Service. Note that it is NOT possible to do this trip by self-shuttle. The Bureau of Reclamation, the NPS, and the Army Corps of Engineers collaboratively operate a security checkpoint to the road below the dam. Therefore, you must work with a local outfitter who is certified by the NPS.
( see permit section for links to info )
The trip can easily be done in a day, but two days would provide more time for exploring side canyons, hot springs (there are five named hot springs with the immediate Black Canyon area), and swimming! Both canoes and kayaks work well on the slow-moving waters. The dam release is often during the night, and it is unlikely to affect a paddle trip. If anything, you will notice slightly higher water levels, but the current generally stays constant.
Several sandy beaches provide good camping opportunities. Powerboats are not allowed upriver of Willow Beach on the weekends, which makes the paddling experience much more authentic and wild. The current of the river is mild, and headwinds can make you feel like you're paddling on a lake at times.
Must-see stops include:
The Sauna Cave, NV side, between mile marker 63 and 62
Boy Scout Canyon, NV side, between mile marker 62 and 61
Arizona Hot Spring, AZ side, at mile marker 60
Emerald Cave and Gauging station catwalk, AZ side, at mile marker 54
See Black Canyon pdf for map and further points of interest.
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.