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 Army Corps of Engineers collaboratively operate a security checkpoint at the 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.
There are several sandy beaches that provide good camping opportunities. Powerboats are not allowed up river of Willow Beach on the weekends, which makes the paddling experience much more authentic and wild. The current of the river is mild, and head winds 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.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.