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Black Canyon Canoe/Kayak Trip, AZ
mini location map2014-03-28
26 by photographer avatarazbackpackr
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Black Canyon Canoe/Kayak Trip, AZ 
Black Canyon Canoe/Kayak Trip, AZ
Kayak avatar Mar 28 2014
Kayak11.98 Miles 829 AEG
Kayak11.98 Miles2 Days   4 Hrs   17 Mns   
829 ft AEG
1st trip
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This was a two-night kayak/canoe trip down the lower Colorado, launching on the Nevada side at Hoover Dam and taking out on the Arizona side at Willow Beach. I forgot to turn my GPS on until maybe 1/4 mile downstream or so.

If you launch at the dam you have to have an outfitter, since they are the only ones allowed to drive down that road below the dam. We went with Helen Howard's outfit, Desert River Kayak. Since it was spring break for a lot of schools, the outfitter was very busy and we had to get our cars down to Willow Beach very early in the morning. We had stayed at Hacienda Casino Hotel in the Boulder City area. (It was the first time I had set foot in Nevada since 1976!!)

Finally we were unloading our gear and boats at the put-in. I was part of a group with my daughter and a very large outdoor club from Flagstaff. Way too many people for my comfort level, but I dealt with it as best I could.

The thing is, this was also the time when they were letting an unusual amount of water out of the dam, to provide water for the experimental spring flood down in Mexico, in the Colorado River delta. So, the water was coming up very fast as we were rigging. I started with my boat next to the sidewalk and finished rigging 45 minutes later in thigh-deep water. I had to move my boat. My boat was brought down from the van last, and I was starting to rig last, so that when it was time to go, literally no one else was in sight. Gee, thanks for waiting. On the other hand, the current was very strong, so they were likely carried downstream. Many had top-heavy canoes. (Numerous tipovers this weekend reminded me again how much I dislike canoes. We had one tip-over in our group, at Ringbolt Rapids.) I took off paddling, finally, and found them down around the bend visiting an interesting dripping spring. The water level in the river was so high that our trip leader, who had done the trip many times before, said we'd usually be able to get out of the boats, but there were no beaches, no good place to get out of the boats. So, we went on.

The river canyon here, known as Black Canyon, is really pretty, and reminded me a bit of Grand Canyon. It has sheer cliffs, caves, etc.

It didn't take long to reach Arizona Hot Springs beach. Just before the beach is Ringbolt Rapids, which at this high water level was actually sort of a rapids. So, I ran it! Most people kept to the left to avoid it, however!

The beach where we were to camp was already packed with people and their tents, tables, canoes, and a giant sweat lodge made of branches and canvas tarps. More people were coming in, in groups of 20 or so, mostly college outdoor clubs and Boy Scouts. After moving camp twice I found a place that was sort of out of the way. Note to self: Next time do this trip during a slow time of the year (call outfitter to ask when that is.)

During our two-night stay at this beach some did a long hike, but since I have had foot problems I had brought only Teva sandals. I hiked up to the hot springs and soaked. No skinny dipping was going on--too many people. With my daughter and her friend we hiked on a trail upriver and then to a canyon, maybe it is White Rock? I don't know.

I have to say, I usually plan and lead my own trips. Being led, I had not done much research, and not really being a part of this group, I was always out of the loop anyway. I had a map I had printed off the internet, and there was a similar one handed out to us. Not much of a map.

I had a taste of this place, and now I would like to go back and see it when there is no one else on the river. Maybe during the week sometime in January or February or thereabouts. I would like to take several days and camp at the smaller beaches, do more hiking if my feet are better then.

I did enjoy the trip, and there were several in the group who I liked very much. Squat Puke was there, for one thing. His real name is Larry, and he's come on a couple of Grand Canyon backpacking trips I put together, including his first ever backpacking trip!

When we were ready to launch on Sunday it was very, very windy. Four canoes from another group tipped over just after launching. We waited until about 11 a.m. to launch, when the wind had abated a bit. We had a very pleasant run down the river, with only light breezes, no big ugly gusts. My daughter, her boyfriend and myself went first, without the others. It was pleasant to have the river to ourselves for a while.

At the take-out, someone from another group handed out Cherry Garcia ice cream bars. I got one.

Then I headed for Lake Havasu, a motel room, and a 9-mile solo paddle on the lake the next day. It was a great 4 day weekend!
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