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Topock Gorge - Upper, AZ
mini location map2018-03-19
8 by photographer avatarazbackpackr
photographer avatar
 
Topock Gorge - Upper, AZ 
Topock Gorge - Upper, AZ
 
Kayak avatar Mar 19 2018
azbackpackr
Kayak7.46 Miles
Kayak7.46 Miles   4 Hrs   13 Mns   2.03 mph
      33 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Partners none no partners
Topock Gorge is a canyon carved by the the Colorado River, between the I-40 bridge and Lake Havasu. (Trivia: It used to be called Mojave Canyon, on old maps and in historic photos.) It's a fairly popular paddling destination. Most people paddle it using a shuttle option, leaving a vehicle at Castle Rock Bay, on Lake Havasu, which is the nearest take-out point. This necessitates help from other people.

I just wanted a simple solo adventure. I launched the kayak a short distance downriver from the I-40 bridge. This launch spot on the Arizona side of the river is not easy to find--I'd heard about it from a local. I had to use my kayak cart to get the 50-pound boat from my Jeep to the put-in. It looked as though I might be trespassing on gas company property, but there are no "No Trespassing" signs, and I was assured by my friend that many people walk down there to fish from the shoreline.

Of course, it was easy floating downriver with the current, but it seemed to take forever to paddle back up, especially since a breeze came up, not in my favor. (The NWS had assured me the wind would be out of the South. Hmmm, wrong again!) I paddled downriver following the right (California) shore and stopping at a couple of beaches. Paddling back up the opposite (Arizona) shore I stopped several times as well. I have been having a sciatica problem, and need to get out of the boat and walk around.

The water releases from Davis Dam have increased a lot over the past month. In winter the river is kept very low. Winter would be the best time to do this down-and-back paddle, when the river is running at 5,000 cfs, instead of 18,000 cfs! Also, pick a time when there will be a definite south breeze to help push you back upriver!

There are no levees in this section, so the appearance of the river is similar to pre-dam conditions. However, yesterday I spent a couple hours at the Needles Museum, looking at dozens of old photos of the river, pre-channelization. Back in those days, Topock Gorge/Mojave Canyon had a lot more sandy beaches along its banks.

It was another gorgeous day on the Lower Colorado River. Almost the last hurrah for me, since I will be moving back up "on the mountain" to Flagstaff on April 1st.

Camping info: Topock Gorge lies within the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge. No boat-in (shoreline) camping is allowed. For kayak campers this makes for a very long paddle of 20 miles, between two campgrounds--Park Moabi (Pirate Cove), and Windsor Beach Campground at Lake Havasu State Park. This is unfortunate.

I found another volleyball! This is a real nice one (see photo). Too bad I am not able to play.
Culture
Culture
HAZ - Selfie
Named place
Named place
Old Trails Bridge The Needles
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