Hoover Dam,
Lake Mead

from Willow Beach, Arizona

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Paddle Trip
Willow Beach, Arizona to Hoover Dam (near Boulder City, Nevada)

Trip Highlights:
This is a Mojave Desert paddle trip. In the summer it probably our favorite trip. Because the temperatures here in the summer are so blasted hot, maybe 110 degrees F or so, we do this one at night.

Route:An 11 mile upstream and return paddle at night in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River. From Willow Beach, Arizona to a hot spring about 1.5 miles below Hoover Dam and then return.

Watch out for: In the summer some concern must be given to the extreme desert heat. At night avoiding rocks requires a headlamp.

Paddling Tips: Expect a current of 1 to 5 miles per hour.

Stretch Your Legs: There are plenty of nice sandy beaches along the route.

Notes: This is an upstream and return paddle in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River. We'll leave Willow Beach and padddle upstream towards Hoover Dam in the early evening about 7 or 8 PM. This allows the rock of the canyon walls and surrounding desert to begin its process of giving back to the night sky the heat it has collected all day. The "climate" of a desert evening on the river is thoughly enjoyable. The day's temperature of 110 may plummet to 80 degrees and the predictable evening breezes bring an alternating mix of the hot ground and cool 50 degree water temperatures. The river flow is dependent upon the dam's release. You can expect a current of 1 to 2 mph or you may be surprised with the adventure of heading into a stiffer 5 mph current. Las Vegas, one of the brightest places on the planet at night, is only about 50 miles away and provides a glow to the night sky. But the river is 2000 feet below the canyon rim and without a moon it is pitch black on the river. To lesson the effort of paddling into the current we paddle along either shore. But there is no visibility without a moon and so we learned that a headlamp with a good beam is imperative to avoid collisions with rocks and canyon walls. The bonus to the whole trip is Boy Scout Hot Spring about an 11 mile paddle from Willow Beach. Depending upon current it may be a good effort to arrive in only 4 hours or so. This means that you can expect to make the landing at or about midnight or so. And here is the bonus...a short 10 minute walk from the beach up a warm stream will bring you to a hot spring waterfall cascading down through narrow chasms that are the perfect width for sitting in. Facing downstream, the hot water plummets onto your shoulders and back. It is the perfect natural jacuzzi. In the morning after coffee and breakfast, it is a easy downstream paddle back to Willow Beach.

--Trip contributed by Robert Finlay of Kayak Lake Mead (outfitter).

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