Kayaking the Colorado River in Nevada/Arizona via Black Canyon



Starting Point: Willow Beach Marina – at the Southern End of Lake Mohave in Arizona and Nevada

Destination: Hoover Dam (and points in between) via Black Canyon



From Las Vegas:

Travel South on I-515 which merges onto US-93 South. Continue on US-93 South through Henderson to Boulder City. Once in Boulder City, turn left onto US-93 Truck Route (across the Hoover Dam). Drive South 14 miles on Highway 93. Turn right onto Willow Beach Road. Follow the signs and drive 4 miles down to the marina.

From Southern California:

Travel North on I-15 to Barstow, CA. Merge onto I-40 to Kingman, AZ. Take US-93 North and travel 56 miles. Turn left onto Willow Beach Road. Follow the signs and drive 4 miles down to the marina.


1) Go on a Sunday or Monday. Watercraft is not allowed in Black Canyon on those days.

2) Make your reservations WAY in advance and rent a Kayak for a whole day. I prefer to rent a single kayak instead of a double when I’m going  with other people because I like to control my own boat!

3) If this is your 1st experience kayaking, go with someone who has ‘yaked before or take a guided tour.

4) If you’re going to be paddling more than 2 hours- wear paddling gloves!

What to Bring/Wear:

  • Quick-dry Shorts  /Shirt – Nylon or Wicking Material
  • Warm Layers for Winter
  • River Sandals or Water Shoes
  • Hat and Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Bathing suit (I wore a quick dry T-shirt and Nylon Shorts)
  • Waterproof Camera and/or a Camera in a Plastic Bag
  • A First Aid Kit in a Baggie
  • Enough Water for 8 hours/Healthy, Non-Perishable Snacks to keep your energy up
  • A flashlight

Dog Friendly, Kid Friendly (over the age of 6- I believe), Picnic Friendly, Camping Friendly and  Semi-Beginner (exercise wise) Friendly.

Our Adventure Begins…

My Fabulous Co-Host, Victor!

Officer Victor and I arrived at the Marina at around 8:30am. They are reconstructing the whole deal, so parking was limited but available since we were 2 of only 6 people there. We signed our contracts, tossed our gear into the kayaks and off we went into the great, wet yonder.

I’m an experienced ‘Yaker but Victor is not. It’s not a hard thing to pick up, so Victor had it down in about 5 minutes. As we paddled and took in the scenery I periodically consulted the map we received at the rental counter. About 1 1/2 hours into our paddling I realized that we were GOING THE WRONG WAY! (O. M. G.)  WAY to GO EXPERIENCED Kayaker!!! Understand that we were starting at the BOTTOM of the canyon and were supposed to head up. There was a bit of a headwind, so I  eyeballed  the current and thought we were ALREADY heading upstream but in all actuality we were NOT! UGH! Ok…sorry…my bad…

We turn around and now we are REALLY paddling up the river. Against the current and s-l-o-w-l-y….

Losing valuable time, I figured that we’d never make it all the way up to Hoover Dam or even get remotely CLOSE to the Hot Springs and Waterfalls and such. After I beat myself up, pouted for a bit and gave up 17 times- I was fine and decided to just go with the flow and see as much as we could in the time we had left. I found out that not many kayakers go in the direction that we originally headed (toward Monkey Hole) and we saw parts of the river that most kayakers don’t experience. Now I feel special!

FYI- This is what can happen to you if you don’t wear Paddling Gloves. Note to self: Ask Santa for gloves.




I have a matching one of these on the other thumb as well!




The scenery is absolutely breathtaking in Black Canyon. Around every bend and cove is another amazing discovery!


The one place I REALLY wanted to see was Emerald Cove. When the sun hits the water at a certain time the cove illuminates with an unbelievably beautiful, green glow !

Into the cove we go…     


closer to the Marina.



  Gem water!  

After leaving the cove, Victor and I continued paddling a little further up the Canyon and then decided to go ashore and have a little picnic! We beached our ‘yaks and then waded through this weird, flat, white, grass that actually looks like sand until you get right on top of it.  It was nice to get out of the boats for a bit, stretch our legs and soak in the atmosphere. Finishing our snacks, we realized that the kayaks had to be back in an hour. Back down river we went-finding another perfect PIRATE cave, spying some Blue Heron, scaring some odd looking ducks.   

Arriving back from where we started. Exhausted but elated- we checked in the kayaks, hopped into Victor’s Super Van and headed off for a nap and some late dinner.

Even after all the research I did regarding Black Canyon, I realized that being dropped in UP RIVER would have been a better idea. Now we have an excuse to come back this spring and do it again!




Just in case you needed to see me again…here you go.




(although a bit blurry)


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