Kayaking Black Canyon


February 18th, 19th, and 20th, 2005


Black Canyon. Eleven miles of river starting from below Hoover Dam on the Colorado River.


Brian, Kyle, Jeff, and Chuck (Me)

Links: We used Down River Outfitters out of Boulder City for kayak rentals and launch


Here is a link to the full album of images.



Day One:

The outfitter met us in the parking lot of the Hacienda Hotel at 8:30am and we were at the bottom of Hoover Dam by 9:30 and in the water by 10am. The river was a chilly 50 degrees! There were 2 other groups going out, but we didn't really see anyone again until Sunday.

Heading out from the dam.


We saw lots of double crested cormorants and a few great blue herons. The downward spiraling song of the rock wren was everywhere, but they stayed hidden.

Great blue heron along the river.


The first day had a 70% chance of rain, and since it wasn't yet raining, we opted to paddle down to Boy Scout Canyon and set up camp first. We opted to camp up on a rock outcrop just in case Boy Scout Canyon flooded. As we finished camp, it started raining. It rained most of the rest of the day. After some lunch we decided to explore Boy Scout Canyon since it was just a steady sprinkle. The water flowing down the canyon was warm and nice. Saw a red-spotted toad in a warm side pool as we were hiking up. We had several waterfalls in the slot canyon that we had to climb. There were ropes in place, some looked pretty old, but they all held. It was so cool to climb a running waterfall with warm water hitting me in the face!

The next two images Brian took as I was climbing one of the waterfalls.


We arrived at a large deep pool, we guessed around 105 degrees. The rain started increasing so we just relaxed in the hot pool. After a while the water started getting cool with all the influx of rain and we decided it would be safe to head down back to camp.

These images are me coming down the same waterfall I think. Thanks to Kyle for this series, I love these images!


The last waterfall before camp was only 5 feet high and didn't have a rope. It was hard to climb down due to increased runoff and I sort of slipped and slid the final few feet to the bottom. Somehow my right foot rolled on the landing and my weight with the water pushing harder on my back cause a pretty bad ankle sprain. It was the first ankle sprain I've had since I was a kid. I could bear weight and walk, but any other bending of the foot hurt like hell! We got back to camp and dried off and retired to our tents to wait out the rain. After a little read and a nice nap, I got up for dinner around 4:30. The river was now real calm and I saw several razor-backed suckers in the shallow waters below camp. It's cool to see endangered species when you're out in the wild. Sadly, this species will probably go extinct in my lifetime. Dinner was freeze-dried mac&cheese and it was tasty!


Day 2


Saturday we awoke to party cloudy skies and patches of blue sky. After breakfast we loaded the yaks and headed back upriver to see the stuff we bypassed on Friday. Up near the dam was Sauna Cave. It's a man-made horizontal shaft that goes back about 150 feet. It was abandoned when they struck a geothermal vent. The back of the cave was weeping super hot water and full of crystals. It was hard to breathe in the cave because the steam was so thick. We sweated it out in the sauna for 15 minutes before we went back outside.

Sweating to death in Sauna Cave!


Getting back in the 50 degree river water was a real jolt to the system! We kayaked down to Gold Strike Canyon and tied up the kayaks. Hiking up slot canyons is such a cool experience. This canyon also had warm water running down it. I only made it half a mile or so before my ankle stopped me. It was just too painful to climb the ropes. It was still a great canyon to walk around in while I waited for the guys. Oozing hot springs with crystal and mineral beds were everywhere.

Lots of little seeps were in all the walls.


The next stop was further downstream at Palm Canyon. This canyon wasn't a slot canyon and was aptly named with many palm trees lining the bottom. There was a nice waterfall at the bottom that was nice and warm. Great time for a quick rinse. We arrived back at camp around 3pm and the storm clouds were rolling in. I took a nice afternoon nap and awoke to wind and threatening rain. Around 5:30 it started to rain before we had time to make dinner. We all piled into Kyle's large dome tent to play some cards and wait out the rain. We ended up playing Spades for like 3 hours as it poured outside!!! I was on Kyle's team and unfortunately we lost to Brian and Jeff. Dammit… The rain finally let up and we headed off to bed. We never did get any dinner!! As I was falling asleep a western screech owl started hooting. I love their call the way it starts slowly and speeds up quickly. Then a great horned owl started hooting, what a great way to fall asleep! Right as I was drifting off, a flash bulb went off outside my tent and scared the shit out of me! Brian and Jeff were outside stalking a ringtail that was in our camp. I don't think the picture turned out, but the flash sure woke me up! I've seen ringtails before so I just went back to sleep, I was tired.

Day 3:

I woke up early, around 6am to start breaking camp. We had a long day ahead with many miles to cover. I tricked the guys into getting up by telling them a storm was moving in and they had better break camp before all the gear got wet. It worked! We were packed and on the water by 7:15. We paddled down to White Rock Canyon and tied off the yaks.

White Rock Canyon started pretty narrow.

Then opened up wide as we climbed.


We hiked for a little over a mile up the canyon. It wet from a slot canyon to a large, wide canyon in no time and the sunrise was awesome!! We headed further downstream to Arizona Hot Springs. Most of the other folks in the Black Canyon were camped here. We hiked up the hot springs. Several people were there, but the pools were really large and the water was nice and hot. After an hour or so of relaxing, we headed back to the yaks.

Making our way to to the Arizona Hot Springs.


It was around 11am and we had 4 hours to cover the remaining 7 miles. Problem was the wind. It had kicked up pretty strong. Even paddling downstream, if you stopped paddling for a second, you'd stop and start floating back upstream with the wind! It was HARD work. My shoulders and forearms were screaming, but we had to press on. We saw a huge heard of big horn sheep on the Arizona side and took several pictures.

A great image that Brian captured.


I saw a large eagle, either a golden or bald, but it was too far to tell, plus I saw a couple red tailed hawks flying high doing a mating dance in the air. It was great. Near the take-out point we stopped at the old gauging station and took a little hike. The wildflowers were plentiful here and the sun was nice.

The wildflowers were nice!


We finally paddled the last mile to the take-out. All of the groups that we came in with arrived on time, but our van driver was M.I.A. He arrived a half-hour late complaining of traffic on the dam. We survived though!


Final Thoughts:


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