Black Canyon

The Hoover Dam. It's big. It's pretty. And it blocks a river. On one side of the dam is Lake Meade. On the other, the Black Canyon Water Trail.

A spontaneous decision to go canoeing along with a bit of luck and an early morning drive got us a permit to launch a canoe just below the Hoover Dam. The cold, crystal clear water welcomed us to this otherwise sweltering desert. We had 12 miles to go and a pickup scheduled the next afternoon--plenty of time to explore.

So explore we did. Numerous slot canyons line the main canyon, with small beaches providing access. Many of these canyons have natural springs feeding them, with many of the springs providing hot water. The bacterial mats forming around the springs are full of temperature-based color, contrasting beautifully with the rock walls.

We meant for this to be a leisurely float downriver but the headwind was strong enough to push us upriver instead. The paddling was hard but it was easy to cool off with a quick dip in the river. We went about half way, set up camp, and suffered through the heat of the night--periodic dips in the water were needed to cool down enough to sleep.

The next day, we rose with the sun and proceeded downstream. The wind kept up but the terrain changed, with less slots and more caves lining the walls. Many of these caves were big enough to fit the canoe and provided a reprieve from the heat and the sun. The water was a beautiful emerald color, also reflecting green light onto the walls of the caves. Truly spectacular to see.

We eventually made it to our pickup point, Willow Beach. We were sad to leave the river but glad to get out of the heat and the wind. We got back to our car, devoured some burgers, and drove home refreshed from our brief trip in the wilderness.