Adventure Trip: Kayaking The Colorado River

If you’ve been following The Outdoor Princess blogs these past weeks then you know that ESP Boss & I had been planning a trip to kayaking the Colorado River from Hoover Dam to Willow Beach. It’s a total trip of about 13 miles, goes past 3 hot springs, 2 sets of rapids, and is the perfect place to see Rocky Mountain Sheep.

We started our trip early on Sunday October 18. In order to kayak this section of the river, you HAVE to be launched by an outfitter and have the proper permits. That’s because of security measures since we’re so close to the dam.

Water Flow

The floating rope bows out more when more water is released from the dam.

We launched about 9:00 in the morning. There was water being released from the dam and the outfitter warned us that the river could rise as much as TEN FEET in as little as an hour. Boy was I glad to know that ESP Boss had brought some rope so we could tie up the kayaks! I hadn’t even THOUGHT of bringing rope to tie up the yaks; I just figured we’d be able to pull them out of the water like we do at a lake.

Our first stop was a sauna cave. This was a man-made tunnel that goes back into the canyon wall. There’s a hot spring the bubbles up about 3/4 of the way back that heats the cave to a “balmy” 140.

sauna cave

That water was knee deep at the entrance was bath-water warm!

Next stop was Gold Strike Canyon. Here’s we got out to hike up the canyon to the hot springs AND to lay down some footage of our adventure. It’s currently in post-production but will be finished soon so I can show you more of the trip.

Gold Strike Canyon

Some pools of water were too hot to put a foot in let alone SIT in!

By the time we got back into the kayaks, the rapids just outside the mouth of Gold Strike Canyon were running. More water was being released from the dam so the river flow was higher (a LOT higher) and the rapids were very noisy.

Neither ESP Boss or I had really ever kayaked rapids before. What an adrenaline rush! Thankfully, we made it through the rapids without any problems; dry and upright!

From the first set of rapids, we headed to Boy Scout Canyon for more hot springs. But, since it was starting to get really cloudy (the whole day was overcast) and we could hear thunder moving closer, we hurried on towards our pre-planned camping spot near Arizona Hot Springs.

Boy Scout Canyon

It was a lot of fun splashing through the warm hot-spring-fed stream on the canyon floor.

The only problem? Arizona Hot Springs is just on the other side of Ringbolt Rapids. These rapids made the first set (never did find out their name!) seem like NOTHING. And, we could see a TON of people camping there. So we skirted the rapids and camped at one beach upriver from Arizona Hot Springs.

Want to hear about our camp? Check out the article on called Camp Setup Order of Priorities.

The next morning, we hiked over a couple of ridges to Arizona Hot Springs. You’re going to have to see this on film to believe it. Fantastic!

Arizona Hot Springs

I'm just about ready to climb that slippery rock to get to the next pool of hot water.

But, a word of caution about the hot springs. Most people wear clothes or bathing suits, but we did encounter a couple of people who were, how should I put it? Naked! Yep, apparently it’s not all that uncommon to run into people enjoying hot springs in their birthday suits. You’ve been warned!

After our dip in the hot springs, we headed back to camp to break camp and head down the river. We got to Willow Beach about 4:00 in the afternoon.

Now, you might be asking how we had heard about this trip. We found it in the book, Paddling Arizona by Tyler Williams. (That’s an affiliate link.) The only thing is that the information about this trip was kind of light. So, we’re working on a new eGuide that will cover EVERYTHING you need to know about this trip, including stuff to watch for (side canyons, hot springs, and the catwalk), GPS coordinates, photos and more.

Paddling Arizona

This is a good all-around refrence to kayking in Arizona.

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