Apr 6, 2022

Black Canyon Kayak Adventure: History, Tips, and How to Visit

black canyon kayaking

A mere 25 miles southeast of the city of Las Vegas, nestled between Boulder City and the Colorado River, is the Black Canyon Wilderness Area. Contained within the area’s 13,400 acres are creeks, 18 miles of trails, hillsides, endless vegetation, and thrilling wildlife like deer, elk, mountain lions, rattlesnakes, bears, coyotes, and even wolverines. There’s no shortage of opportunities if you’re looking for adventure (and especially if you’re interested in Colorado River kayaking). But one thing you can’t miss is kayaking Black Canyon along the Black Canyon Water Trail.

What is the Black Canyon Water Trail?

Back in 2014, this section of the Colorado River was officially designated as a “National Water Trail.” This set a new record as the first National Water Trail in the Southwest as well as the first that flows through a desert. There are numerous points you can access the Black Canyon Water Trail from, including the Hoover Dam and Willow Beach in Arizona.

While it’s certainly a sight to behold, the beauty of Black Canyon goes beyond what the eye sees. It’s steeped in history and gives you a slice of the Southwest that you won’t find elsewhere. It’s no surprise that this is one of the most common destinations for people who want to visit the Colorado River — las vegas locals and tourists alike!

Going on a Black Canyon Kayak Trip

What can you expect on your Black Canyon Kayak trip?

First, let’s talk about the area itself. The Black Canyon Water Trail spans 30 miles. It’s home to hot springs, plenty of wildlife, sandy beaches, caves (Emerald Cave is only a couple of miles away), coves, and a sense of peace that you can’t find in the city.

Adventures while kayaking at Emerald Cave in Black Canyon Willow Beach

As you kayak Black Canyon, you’ll be making your way through the Lake Mead National Recreation Area — a treasure in its own right — between the Hoover Dam and Willow Beach. You won’t be alone on your trip. Keep your eyes peeled for desert bighorn sheep, turkey vultures, bald eagles, red-tail hawks, and coyotes.

Who Can Kayak Black Canyon?

The short answer? Anyone and everyone! It’s not a whitewater adventure. This part of the Colorado River is flat. So, if you happen to be a beginner kayaker, or if you’ve got the kids with you, then you’re in good shape. The moving flat-water means that no matter your experience level, it’ll be a safe and enjoyable journey. (We always welcome seasoned pros, too! Everyone can enjoy kayaking Black Canyon.)

4 Tips for a Black Canyon Kayak Trip

To enjoy your experience to the fullest, here are a few basic kayaking tips to help you get ready.

1. Prepare for the Sun — Especially if You’re Kayaking in the Summer

The temperatures here are no joke, so plan accordingly! Apply SPF (liberally) before you hit the water, and be sure to reapply it every few hours. Sunglasses will shield your eyes from the glare of the sun bouncing off the water. And a hat will keep you cool and protect your scalp from sunburn.

2. Wear Your Lifejacket

This isn’t a mere suggestion. It’s the law. “But I can swim,” you’re saying, “and you said that the waters of Black Canyon are calm!” They are indeed, and we’re sure you’re a great swimmer. But getting caught without a life vest is the last thing you need because you can actually be fined for it.

Plus, while they might be rare, accidents can and do happen. So, before you even step into your kayak, tighten on your lifejacket so you can keep yourself safe.

four people taking adventures while kayaking the willow beach in Black Canyon

3. Go with an Experienced Guide

Can you kayak Black Canyon solo? Absolutely! But going with a guide offers a few important benefits. First, they’ll make sure you have the necessary permits and permission in advance.

They can also help with logistics like locating the best start and finish point. Plus, as we talked about already, there are so many cool things you won’t want to miss along the way. Someone who’s already knowledgeable about Black Canyon will be able to point out all the amazing things it has to offer.

And lastly, no one is better equipped to keep you safe than a guide. Should the weather turn or your kayak tips, they’ll know exactly what to do.

4. Wear Clothing You Don’t Mind Getting Wet

This is a water sport, after all. Avoid cotton, because it stays wet very long. Some people prefer long sleeves to protect them from the heat and sun. And be sure to wear a bathing suit underneath. For shoes, wear something that provides support and stability and won’t slip off your feet. (Flip flops might seem like an obvious choice, but avoid them. They’re not secure enough.)

man adventuring in hot springs in willow beach black canyon

If you’re not sure what to wear based on the season, chat with your guide! They’ll be able to help you.

How Do I Schedule a Black Canyon Kayak Tour?

We thought you’d never ask!

Evolution Expeditions offers several guided kayak tours that allow you to experience Black Canyon by kayak. If you sign up for our Hoover Dam kayak tour, we’ll start at the base of the Hoover Dam and make our way down the Colorado River, through Black Canyon. The trip also includes a hot springs hike, waterfalls, slot canyons, and a pitstop at Emerald Cave. It lasts roughly seven hours, and you’ll paddle a distance of about 12 miles. It really is the total package.

We also offer numerous Emerald Cave kayaking options: the deluxe kayak with lunch and a shuttle, a tour with lunch only, and the express tour. All three will take you through Black Canyon. It depends on how long you want to be gone, how far you want to paddle, and what you’d like included in your visit.

Our kayak guides are the best in the Southwest. They’ve been paddling personally and professionally for many years. They have a vast knowledge of the area. And we require all of them to undergo a series of intense training programs. These cover elements like rescue techniques, wind and weather patterns, and necessary certifications.

When you paddle with Evolution Expeditions, you can rest assured that you’re in good hands.

Do you have a few questions before you’ll book your tour? We’d love to chat! Contact us today.

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