Aug 29, 2022

Understanding the Black Canyon & Colorado River

Kayakers on black canyon colorado river las vegas

Every kayak adventure is always a trip of a lifetime. There’s nothing like floating around vast deserts and mountains. But what if you don’t have that much time to travel? In Las Vegas, you can explore the natural attractions in many ways without hours of travel time. After shopping and partying, kayak the Black Canyon Water Trail for a quick, peaceful escape!

The Black Canyon Water Trail

The Black Canyon Water Trail is situated along the remote sections of the Colorado River on the Nevada and Arizona border. An enchanting 30-mile stretch of rugged landscapes, it starts from the Hoover Dam's base and ends at the Eldorado Canyon. 

It became a national water trail in 2014, the first ever in the Southwestern part of the country and the first to pass through a desert. 

Today, thousands of people kayak the Black Canyon Water Trail as part of their mindfulness retreats and outdoor adventures. Only around 45 minutes from the Strip, it's a favorite spot for kayakers and water sport enthusiasts who don't want to travel too far from the entertainment district.

A group kayaking in Black Canyon Colorado River in Las Vegas

The Black Canyon as Part of the Colorado River

The Black Canyon is located along the Arizona and Las Vegas, Nevada border, covering more than 17,000 acres of rough terrains. The Eldorado Mountains encompass its western wall, while the Black Mountains of Arizona surround the eastern end. 

From rolling hills to steep volcanic cliffs, the region is known for its varying landscapes and geological formations, emerging from volcanic activities in the area millions of years ago. As a result, the presence of plants and animals in several parts of the canyons differs. 

Due to differing flora, temperature, and elevation levels, wildlife learned to be adaptive enough to survive and thrive. Joshua trees, cacti, and shrubs are common in the Black Canyon wilderness, but more diverse vegetation is found in places closer to water. 

The Black Canyon and its natural hot springs have always been spiritual healing places for the Navajo people. For thousands of years, Native Americans resided in the area, so expect to see left-behind traces of their past settlements as you roam around. While hiking, watch out for rock carvings and old artifacts! 

Depending on the parts you want to explore, you may also come across coyotes, desert bighorn sheep, bobcats, and geckos. Kayaking is a more serene excursion that allows you to observe wildlife at a safe distance. 

From your kayak, take every opportunity to take photos of red-tailed hawks, peregrine falcons, osprey, and bald eagles. Every corner of the Black Canyon is a sight to behold, filled with hot springs, beaches, caves, waterfalls, and slot canyons. 

The Colorado River

The Colorado River stretches almost 1,500 miles, starting from the La Poudre Pass Lake and leading to seven western U.S. States and parts of northwest Mexico. Considered the "lifeline of the Southwest," it supplies water to nearly 40 million people and hydroelectric power to more than 780,000 households each year.

It started to take shape six million years ago when water started flowing off the mountains, cutting through rock formations downward and eventually forming a channel for the river to run through. Even today, this process carries on, leading to wider, deeper canyons.

Like the Black Canyon, the river itself traverses varying natural environments and serves as a home to a diverse ecosystem. It is divided into two basins. The lower section comprises Nevada, Arizona, and California while the upper part constitutes Utah, Wyoming, and New Mexico. 

The Colorado River has an average depth of 20 feet, with some parts as deep as 90 feet. Certain parts of the river are known for their thrilling rapids, but some sections are calm enough for relaxing kayaking trips with the entire family. 

Two people riding kayaks along Black canyon Colorado River near Las Vegas

Attractions Around the Black Canyon Water Trail

So, what else is happening in and around the Black Canyon Water Trail? Here are a few activities to add to your itinerary if you're planning to kayak in Las Vegas.

1. Hoover Dam

The Hoover Dam is an engineering marvel built to irrigate, produce hydropower, and control flooding of the Colorado River. This mega structure is 726 feet tall and 1,244 feet long. It provides billions of kilowatt-hours of hydroelectric power to more than a million people in Arizona, Nevada, and California. Besides paddling around Hoover Dam, people can take an informative tour to explore its interiors and hydroelectric generators! 

2. Emerald Cave

If you want an unforgettable Las Vegas kayaking tour, this is it. The Emerald Cave is carved within the secluded parts of the Black Canyon. It's a very tight cave with a small opening, so only kayaks and other small boats can fit inside. The cave is the highlight of many kayaking tours because of its emerald green waters due to the sunlight hitting the algae underneath the water and the brown canyon walls. 

Kayaking in Emerald Cave Las Vegas

3. Willow Beach

Willow Beach is just about an hour away from the Strip, perfect for those who want to kayak, fish, camp, and sightsee around nature. The Willow Beach Marina and Campground, where the beach is located, is a popular nature adventure spot. It has its rental service and RV and tent campgrounds. Visitors are also allowed to swim in certain areas, but you need to be extra careful, as there are no lifeguards on duty. 

4. Lake Mead

Lake Mead is a massive reservoir created due to the Hoover Dam's construction. It's around 110 miles long and 532 feet at its deepest. The Colorado River is just one of Lake Mead's many water sources. Apart from ensuring water supply, this beautiful lake serves another purpose. Lake Mead lies within the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, a sanctuary for families and solo travelers who crave outdoor fun. 

Book Your Black Canyon Water Trail Kayak Tour Today

Ready to plan your next river adventure? The Black Canyon Water Trail is one of the best U.S. destinations for nature lovers. Let us help you plan your kayak tour, ensure your safety, and educate you about Las Vegas’ natural wonders! Our tour guides know the area inside and out, so you're guaranteed to get the most of your Las Vegas kayaking trip.

Check our full list of guided kayaking tours in Las Vegas or contact us for more information.

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