The One Las Vegas Experience Everyone is Missing Out On
Big Horn Sheep
Getting our kayak near Hoover Dam
Black Canyon kayaking tour is the one Las Vegas experience everyone is missing out on. Within an hour from the strip, Lake Mojave winds its way between towering canyon walls and alongside some of the most unexpected terrain in the American Southwest, including cave saunas, island turquoise water, and secluded hot springs.
On a recent Viator Tour, I embarked on a full day kayaking trip that is now my go-to Vegas adventure.
Starting bright and early, the Viator tour picks you up from your Vegas hotel and takes you for a 50- minute drive to the desert. Once there, you are teamed up with your kayak (they have double or single kayaks, depending on who you are traveling with) and the skillful and friendly guide talks about the type of trip you’re about to embark on. Depending on the day, kayakers have been known to see bald eagles, Big Horn sheep, and hawks. And that’s just the wildlife.
The kayak trip is long- it’s a full day- and you’ll be kayaking for most of it. The full course is 12 miles, with lots of stops along the way. The adventure stops and the changing scenery were my favorite part of the entire tour.
While the trip down stream is lined with dozens of stops, here are my picks for Black Canyon’s top five most amazing sights and experiences.
1.) Emerald Cove – Pulling into the cove, the clear emerald water tosses up a web of teal light that dances across the cavern walls. This is one of the most talked about spots on the river, and being within two miles of the Marina, is the most accessible stop for visitors not wanting a full day trip.
2.) Sauna Cave – Simply put, this is one of my top travel surprises ever. Climbing into the cave, the desert atmosphere is immediately replaced by thick, humid air and a wading pool knee-to-waist deep. Along the walls, the rock exterior is gradually overtaken by what look like flowstones giving the pitch-black corridor a magical feel. Slowly the water subsides and the cave dead ends into a small cavern, where the thick sauna air can reach 120 degree Fahrenheit, perfect for a steam.
3.) Arizona Hot Springs – These hot pools, sunk in between narrow canyon walls are the most secluded springs I’ve ever visited. Just a short hike from the shore, and at the top of a waterfall, this series of pools is literally wedged between towering canyon walls making the entire experience feel like you’ve stumbled upon something secret.
4.) Gold Strike Canyon – Weeping Rocks, waterfalls, and temperature controlled hot springs, this is one of the most geologically exciting places I’ve visited and I don’t understand how I hadn’t heard about it before. Nearly right off the shore, the canyon is covered in a huge variety of eye-catching sights, like weeping rocks and waterfalls. One of the highlights was a hot pool built at the base of two streams, one hot and one cold, so the bathers could naturally regulate the temperature.
5.) The River/Lake – Emerald green, sapphire blue, the water is the color of Italian sorbet, and, continually, its vibrancy blew me away. Not only is the water in Black Canyon nearly identical to ocean in Cancun, it’s unbelievably clear. The Hoover Dam filters out sediment from upstream, so when paddling through the canyon, the lakebed is visible down to nearly 30 feet, all along the way I could watch submerged rock towers pass beneath the kayak.
Must note: The only way to reach the starting point of the tour, with a kayak put-in right under the Hoover Dam, is to take this Viator tour. They only allow 40 park passes a day and while you can express Black Canyon through the park without a pass, you can not get that close to the Dam without one.
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