Black Canyon River Rafting Tour – Las Vegas
For a full refund, cancel at least 24 hours in advance of the start date of the experience. Tours booked using discount coupon codes will be non refundable.
Enjoy calm waters and magnificent scenery on this unique rafting day trip between the Black Canyon cliffs on the Colorado River. Relax and admire beauty of Black Canyon and views of Hoover Dam while your experienced and knowledgeable guide shares the history of this magnificent geological area.
Free hotel pickup and drop-off included
Led by a local guide
Travel by boat and see the sights from the water
All necessary equipment included
Know More about this tour
Accompanied by your friendly and informative guide, you’ll travel to the launch area at the base of the Hoover Dam for a view of the dam that very few people have the opportunity to see. The large, comfortable rafts have multiple air chambers and are outfitted with all the Coast Guard required and recommended safety equipment.
The Black Canyon’s high walls will leave you breathless, so remember to bring your camera! You may spot desert big horn sheep, osprey and great blue heron in their natural setting. The raft stops along the shore to give you a chance to swim or paddle in the cool clear waters below Hoover Dam. You could take this opportunity to enjoy the box lunch provided, while watching and listening to the sights and sounds of this magnificent desert.
Your trip ends on the Arizona side of the river at Willow Beach, where you will have the chance to shop for distinctive souvenirs of your trip, before returning to your Las vegas hotel.
Black Canyon rafting
Hotel pickup and drop-off
Entry/Admission – Colorado River
Entry/Admission – Willow Beach
Confirmation will be received at time of booking
We recommend you wear comfortable clothes and shoes. In the summer time, bring sun block, hats and sunglasses.
Please note: there are no restrooms available on this tour. The raft trip is approximately 3 to 3.5 hours with a couple of stops made along the riverbank.
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Kathy B 28-Sep-2018
Had a great time. Guide Scott was very informative and interesting to listen down the river. The only criticism was not enough time to do souvenir shopping at end of trip.
Jeff V 30-Aug-2018
Was an amazing tour. Our guide was knowledgeable and kept it interesting. The views of the river and canyon were beautiful. Well worth the money.
Raymond W 22-Feb-2018
Although this tour was taken some time ago – we still have great memories.
Raymond W 22-Feb-2018
Great experience – has to be done.
Judith F 03-Nov-2017
We were picked up from our hotel at the scheduled time. The rafting trip was excellent with beautiful scenery and a knowkedgeable guide. A great day on the water!
Diane M 01-Nov-2017
fantastic day – fantastic tour guide – peaceful relaxing change of scenery from hustle of Vegas
Kimberley O 16-Oct-2017
This tour was amazing. It was so lovely to float down the river. The guides were so friendly and knowledgeable. Highly recconeded
Jim E 24-Aug-2017
Transport there and back was very well arranged. Picked up from hotel by shuttle bus, and returned by tour operator. For once weather was cool with some rain, but did not detract from experience. Able to view Hoover dam from below, and then explore Black Canyon with very knowledgeable guide. Good lunch provided, and as much water as you could drink. Very peaceful, and a welcome break from the overcrowded Las Vegas casinos. Highly recommended for those wanting a different Las Vegas experience
Mark B 25-May-2017
Excellent tour. Starts near the bottom of the dam and great visuals throughout the entire trip. Guides are well informed and keep the trip informative and lively with many photo ops. At lunch on a small river beach take a dive in the river which will be refreshing and is guaranteed to get rid of any hangover from a night out in Vegas. A towel, sunscreen and a hat are needed for this wonderful trip.
Tamara G 24-Feb-2017
Grand Canyon rafting trips From Las Vegas 2022-2023
Grand Canyon rafting trips are probably the most adventurous way to explore this magnificent wonder along with the Colorado River that created it. There are plenty of ways to do that. Below you will find some of the best one day rafting tours down the Colorado River departing from Las Vegas, as well as multi-day tours, leisurely family friendly (smooth water) and more challenging (white water rafting) tours departing from the Grand Canyon in 2022-2023.
Grand canyon rafting and Helicopter Flight
Duration – 11 hours
Seeing the Grand Canyon from the tourist lookout is awe-inspiring! Just imagine how it feels to raft down the Canyon Colorado River and then soar overhead in a helicopter. Now you can do all this on one exciting trip. Your group will collected at your hotel and set off for Boulder City. Once there, meet your pilot and crew and board the helicopter for a one hour flight over the Grand Canyon West Rim. Learn all about the Hoover Dam and be awed by the panoramic views over the Dam, the Black Canyon and Bypass Bridge. Then fly over the extinct volcano known as Fortification Hill. Your flights circles over the massive Colorado River and the Mojave Desert. Make sure you snap photos of the surreal rock formations, pillars and buttresses.
After landing and catching your breath, you will head to the River Launch area where your personal guide will get you settled onto a comfortable river raft. The fun starts as you drift slowly along the river, watching out for wildlife, birds and amazing scenery that will be pointed out to you. Look out for the Great Blue Heron, Big Horn Sheep and Osprey. The high walls of the canyon rising up on either side of you will leave you tingling with excitement as you negotiate the twists and turns. Safety is a top priority and your guide will be with you at all times. When you want a break, the raft stops at a lovely secluded beach where you can take a dip and enjoy a scrumptious picnic while relaxing on the sands in blissful peace. Once refreshed, continue your rafting trip to Willow Beach on the Arizona side. Explore the local stores and buy a hand made souvenir to take home as a reminder of this awesome Grand Canyon Rafting experience.
2-Day White Water Rafting Tour through the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas
Duration – 2 days
There is nothing more adrenaline filled you can do in your lifetime than take the 2 day White Water Rafting Tour through the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas. Your 2-day paddling adventure begins with complimentary pick-up service at your hotel. As you drive to the Grand Canyon you will pass by the Hoover Dam and travel along famous Route 66. You will stop for a break at Kingman, Arizona where you can purchase breakfast before heading to the Hualapai Lodge. Here you will travel to the base of the Grand Canyon and receive all of your camping gear (if rented). After a quick safety meeting and meeting your expert rafting guide, you hit the water. The first day is packed when you raft through nine separate rapids that can reach as high as class 7. You will stop for a moderate hike to the tumbling waters of Travertine Falls and then continue down the river. There will be lunch stop late in the day and you will set-up camp on a secluded beach near the river. Night time brings stars, campfire and stories while you indulge in a free cowboy style cookout that includes all the fixings. Day 2 you wake up to a hot breakfast before you start paddling down the mighty Colorado River. This day is a little more relaxing with time to take a dip in the water and there is a short nature hike after lunch. You exit the river at Pierce Ferry where your excursion concludes with drop-off service back at your Las Vegas hotel.
White Water Rafting With Helicopter Transfer
Duration – 15 hours
Prepare to get wet as you explore the caves in search for hidden waterfalls during this exciting 5,5 hour Grand Canyon rafting tour from Las Vegas ! You will be picked up from your Las Vegas hotel and taken to Peach Springs in Arizona, Hualapai land, where your 40 mile (64km) rafting adventure down the Colorado river will begin.
Your knowledgeable local guide will take you through class 3 to class 6 rapids, with frequent stops so you could discover the waterfalls and canyons not visible from the river. Lunch box is included in this trip. At the end of this tour, you will enjoy a short helicopter ride to the Grand Canyon West Rim. After the trip you will safely return to your Las Vegas hotel.
3-Hour Black Canyon Tour by Motorized Raft
If you are seeking to have some fun on the water combined with an adventurous trip down the Colorado River, then you need to try the Black Canyon River Adventure. Your 6-hour water adventure begins with hotel pick-up service where you are transported to Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Here you will meet your expert river guide and travel down the historic Lower Portal Road which was used while constructing Hoover Dam. Once near the Colorado River you are outfitted with safety equipment for your river journey before you board a motorized pontoon boat. Now the fun begins when your boat enters the mighty Colorado River and follows the historic Black Canyon National Water Trail for 12-miles. During the three-hours on the river you will see many waterfalls, native wildlife like big horn sheep, hot springs, and the sheer cliff walls of the Black Canyon. While on the water your expert guide informs you of interesting historical and natural facts about the canyon and the river. Half-way through your tour you make a stop on a sandy beach where you can take a dip into the river or relax while having a box lunch. Your exciting day on the water concludes when you take-out of the water and are transported back to your hotel.
40 miles Self Drive One Day White Water Rafting Tour
Duration – 17 hours
This Grand Canyon rafting trip is similar does not include a hotel pick up and drop off. This tour is ideal if you own or have rented a car and prefer to drive to Hualapai land by yourself. A van will be waiting for you at Peach Springs to take you to the base camp of the Colorado River for your rafting adventure 5,5 hours and 40 miles (64 km) long.
After the trip, you will board a helicopter for a short ride to the West Rim of the Grand Canyon. There you will have time to shop for some souvenirs at the gift store. After that, a van will take you back to Peach Springs where your parked your car, and you can return to Las Vegas by yourself.
Smooth Water Rafting With Helicopter Flight by Papillon
Duration: 10 hours
This is a luxurious day trip that includes a helicopter flight to the West Rim of the Grand Canyon, landing at the bottom at a private landing ground, a champagne toast and lunch in the quiet Indian Ramada overlooking the Colorado River, plenty of opportunities for photos, and, of course, an exhilarating Grand Canyon rafting tour from Las Vegas. The rafting itself is 11 miles long in a motorized raft in smooth water.
This is an excellent tour that will let you explore all the famous landmarks in one trip: incredible views from helicopter of the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon, Skywalk bridge, Lake Mead. Plus, you will enjoy fun day out in nature and an opportunity to swim in the river.
This trip includes hotel pick up and drop off.
Smooth Water Rafting With Airplane Flight
Duration – 12.5 hours, Departure: Grand Canyon
This tour departs from Grand Canyon Airlines terminal. You will get on board of an airplane that will take you to Page, Arizona, flying over the East Rim of the Grand Canyon.
At Page, you will take a jeep tour of the incredible Antelope Canyon and explore its sandstone rock formations before boarding a raft to take smooth water Colorado River rafting trip.
In the middle of your Grand Canyon rafting trip, you will stop to explore the ancient Indian petroglyphs along the banks of the river.
Grand Canyon Smooth Water Rafting Tour
Duration – 12.5 hours, Departure: Grand Canyon
This tour departs from either the Grand Canyon Airlines airport or the Maswick Lodge. This is a very basic tour, very family friendly – perfect for kids as young as 4 years old.
An air-conditioned motorcoach will take you to Page, Arizona, where you will take 15,5 miles smooth water Grand Canyon rafting tour starting at the Glen Canyon Dam. This tour includes lunch break and a short hiking stop to explore the famous ancient Indian petroglyphs. Upon completion of the rafting journey, you will return to the Grand Canyon by motorcoach.
What to wear during Grand Canyon rafting trips : In hot weather, wear comfortable shorts and T-shirt on top of a swimming suit – you may stop for a swimming session. Wear either tennis shoes or rubber sandals – do not wear flip flops as this trip is action-packed and flip flops will stand in the way. In cold weather make sure you packed your rain gear, as you may get very wet. Also don’t forget to take you sun block, and plastic bag for your camera, money and other belongings.
A Secret Vegas Oasis: Kayaking the Black Canyon Water Trail
The Black Canyon Water Trail is a paddling paradise located 45 minutes from Las Vegas. Soak in hot springs, explore hidden canyons, and more!
Many people visit Las Vegas thinking that the only place to take a dip is in their hotel pool. It’s the desert after all, right? Well, I’m about to show you a secret side of Sin City that most locals don’t even know about: the Black Canyon Water Trail.
Located about 45 minutes for the Vegas Strip, this 30-mile stretch of water along the Colorado River is a paddler’s paradise. The waterway begins directly below the Hoover Dam and is loaded with dramatic desert landscapes, narrow slot canyons, and some seriously awesome hot springs.
Organizing a day trip or overnight paddle on the Black Canyon is super easy. I’ve done it twice and in my opinion, it’s one of the best outdoor adventures near Las Vegas.
Cool off with a paddle down the Black Canyon Water Trail. Learn how to book a shuttle, what gear you need, unique highlights and more.
Important Reminder: As outdoor recreationists, it’s our responsibility to know how to recreate responsibly on the water whether we’re kayaking, paddleboarding, canoeing, rafting, or boating. Learn how to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species with 3 easy steps that have a huge impact on our ecosystems.
Black Canyon Water Trail Map + Overview
The Black Canyon Water Trail is a 30-mile stretch of the Colorado River that starts at the base of Hoover Dam and ends at Eldorado Canyon. Along the way, paddlers can explore numerous slot canyons, secluded beaches, hidden caves, hot springs, and so much more.
A popular day or overnight paddle is to do a 12-mile stretch from Hoover Dam to Willow Beach, which I provide more details on below. This stretch of water is typically flat, calm, and easy to maneuver in a kayak. If you choose to do the full 30 miles, the water further down the canyon can be fast-moving in places with hidden rocks under the surface.
There are mile markers on the river bank, so it is easy to navigate and keep track of your progress whether you’re doing a day trip or an overnight excursion.
Year-round water temps are typically in the low to mid-50s.
Shuttle & Permit Information for the Black Canyon Water Trail
Whether you’re doing a day trip or an overnight paddle, a shuttle from an approved vendor is required to get to the launch point of the Black Canyon Water Trail. The launching point is actually located in a Federal Security Zone, so you have only 15 minutes to get your gear together and launch your boat.
In addition to the shuttle, a permit is also required for both day and overnight paddlers. Permits are granted when booking your shuttle with an approved vendor. Each permit costs $32 and they can sell out months in advance, so grab your spot early! You can find a list of approved shuttle companies here.
Guided vs Self-Guided Tour
Depending on your skill and comfort on the water, paddlers can opt for a guided or self-guided kayak tour of the Black Canyon. For newer paddlers, it’s highly recommended to do a guided tour since the canyon is remote in places and rescue options are limited. A tour guide will also be able to tell you all about the local geology and make sure you don’t miss the best canyon sites.
For experienced kayakers, you can arrange for a shuttle to drop you off at the start and pick you up downriver. Both times I kayaked the Black Canyon I used the local company Desert Adventures for shuttles. They provide both guided trips and boat rentals for a reasonable price that includes round-trip shuttle transportation. They also rent dry bags, camping gear, and anything else you might need.
Day vs Overnight Excursions
If you only have one day to explore the Black Canyon, a popular option is to do the 12-mile paddle from Hoover Dam to Willow Beach. Along the way, there are numerous opportunities to explore side canyons, hot springs, geological sites, and more.
See some of my favorite highlights in the next section below.
If you have more time or want to explore further down the Black Canyon, which extends 18 more miles to Eldorado Canyon, you can plan an overnight trip – either guided or self-guided. An overnight trip allows you to really enjoy the hot springs and solitude of the canyon whether you’re only doing the first 12 miles or the whole length.
Camping is allowed on any available beach, with a pit toilet located at Arizona Hot Springs.
Multi-day kayakers are required to pack out all trash and solid human waste in a portable toilet (if you don’t use the pit toilet at Arizona Hot Springs). Kayakers must also be confident in their kayaking and self-rescue skills. For tips on planning an overnight kayaking trip, head over to our Kayak Camping blog post.
Boat Options for Exploring the Black Canyon
You can paddle the Black Canyon Water Trail on a paddleboard or in a kayak or canoe. They each have their advantages depending on the season and whether you’re doing a day or overnight trip.
Stand-up Paddle Board
For my second trip on the Black Canyon, I opted for a stand-up paddleboard and unfortunately, the conditions were not ideal. All day, we were paddling against a strong headwind and the water was relatively rough. It was fun but tough, and we spent most of our time kneeling as it was more efficient against the gusts…. not really the most comfortable for 12 whole miles.
The water in the Colorado River is also pretty frigid, so I would only recommend paddle boarding on a hot summer day with no wind.
In 2011, I paddled the Black Canyon Water Trail in a single kayak over a two-day period, camping at Arizona Hot Springs. The kayak was efficient and easy to steer. For a single-day adventure, I think a kayak is the right way to go. The downside of a kayak if you choose to camp is that you will have to pack light since there is limited space to strap on your gear.
If you have a larger group and are planning on camping overnight, definitely consider renting canoes. A canoe allows you to carry more gear, including coolers. And you know you are going to want that ice-cold beverage when you get to camp!
Best Time to Kayak the Black Canyon Water Trail
The hot springs are what make this paddling trip so unique, so I recommend visiting in the spring or fall when the air temperatures are comfortable and you can actually enjoy them. Summer is also nice, but as you can guess, the Vegas heat is extremely intense making a hot spring soak pretty unpleasant from June through September.
Alternatively, during the summer months, you can spend more time in the river, where the water temperatures average a very cool 54 degrees. Some hot springs including Gold Strike and Arizona, are closed from mid-May to September due to extreme temperatures.
Black Canyon Water Trail Highlights
There are dozens of fun, cool, and unique stops and sights along the Black Canyon Water Trail. If you want to see all of them, you’ll need to do a 1-2 night trip. Below are a few of my favorite highlights, but feel free to explore further.
Also note that since rain and flooding can alter the geography of the side canyons, the description and pictures of these sites may also change from season to season. For the most up-to-date information, visit the National Park Service’s Black Canyon Water Trail website.
Additionally, water levels are controlled by releases from the Hoover Dam and the height of the Colorado River can change drastically from hour to hour. This means that a beach you park on could be underwater an hour later. When you stop to explore the side canyons, make sure to tie up your boat!
Note that mile markers are measured in river miles, which is the distance in miles from its mouth, NOT from the start of the Black Canyon Water Trail.
Sauna Cave (mile marker 63)
Sauna Cave is a 50′ man-made tunnel that ends in a geothermal pool and natural steam room. It was originally dug out during the construction of Hoover Dam, but when the workers met the intense heat of the water, they abandoned the tunnel.
You have to do a bit of crawling to make your way to the very back of the cave, but it’s worth it for a good schvitz.
Nevada Hot Springs (mile marker 62.5)
Take a walk up Gold Strike Canyon wash to reach a series of beautiful blue hot springs with temperatures ranging from 85-105 degrees. These pools are also accessible by hiking from the road, so you may encounter larger groups. Gold Strike Canyon is closed from mid-May to September due to extreme temperatures.
Boy Scout Canyon (mile marker 61.75)
The first pools in Boy Scout Canyon are located a 1/4 mile walk upstream from the river. If you want to continue further be prepared to do some scrambling using the ropes that have been installed at some of the small waterfalls.
Arizona Hot Springs (mile marker 59.75)
Out of all of the hot springs along the Black Canyon, these are located in the most dramatic slot canyon with canyon walls that are as narrow as 6 feet apart. Arizona Hot Springs are especially cool at night! The best hot springs are reached by climbing a 20-foot ladder that has been installed by the National Park Service.
Note: The ladder at the Arizona hot springs was damaged by a flood. As of June 2022, there is no access to the upper pools from the river at this time. These hot springs are also closed from mid-May to September due to extreme temperatures.
Emerald Cave (mile marker 54.75)
This is a shallow cave on the Arizona side of the river. When the sun hits it at the right angle, the water sparkles like an incredible emerald gem, making for some really cool photographs.
What to Pack For Your Black Canyon Trip
What gear you need on the Black Canyon Water Trail really depends on whether you are just spending a day on the water or camping overnight. You’ll also need to take into consideration weather conditions, time of year, and personal preferences. Check out our 3-day backpacking checklist for lightweight gear recommendations if you’re doing an overnight trip.
A good rule of thumb is to wear clothes that you don’t mind getting wet and a good pair of water shoes for hiking up the side canyons. The terrain can be a bit rough and flip-flops just won’t cut it. It’s also a good idea to bring a small daypack for the side hikes. Some of the hot springs take a bit of scrambling to reach, and you’ll want to have your hands free.
Day Trip Recommended Essentials
- A small daypack stored in a dry bag
- (a good idea even if you’re doing a day trip, especially if temperatures are hot)
- Water bottles
- for added sun protection or a Bandana to protect your neck from the sun
- Lip Balm
So what are you waiting for? Next time you’re in Vegas, get off the Strip! Your Black Canyon paddling adventure will cost you less than a day at the Cosmo Pool, and it’s so close that you can still celebrate your day on the river with a wild night out on the town.
Would you like to kayak the Black Canyon Water Trail? What questions do you still have? Leave a comment below!
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6 Easy Overnight River Rafting Trips in the Western US
Big Bend Hikes: The Best Trails in the National Park
21 Best Hot Springs in Nevada
13 Best Nevada Road Trip Stops for Outdoor Adventure
Paria Canyon Backpacking Photos
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Written by Kristen Bor
Hey there! My name is Kristen, and this is my outdoor blog. I discovered the power of the outdoors in my 20s, at the time I needed it most. Now 15 years later, prioritizing that critical connection with nature continues to improve my life. My goal at Bearfoot Theory is to empower you with the tools and advice you need to responsibly get outside.
60 comments on “ A Secret Vegas Oasis: Kayaking the Black Canyon Water Trail ”
This sounds awesome! Each time I have been to the Las Vegas area it has been to visit family and friends or to explore the strip. I will be adding this to my itinerary with my next visit. Great info!
Awesome Daidri! You’re gonna love it! If you have any questions, definitely get in touch.
I live in Vegas and love the hot springs! They can get really busy during the day, so an overnight trip is the best! I would suggest the Strawberry Hot Springs outside of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. They are my favorite!
Thanks for the tip Jolene! I’ll have to look up Strawberry Hot Springs next time I’m out in Colorado. For the Black Canyon, I agree camping is the way to go. The first time I did it I camped at Arizona hot springs. What an awesome time! Thanks for sharing.
Do you think a 2 year old could handle a canoe trip through Black Canyon?
Brooke – It’s really hard for me to say. Under calm conditions, I would say it’s doable (depending on your kid). That said, the river does move pretty swift and if you end up going against the wind, you’ll need both people in the canoe to paddle.
I’ve done this trip many times (I live in Vegas). Sauna Cave is a must see, but it can be difficult to find. It’s very close to the location where you get put into the water. I recorded the GPS location at N36.00348, W114.74331.
If I had to pick one canyon to hike up on this trip it would be Boy Scout since you can’t hike down to that canyon. You can easily hike down to Gold Strike or Arizona Hot Springs.
There are ALWAYS people camping at Arizona Hot Springs, often a huge group of Boy Scouts. Get there early if you want a spot. By Saturday mornings I would expect it to be typically full.
I’ve gone a couple times when it was really windy and made it a difficult slog getting to the exit point in time. Safest bet is a tandem kayak (Desert Adventures rents them). I can’t believe someone would SUP down for 12 miles, but it sounds cool!
Thanks for the tips. And yeah it was windy when I did it by SUP. It was a little crazy, but still really fun. Thanks again!
Hi there, have you done SUP to Emeral Cave? is it far? hard to do in this months? also where do yo launch out from?
Yes, I’ve SUPed the entire stretch. Emerald Cave is pretty far down from the launch point which is right below Hoover Dam. Check out the map in the post. If you haven’t done much supping, I’d recommend doing it in a kayak. It’s much more efficient, especially if you run into any upwind.
If you launch from Willow Beach instead of the base of the dam, Emerald Cave is near the beginning, and easy to reach on an SUP. You are paddling upstream from Willow Beach, but that makes an easier downstream trip back to Willow Beach. We did this exact trip justvyesterday!
may u can help us. We are 4 poeple group of german on vacation road trip. We will be in las vegas for 4 days and would kayaking on fr 20.05 from the hoover dam – willow beach. Its not easy for us to find a place to rent kayak. Can u recommend a trade name/link to rent?
This are the infos u need …
we would rent for 4 man a one-man sit in kayak, launch at hoover dam and paddle to willow beach on fr 20.05
1. At which time can we launch there? we are coming from Las Vegas.
2. Is it possible to pick up from willow beach back to hoover dam or should we use a taxi/uper.
3. Tax, kayak and permit and what else in total per person is how much?
Are the mile markers well marked? I’ve booked a day trip with my son in May as a guided tour. The only reason i chose guided at this point is i don’t want us to miss anything.
This sounds pretty amazing. Going to have to check this out, next time I’m in the area. That view of the bridge looks simply awesome.
Can we get to Emerald Cove (unguided) with our own kayaks?
You could, but you’d be kayaking upstream. Also, I’m not sure if that would require a permit from the Park Service. You’d want to double check on that.
Where you able to kayak unguided?? I’m thinking about doing it this month. Thanks
Unguided is definitely an option. But you still need a permit. if there are permits available, you can reserve them when you call to rent your kayaks.
Great info – thank you. Looking to do one long day or an overnight SUP from willow beach to Hoover dam (yes, I know it’s upstream). Any recommendations on dispersed camping stops or tips? Have the gear for water/overnight but just now sorting out logistics
Hi Betsy, you can camp on any available beach along the river, but the only one with pit toilets is Arizona Hot Springs. The map toward the top of this guide has all the pullouts and “things to see” along the way listed. Definitely recommend the hot springs, sauna cave, and emerald cave. Please note that even with your own gear, you need a permit to camp overnight. Have fun!
We are heading to Lake Las Vegas and would love to try this trip. We have an inflatable canvas kayak and four small dogs that go with us. Question; where would we launch and can we go up a way and then come back down to our car?
You launch right below Hoover Dam and take out at a beach 12 miles downriver. You need a permit though to launch there. If you wanted to start at the bottom you’d be trying to paddle up a decent current. I’ve never tried, but I think it would be pretty hard.
If kayaks are rented and we are dropped off is Emerald cove hard to find? I’d prefer to not go in a tour?
The river miles are marked on signs on the side of the river, so it’s very easy to find…but I’d recommend bringing a map.
I live in LA and kayak around her a lot. I had no idea Vegas had this to offer! I usually just come back with a bad hang-over! LOL. Thanks so much for sharing this post. I’m definitely bringing my kayak with me on my next trip to Vegas. Cheers!
Awesome. You should definitely do this then. It’s a super weekend trip.
Sound like a plan! Thanks again for the post
Where can we get more information about camping?
Where did you find the price of $60 for a kayak? On the website you tagged, the price says $179. Thank you in advance!
They may have changed their prices? Probably best to call and ask.
Planning a day trip for this weekend. Can’t decide between kayak or SUP. The weather is supposed to be perfect on Saturday, 79 and sunny, but I am thinking with the water temp being so cold, kayak may be a better bet. Thoughts? Also, is there a time of year when headwinds and chop are less prevalent? Thanks!
Not sure about the winds and the time of year. I would go in a kayak. The only time I’d do it again on a SUP would be in the heat of summer.Have fun!
Where do you go to get a permit if you aren’t renting a kayak?
If you want to launch at Hoover Dam, you’ll need to be dropped off by one of the approved vendors, as normal cars aren’t allowed down there. The vendor will issue the permit and you can get a list here: https://www.nps.gov/lake/planyourvisit/black-canyon-water-trail.htm
Do you have any info on dogs? Are they allowed down the river or at the campsites?? Thanks!!
I did a search and couldn’t find anything that said they aren’t allowed.
Are dogs allowed?
James, they actually are! Does your dog enjoy kayaking?
hey kristen!! Divya here. loved your post and i would love to talk to you about this kayak experience of yours.We are 4 people and we are interested in doing this so can you tell me little more about where do you got your kayak or canoe rental from?
Totally just booked this awesome adventure! As an update- permits are now $22. Question- where can you park for this excursion?? The company said we meet at a hotel- does anyone know if you are able to park overnight at said hotel?
Great article, thanks for all the advice! I’m heading down to Vegas from Canada in January (for CES) and coming a few days early to paddle this. Are the temperatures and permits and rentals all still a go for that time of year? Hoping to make it a two day and camp assuming that’s still a go also.
Hey Josh, yes, kayaking The Vegas Black Canyon is year-round!
Are the hot springs still.. uh .. Hot in January?? For the River do you need a wetsuit for this time of year?
Hi Sean, the hot springs are warm year-round. It is personal preference on wearing a wetsuit and would depend greatly on if you plan to get in the river.
Thank you Kirsten for your wonderful and so helpful blog about kayaking in the black canyon. Recently bought an orukayak and was wondering if worthy taking it with me to Vegas. There for a conference in April but wanted to do some kayaking beforehand. Would love to go for a few days, do you think it’s better to just rent a canoe from the place. Will be me and a girlfriend. Thank you so much, for being brave, being inspiring, fun adventurous and so super cool. Love the camper too, what an amazing idea. Lots of love Frankie xxx
Hi Frankie, that is awesome to hear you bought an Orukayak! Kristen has one as well and loves it. That is the great thing about an OruKayak, you can take it anywhere. I’d take it with you–maybe it will force you to commit to kayaking beforehand since you’d be hauling it all the way there. The rentals are great as well and easy but nothing is better than using your own Orukayak in a new destination.
Great info on the Black Canyon for a kayak. I didn’t know it was there- or possible – or anything! Thanks. I’ll be following you’re blog.
This is amazing! I am traveling out here very soon and was wondering what it’s like for an overnight stay? Can I rent everything I need as I am coming from Michigan for only a weekend.. Thanks so much!
Kayaking and going to Hot Springs sounds absolutely amazing. Are the Hot Springs close to the river or is there a lot of hiking that takes up more time? I also need to know how to make these kayaking arrangements for April. I didn’t find and phone numbers to call.
Thanks so much and I hope you can help me out.
This is great!! Can I bring my dog?! Thanks
Is it wise to launch a kayak from the dam to visit the hot springs and paddle back up in one day? Seems like most people go upriver from Willow Beach, but the trip looks much shorter coming down from the dam on a map at least.
Hi! Would you recommend a hammock for over night camping or a tent? We are going with a pretty big group and I’m worried we won’t find many places to hang hammocks!
I wouldn’t recommend hammocks for this area. It’s the desert, so there aren’t a ton of trees. If you have a big group, I’d suggest tents or you can sleep out under the stars on a sleeping pad.
Thank you so much for inspiring me to take this trip. This past July I did my first Solo adventure and your recommendations were spot on. I flew into Vegas and started with a two day kayak / camping trip mentioned above in Black Canyon. I used Desert Adventures and they were awesome. I was the only one doing self guided and I cannot express how fantastic this portion of the trip was. I camped at Arizona Springs and hiked a bunch of the side canyons and hot springs. It was 107 degrees, but the water was 55, so it was actually great for swimming and being so low to the water, I never felt overheated. I have many great pictures and videos and more importantly, going solo really gave me the time to think about my life and what is next for me.
I then drove to Zion National Park and camped there for 3 days. I hiked 2 bucket list hikes (The Narrows, and Angel’s Landing), which again I used your recommendations and it was a perfect week and I met some great people during my adventure.
I highly recommend these adventures to anyone else considering doing a solo trip. Just do it.It is months later and I am still riding this outdoor high. Thanks again for all the info and keep up the great work.
Wow, Pete! Thanks so much for sharing your story with us. That does sound like an incredible trip.
Thanks for the great article! You’ve done a great job and included everything here. I hope to add this to our Grand Canyon trip.
I would like to explore the Black Canyon! Is it possible to bring my dog, she is a working dog & goes everywhere with me. Thanks!
Lorien – it looks like pets are allowed in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, but I would double-check their website just to be sure!
Looking to do a trip in S. NV or nearby with 10 friends involving kayaking, hiking, camping. Did the Black Canyon last year, so looking for something similar, but different:) We have all our own gear/equip. Any suggestions?