Black Canyon and Lake Mohave

-- Last Updated: Sep-26-07 2:43 PM EST --

Having decided to put off Flaming Gorge until next summer because of worsening weather, I am now considering a trip to Black Canyon (below Hoover Dam) and Lake Mohave either mid-November or early December.

Having researched as much as possible, it seems far better to launch from Willow Beach and paddle north up the river, camping a couple of nights some 5-8 miles from the launch site, rather than deal with mandatory livery shuttles and permits in order to put in at the foot of the dam.

Also wanting to include some of the areas south toward Lake Mohave as well. My thought is to leave my car at Willow Beach, and set up a basecamp some 10 miles south of there, after the Black Canyon part of the trip.

Any information, suggestions, etc. are greatly appreciated.


Black Canyon
Hi Merlin,

I’ve done the Black Canyon portion of the trip a few times – and it is a beautiful paddle. In fact, I have a group of friends that are going again Thanksgiving weekend.

You can easily paddle up to Arizona Hot Springs – about 7 miles north of Willow Beach.

We typically paddle it in just a few hours and base camp from there for a couple of nights. AZ Hot Springs is the most popular campsite, since there are porta-potty/pit toilets there. There are some easily accessible trails so you can get a great vantage point on the canyon, and the hot springs are right there too.

The water levels on the river fluctuate pretty dramatically – especially so at night. When you pull in at AZ Hot Springs – you need to carry your boat pretty far up on the beach, and definitely tie it up securely to a tree branch at night. (We watched a crew of boy scouts’ pfds and paddles start to float away one night, and they had carried their canoes up a good 30 to 40 feet inland before leaving them.)

If you want to have the place to yourself, I’d paddle it on a weekday – your chances will be greater. If you are there on the weekend, and want some solitude, there is another campsite that is about 500 yards north of AZ Hot springs. That’s used as a secondary place for some of the guided overnight trips that happen occasionally. I haven’t camped there, but I’ve heard it’s quite nice.

Let me know if you have any other questions.