Kayak tether for Black Canyon trip

What do you use as a kayak tether?

My wife and I will be taking a trip on the Colorado river below Hoover Dam launching May 2nd and taking out May 4th. We are going to retrace the trip HappyCamperToo posted on the Places2Paddle section in her destination trip report.

In doing research for this trip another person who posted a trip report said because the river level can fluctuate by 4 feet you need to tether your kayak. So I thought I would see what others do to secure their kayaks along rivers where levels can go up and down.


Your information is correct I both outfitt people for the BC and Guide them on it(spent 4 days there last week). A 15ft line is good. I use Lead rope material on my personal boats, it is friendly to the hands s…Keep in mind you may encounter high winds and increased water releases this time of year… Just something to be aware of… Enjoy your trip…kim

As important as a sturdy line is for attaching your kayak to a secure spot along the shore, placing your kayak well above the high water mark is equally important. An examination of the shoreline will easily reveal the previous evening’s water level. You’ll want to keep your craft high and dry because if it floats in the swift current, you run the risk of damage or even loss of your boat.

Normally, water is released from Hoover Dam toward the end of the day and well into the evening, so make sure you set your campsite and kayak high enough to ensure a safe and dry evening. It’s pretty amazing to see just how high the water comes up. To ensure peace of mind, I bring my boat up to my campsite when at Arizona Canyon and use it as a storage locker.

On another note . . . I assume you have the sauna cave and the thermal pools on your agenda. They are a must in Black Canyon!

Thanks for the response and help!
I really appreciate your willingness to share your knowledge with me!

How about rodents?
So I like the idea of bringing the boat up high next to where we will set up our tent for many reasons. I think where we plan to make camp (Arizona Hot Spings I think it is called just before mile marker 60)will have plenty of room. And yes good reminder to make sure the tent is high enough to allow for the water release. Is it safe to store food in the kayak at night? I know when backpacking sometime rodents will tear through the backpack if you leave food in it. Are there any animals / rodents that might try and gnaw through the hatch covers at night?

I don’t recall that critters were a problem in Black Canyon…but its always a good idea to secure your food. If your kayak has bulkheads and securable hatches, that makes a perfect food locker.

Regarding “plenty of room” at Arizona Canyon…I would suggest trying to arrive as early as you can. The better camp sites are up near the shoreline. If a scout troop or school group shows up, you don’t want to be setting up your tent back where they usually make camp. Trust me…been there, done that.

I did not see any critters when I was there, no problems at all ther than some very high winds and increased wter relases…I e-mail you offline and called…kim

Hi Kim
Laurie and I really appreciated your mail and phone calls. If the winds are not going to be favorable we will probably look for another venue to kayak. Same with water releases. But we would try again at the right times of the year!

We leave tomorrow morning for a few days at Campland in San Diego and paddling on Mission Bay. We will also research some alternate areas if Black Canyon is a no-go. Worst case we will head for Truckee where we have a place to stay and kayak Lake Tahoe. Maybe we can find a lake or two up 395 on the east side of the Sierras. ~ bill

PS - cockpit covers
As above, you should haul the boat up with you at night to be above the likely water level. But there are times… the necessary height may not be clear at a given campsite, and there’s the end of the day I’m beat it’s gotta be good enough factor. So maybe on a night or two the boats are a little lower down than ideal.

So I’d suggest that you also make sure the cockpit covers are on the boats at the end of the day, as well as using painters for just in case anywhere that you are unsure of the maximum water rise. Not only will it keep out creepy crawlies, if case the boat does end up floating it’ll keep it from getting pulled off what the painter can hold by the weight of water in the cockpit. We’ve been known to tie off our kayaks via painters to trees that were probably several feet above the high tide when camping on an island in Maine where the boats weren’t in direct sight of the campsite. It probably looks silly as heck, but we sleep OK.