I have thought about paddling in the winter down in the desert country for a long time. My brother has been in South America for many months and is coming home in awhile. Has anyone paddled from Blythe to Yuma? Is it difficult to avoid the powerboats? I am always leery about trips around people from california. Thanks.
It’s 76 miles from Blythe to Imperial dam & approx 18 more to Yuma. I’ve paddled the 1st 35 miles to Walters camp 2x & would only go again if desparate to wet my paddle in otherwise very dry country. The CA side is continuous farmland. AZ side is wilder but the river is channelized & banks are continuous rip-rap. Haven’t paddled miles #36-62 by Picacho Rec area on Ca side but hear it’s more scenic than upriver. Next section down to Imperial dam @ mile #76 is scenic. River is much reduced below Imp dam w/ lots of development as you approach Yuma.
Big powerboats aren’t an issue. Some small fishing boats above Imp dam
For a much more scenic section of Colorado flatwater consider Black canyon/L Mohave from Hoover dam down to Laughlin/Bullhead City or Topock gorge above L Havasu
Thanks for the input. Any idea about the distance from Black Canyon to Laughlin? Is there some sort of permit for the put-in? Or did I hear that it is open only certain days of the week?
Colorado River 2013
I just teturned from 2 weeks in the desert and a week on the Colorado R. The weather was cooler than usual with hard frost and wind.
The last night in camp a Navy Blue Angel jet passed over camp and we waved, and he waved his wings. The full moon rose over the river at sunset. We were serenaded by wild donkeys, the coyote choir and 2 great horned owls. A river otter swam past camp. We told the stories of the day around a warm campfire. Desert bighorn sheep, bald eagles, osprey, Sandhill cranes, and Mexican hawks. And jets, lots of really fast military jets.
A lot of access on and off the river has been lost. The vegetation has become overgrown on the lower river. But all in all it was a transformative trip for several crew members, and we are already planning our next trip.
what part of the river did you do this time?
Blythe to near Yuma. The lower section was the best below Walter’s Camp. There is no riprap and very natural vegetation. More wildlife as a result.
I have done the Black’s Canyon down to Lake Havasu City twice and Hoover down to Bullhead once as well, three total trips. I may be doing it again 2 or 3 weeks from now.
Getting to the base of the Hoover is by outfitter and permit, only so many per day. Launch at Willow Beach, no problem. If you want to see the base of Hoover, paddling the 11 miles upstream is not difficult. Couple of good campsites along the way, mostly at the popular hot springs.
I DO fully recommend the full Hoover base to Katherine’s Landing. frequent and excellent beaches to camp on once south of the first 10 miles of Canyon from Willow Beach Idyllic, few boats this time of year, mostly fishermen in flat bass boats.
The only two cautions. One, most important, the wind on Lake Mohave can be VERY dangerous. Travel mornings, or whatever beach you are on, STAY THERE. I have done Lake Mohave in 3 days, and done it in 10 days Entirely wind dependent. So set a schedule, but give lots of cushion because you are likely to be wind bound for a day or two, take the extra food, books to read, expect it and enjoy the time.
The second subject, take trash bags. Collect whatever you can and have room for in your boat. The shoreline of Lake Mohave is the disgrace of the Colorado River. Some is a given, power boaters at 30 to one million miles per hour in the summer, the bottles of water, soda and beer get blown over the side. Paddlers can really help. We are slow and at the water’s surface, easy for us to collect a few. The other portion is California visitors? I have seen whole scrap and junk piles left behind by, intentionally left, by pigs. That is the politest descriptive word I will use here. Fill a bag or two and help out.
Once below Davis Dam, the Colorado is a treat, plenty of house as you pass Bullhead, good current, Take a day off, make a reservation in advance at the Avi Casino, room , shower, food, an evening off the river. As you pass Needles, the current is a right bastard, you may not be able to safely dock at the restaurant dock and have a lunch, did it once, had to bypass it another time. If you get swept under the dock, you’ll be fighting for your life. As the current gentles a bit on the south of Needles, state park?
At Topock Camp at or above Pirates, do not bother going in, they treat paddlers like dirt, But, across the river and down a half mile Topock Marina? Good food, friendly people, absolute treat. Below the bridges, you are headed into Topock Canyon, wonderful, and 15 or 20 miles on Lake Havasu City, Lake Havasu State Park. Again, excellent people, campsites, boat launches, and not too distant, Peggy’s Sunrise Cafe mornings.
Willow Beach to Katherine’s Landing, oh, yes, especially March and April, Do it.
Thanks Paddler. I have thought about putting in at Willow Beach. I would like to paddle Black Canyon and then Topock Gorge.