Week of December 8-14, 1995
Kayaking options near Las Vegas, NV
Question: I'm looking for areas for beginning to intermediate kayaking with possible campsites and mountain biking around Las Vegas, NV. Thanks for your help.
Pacific Grove, CA
Adventure Adviser: If you're looking to take a break from the slot machines to bone up on your river skills, we recommend heading 30 miles east of Las Vegas to Lake Mead National Recreation Area, home to the largest man-made lake in the West. Despite this rather dubious honor, the 1.5 million-acre recreation area--including Lake Mead, Lake Mojave, and the surrounding desert from Davis Dam in the south to the Grand Canyon in the east--has plenty to offer in the way of water-related sports.
Black Canyon, the stretch of Colorado River just below Hoover Dam, is the best bet for full-day and multiday kayaking trips in the area; with its low-key, dam-induced flatwater--blink, and you'll probably miss the only ripple on this stretch of river--Black Canyon is ideal for beginning paddlers.
Your first stop should be Down River Outfitters, just off Route 93 in Boulder City. They rent open-deck, single kayaks for $35 per day for a one-day trip and $10 per person each additional day. Included in the price is shuttle service to the put-in point behind Hoover Dam. From there, try a leisurely 11-mile, one-day trip down to Willow Beach on the Arizona side of Lake Mojave or, if you're feeling more ambitious, opt for a two-day, 22-mile trip downstream to Eldorado Canyon or a 40-mile paddle to Cottonwood Cove. As for gear storage on the longer trips, the open-deck kayaks have front and back closed compartments for your tent, food, and related equipment. You can camp at night anywhere along the river, no permit necessary. Just bear in mind that the steep walls of Black Canyon make finding tent-friendly sites a pretty difficult task for at least the first 11 miles. If you plan on going before January 1, you'll need to call ahead to the Bureau of Reclamation for a launch permit ($5 per kayak; 702-293-8204); beginning on January 1, you'll be able to get your permit directly through Down River Outfitters.
One final word: If you take out at Cottonwood or Eldorado, you'll have to cough up an additional $75 "destination fee" for shuttle pickup and transfer back to Boulder City, some 50 highway miles north. For more information, contact Down River Outfitters at 702-293-1190 or the Lake Mead National Recreation Area headquarters at 702-293-8947.