Las Vegas is synonymous with hotels, casinos, and gambling scenes. But what if I tell you that the sin city hides away a treasure of waterways?
Surprisingly, not all the fun of Las Vegas is in its casinos. It also offers a lot of water activities, including kayaking and paddleboarding, for those more interested in the outdoors than the bright lights of the Strip.
With the colossal Colorado River flowing just a short drive east and the glorious Lake Mead, there is no need to go anywhere else. Save yourself from the lure of the slot machines and go kayak in Las Vegas instead for a very unique and pleasurable Las Vegas experience.
Las Vegas has some great kayaking spots to offer. From the more commercial Lake Las Vegas on the outskirts of the city to Lake Mead and the Colorado River’s Black Canyon a short 45 minutes drive away. There are some good kayaking options no matter what your level of experience.
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If you intend to kayak in Las Vegas, Black Canyon should be on your list of must dos. The mighty Colorado River flows towards the Gulf of California from the Hoover Dam, into the Black Canyon Water Trail.
This 12 mile section of the Colorado River from the base of the impressive Hoover Dam to Willow Beach is jam packed with enticing desert scenery, narrow canyons, caves and some pretty decent hot springs.
This area is a top spot for kayaking and a favorite amongst tourists and locals alike. The water in Black Canyon is completely flat with no rapids yet can move quite quickly in the warmer months when more water is being let through the dam. First time kayaker and canoeists, unless on a guided tour, are better to do this trip during the slower water months as the stops can sometimes be difficult to manoeuvre.
It’s possible to paddle from Hoover Dam all the way to Willow Creek in a single day but if you intend to do this trip capturing maximum experience and scenery, we recommend three days and two nights. KayakLasVegas have a three day tour for $649 plus $32 for permits that runs daily all year round. Alternatively you could kayak Black Canyon and opt to see only a few of the sights on one of the many 3 to 8 hour tours available.
Construction completed in 1935 on the Hoover Dam and is today a great spot if you a seeking to kayaking in Las Vegas. Kayaking at the Hoover Dam is an experience like no other. See this man-made marvel up close and personal by kayaking in its waters below.
You will also get to see the famous Hoover Dam bypass. Paddling a bit further south will take you to Sauna Cave, a hidden cave near a geothermal hot spring. This cave resembles a natural steam room. Further south again and you will find the gentle cascading waterfall at Palm Tree Hot Springs.
A guided kayak tour at Hoover Dam costs around $195 per person. If you want to forego the guided tour and make use of a kayak rental near Hoover Dam, you can do so from KayakLasVegas for $80 per day. (plus $32 for a permit)
A small cave in the Black Canyon area, about 2.5 miles north of Willow Beach is the Emerald Cave. Precious like its name, Emerald Cave sometime referred to as Emerald Cove is a beautiful spot with its beautiful green emerald waters.
Its picturesque scenery and green waters manage to attract admirers to kayak Emerald Cove from all around the globe.
If you are lucky, you might just catch the rays of the sun hitting the water just right, making it appear to be shining like an emerald. Best time of year to visit for maximum green is April to October. Aim to get there around midday and on a bright sunny day for maximum effect.
Evolution Expeditions have 3 hour express guided kayak tours for Emerald Cove launching from Willow Beach Marina for $99 or $139 for 4 hours including lunch.
The round trip is around 4 miles. Along the way, there are stops and breaks to admire the views, take in wildlife sightings or go for a dip in the waters. There are many hidden spots to explore such as Gauger’s Homesite and the Fish Hatchery. The beautiful colors of the waters will make the perfect backdrop for your pictures. You should also remember to keep your eye out for some wildlife that thrives in the area, such as falcons and bighorn sheep.
You can find Emerald Cave kayak rentals available at Willow Beach from KayakLasVegas . A single sit in kayak will cost $60 or $90 for a double for an all day hire between 10.30am and 3pm all year round.
Lying at the northern end of Black Canyon you’ll find a number of hot springs to explore including Sauna Cave, Nevada Hot Springs, Palm Tree Hot Springs and Boy Scout Canyon Hot Springs. Located 5.5 mile north of Emerald Cave lies Arizona Hot Springs. Out of the 5 or so Hot Springs at the Hoover Dam end of the Canyon, Arizona Hot Springs are located in the most dramatic slot canyon with walls in parts as narrow as 6 feet apart. National Park Service have installed a 20-foot ladder at this location to make the best springs in the area reachable.
Lake Mead is a large reservoir formed by the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River. The clear turquoise water paired with the dusty desert mountains gives beautiful scenic views. Moreover, Lake Mead in Las Vegas is just the spot for kayaking.
Since the waters are pretty calm, all people with all skill levels can kayak at Lake Mead without any fears. This place has a lot to do; kayak at Lake Mead or hop off onto the Boulder Islands for some hiking, swim in the waters, or simply enjoy a picnic at the shore.
When you are out in the water, make sure to soak in all the nature and the magnificent wildlife that resides in the area.
KayakLakeMead offer some spectacular full day tours from Lake Meads Temple Bar. The drive is a little further than Black Canyon, but the views, the solitude, the clean water and beaches make paddling Temple Bar a great choice. Explore, find a nice sandy beach or simply relax. A 4-6 hour tour will cost $240 per adult and $90 for children under 16.
Lake Las Vegas
Just 20 mile east of the Las Vegas Strip you will find Lake Las Vegas. This body of water is an artificial lake surrounded by a number of upscale resorts and hotels such as The Hilton, The Westin and the MonteLago Village Resort adjacent to the Lake Las Vegas Marina. The area is marked by condominiums, hotels, bistros, palm trees, and scenic lake views. It has a lot of water sports to offer and likewise, you can go kayaking and paddle boarding too.
The 320-acre lake is fun to navigate. Being a lake, it has flat water which means that any person of any skill level can easily go kayaking in Lake Las Vegas. It presents itself as a good option for beginners who have just started kayaking and cannot brave the choppy waters.
Similarly, it is safe to take along children for kayaking in the waters of Lake Las Vegas. But remember, individuals under 18 are not allowed alone in the water.
Lake Las Vegas Water Sports rents out kayaks and paddle boards for two hours along with life jackets, at the cost of $28 per hour.
Keep in mind here that all beaches and docks around the Lake Las Vegas are privately owned. Docking at or using any of these other private premises may incur a fine.
Essentials to Bring Along
If you intend to kayak in Las Vegas, there are certain kayaking accessories that you need to bring along to ensure a smooth and comfortable trip.
- Firstly, you will need to put on clothes you do not mind getting wet. If you plan on going for a swim in the waters, make sure to wear a bathing suit underneath.
- A dry bag, to keep all your stuff safe and secure from water.
- Your phone should have a water-proof case or protective packaging at the very least. (Tip: Ziploc bags make for great protective covers!)
- Despite all the water around, you will need to keep yourself hydrated. So carry multiple water flasks per person, because all the paddling, swimming, and hiking will likely make you thirsty.
- Similarly, keep some light snacks for the trip in case you need the energy fix.
- Lastly, you will be out in the open for the day, so you will need protection from the Sun.
- Carry sunblock with you, and remember, you need to reapply it every two hours.
- Carrying sunglasses, a hat, or a cap will give you added protection against the Sun.
- Most important of all, keep a travel-size first aid kit with you. You never know when you might nip your finger on a rock or twist your ankle, so it is best to be prepared.
Kayaking in Las Vegas: Sum Up
Las Vegas makes you think of a lot of things- casinos, parties, hotels. Water sports are the last thing anyone expects in this desert city. But Las Vegas surprises you with its stunning paddling opportunities. Though hard to find at first, once you do, it’s hard to let go of the paddle in Las Vegas.