Canoeing the Colorado River, Black Canyon Hot Springs Exploration
Canoeing the Colorado River, Black Canyon Hot Springs Exploration
Canoeing the Colorado River, Black Canyon Hot Springs Exploration

Canoeing the Colorado River, Black Canyon Hot Springs Exploration

Canoeing the Colorado River, Black Canyon Hot Springs Exploration

Your canoe will be your vehicle, your playground and your suitcase all rolled into one. The Colorado River is your path. We will begin our trip 10 miles below Hoover Dam and paddle upstream between towering cliffs and looming canyon walls exploring side canyons and natural hot springs over our four day weekend. At times, this trip can be a strenuous paddle for you and your canoe partner. However, soaking in natural hot springs and the infamous sauna cave, sleeping under the desert stars, and spying big horn sheep are the rewards! Again, this trip is a VERY physically demanding upriver paddle - but the rewards for your hard work are plentiful!

“I grew so much from this trip. I challenged myself and from it I’ve grown physically, mentally, and spiritually. I’ve become so close to some of the participants and this trip was so much more than I expected”

“This trip was everything I wanted and more! I was looking to get an experience and I can’t put into words how much fun, adventures, memories and amazing stories I will take with me.”

“This was one of the most fulfilling outdoor experiences I have ever participated in.  From start to finish.  I fully enjoyed meeting all the leaders and members of the group.  I will remember this trip forever in my heart.”


Canoeing the Colorado River, Black Canyon Hot Springs Exploration

Pre-Trip Meeting

Pre-Trip Meetings are required and are held the Monday, the week of your trip, from 6-7:30pm in the AMC rooms, right outside the ARC. You will meet the leaders and other trip members, as well as cover all details such as weather, menu, safety issues, and clothing requirements. You will also be issued all of your equipment at this time (sleeping bags, pad, tent, etc.).

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Day 1: This trip departs at 1pm on Thursday and arrives at Willow Beach Campground on the Colorado River at 10:00p.m.  We will make several stops along the way for dinner, gas and restrooms.  Upon your arrival to the campsite, you will be laying out your sleeping bag and pad for a night under the stars (or in a tent—your choice).

Day 2: Friday morning breakfast will be enjoyed overlooking the river and then we will quickly pack up our sleeping gear to launch at Willow Beach.  Your trip leaders will take you through a tutorial of everything dealing with canoeing. Proper paddling strokes and on water safety will be the primary focus.  Once canoes are loaded, the seven mile paddle up river toward our Arizona Hot Springs campsite begins.  We will enjoy the many scenic views and a lunch stop along the way.  Once at camp we will unload all gear, secure the canoes and prepare dinner together.   Afterwards we will hike 10 minutes up to the hot springs to soak, relax and reflect on the day.

Day 3: After a hearty breakfast Saturday morning, we will secure camp and continue paddling upriver three more miles to enjoy several hot springs and the infamous sauna cave. If the current cooperates, a stop below the Hoover Dam for photos is in order.  Lunch is usually enjoyed at Gold Strike Canyon where some of the hottest springs are found and a special “spa treatment” occurs.  We will be returning to our campsite at Arizona Hot Springs for another delicious dinner, campfire games and more hot springs. 

Day 4: Waking to the sound of the desert quail and the smell of coffee early on Sunday morning, we will take down camp, pack canoes and paddle down river six miles to Willow Beach. Gear is unloaded and the canoes are rinsed out and then the journey home begins.  We will stop for lunch in Boulder City and return to SDSU around 8:30p.m.

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Canoeing the Colorado River, Black Canyon Hot Springs Exploration

Packing List

We are limited on space, and the less stuff you bring, the less you have to carry around. Ask yourself…What would I want in the coldest weather or the hottest weather? Pack to be prepared for both!

Things that should be packed inside your personal day pack and kept with you inside the van:

  • Small day pack
  • Money for road meals
  • A warm layer
  • Headlamp
  • Travel size pillow
  • Water
  • Snack food
  • Camera


  • Sunglasses w/retainer strap
  • Personal stuff- extra contact lenses, chap-stick, sunscreen, baby wipes, baby powder, ear plugs, hand lotion, medications you usually take…
  • 2 durable crush proof one liter water bottles or a hydration pack
  • Toilet paper in a Ziploc bag
  • Small, lightweight fast drying camp towel


  • Wide brimmed shade hat
  • Beanie/ stocking cap
  • Bandana
  • Cotton or synthetic blend hiking shirt (breathable layer)
  • Cotton or synthetic camp shirt (a clean shirt to wear at camp)
  • Synthetic Long Sleeve Top(s) – Polypro, Capilene, or polyester.
  • Fleece jacket or sweatshirt
  • Sports bra
  • Windbreaker
  • Rash guard
  • Nylon shorts
  • Bathing Suit
  • Light weight long pants/ cotton or synthetic hiking pants
  • Rain Pants (Aztec Adventures can provide this if you don’t have your own!)
  • Sweatpants
  • Underwear
  • Synthetic long underwear (top & bottom)
  • Gloves
FEET: No Flip Flops!!!!
  • Tennis or Hiking shoes with good ankle support
  • Socks
  • Water Shoes:  Sport Sandals with secure ankle straps or old pair of tennis shoes.   

Personal Equipment Provided by Aztec Adventures:

  • 0 or 20˚ sleeping bag and Thermarest sleeping pad
  • Ground Tarp
  • Tent with rain fly (sleeps 2-3)
  • Head lamp
  • Camp chair
  • Rain gear (if you don’t have your own)
  • Coffee mug, bowl, and utensils
  • Waterproof Pack Bag: to hold all of the above items PLUS your personal gear and clothes
  • Wetsuit & Spray Jacket

Group Equipment that Aztec Adventures will provide:

  • Expedition First Aid Kit Ground Tarp
  • Stoves, fuel and all cooking gear-pots, pans, utensils, spice kit etc.
  • Repair kit for tents, stoves, packs, etc.
  • Water bags -2+ gallon bags for camp use
  • Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and desserts
  • Satellite Phone

Climbing equipment: including climbing shoes

Canoeing the Colorado River, Black Canyon Hot Springs Exploration

Physical Challenge

Paddling up river can be very strenuous for some because it requires the use of the entire upper body—not just one’s arms. All trip members must be confident in their swimming ability, as there is always the possibility of a capsize. In addition, trip members will be carrying canoes and other gear up and down the river bank and launch ramp. From now until the trip begins, we highly encourage you to get in shape.

TRIP RATING  2.5 out of 3– Black Canyon Canoeing should expect upwards of 7 miles paddling a day, for 7 hours, over flat water with steady winds and strong current. Pace of travel is moderate to vigorous depending on the water’s current and wind conditions. An individual in good to strong physical condition is required as the activity requires a focus on core and upper body strength, not necessarily your arms.

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Canoeing the Colorado River, Black Canyon Hot Springs Exploration

Risks/ Hazards/ Safety

River temperature is 53° F year round. Extended time in the water due to a capsized canoe can lead to hypothermia (lowering of body’s core temperature). Other hazards are heat illnesses, dehydration, motorboats, high winds, desert plants and animals (rattlesnakes and scorpions are often observed on trips), and other campers and canoers (campsites are sometimes crowded on weekends). Hiking to hot springs can be treacherous and slippery and thick soled shoes are required at ALL times, even while inside the canoe. Hot springs may contain amoeba that can be deadly if allowed to enter your nasal cavity. Trip members must make a conscious effort to be safe. This includes, but is not limited to avoid swimming in the strong current of the river, avoid wandering off by oneself, wear your PFD zipped at all times while in the canoe and absolutely NO cliff/rock jumping.  One person’s disdain for safety will always result in more hardship for the group. If we do have an accident or injury that requires medical attention beyond the scope of our leader’s experience, the trip is immediately over without refund. Our leaders are trained to administer first aid in an outdoor environment; however, while they may be able to treat injuries, they cannot always prevent them.

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Canoeing the Colorado River, Black Canyon Hot Springs Exploration

Hygiene & Comfort

No showers will be available.  Toilet facilities with running water are available on Thursday night and Friday morning at the campsite at Willow Beach. Our river campsite will consist of a pit toilet. Aztec Adventures will provide drinking water, tents, warm synthetic sleeping bags, foam pad, and a ground tarp.  Our first night of camping will be at Willow Beach Campground on hard packed dirt in designated camp areas. The following two nights on the river will provide us with the opportunity to sleep on loose gravel between canyon walls.  Aztec Adventures will provide hand a wash station with soap and water while camping out to practice for good hygiene.

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