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Kayaking in the Black Canyon with Blazin’ Paddles

If you have read some of my other blog posts, you know that I’m an adventure traveller and love to get outside while on the road! During a recent trip to Las Vegas with my Dad, I was super excited to escape the city and try the half day guided tour of the Black Canyon with Blazin’ Paddles!

Just a short drive from the Vegas Strip across the Nevada border, the Black Canyon is just one outdoor beauty Arizona boasts. As the temperatures in Las Vegas began to heat up during my visit, an activity on the water seemed like the perfect option to cool off while escaping the chaotic city. As you drive across the border into Arizona, you can see the landscape change before your eyes. Our guide Ryan told us about the wildlife native to the area, while we gazed in awe out the window at the humungous Hoover Dam.

Blazin’ Paddles offers both half and full day kayak tours on the Colorado River, which courses through the Black Canyon. The full day tour requires some foresight when booking because they will need to get you an access permit, while the half day tour can be booked more last minute. Our half day tour took us to Willow Beach, a marina within The Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

After a quick orientation to the equipment and techniques (mainly to avoid the “timid T-rex” arms), we were off! Within 5 minutes, a bald eagle was spotted soaring above us! Shortly after, I had made friends with a pair of ducks, who circled my kayak as I stopped for photos.

kayaking the black canyon on colorado river arizona

Our first break on the tour involved a short hike up a craggy rock path to a beautiful viewpoint of the river below. The breeze gently cooled us off, while the sun made the water glimmer and dance.

a short hike break from kayaking the black canyon, arizona

A second break on a beach area allows time for a swim or simply to relax in the warm sun with a snack. Towards the end of the tour, the group has the opportunity to paddle inside the beautiful ‘Emerald cave’ (so beautiful in fact, it was even featured by National Geographic). I was shocked that we all actually fit inside the relatively small cave!

After paddling 4 miles round trip, we were feeling both exhilarated and exhausted! I had a kayak “war-wound” (aka a small blister on my hand) and my clumsy pops was soaked from flopping into the water as he got out of his kayak — we figured we had earned a beer or two, which can be conveniently purchased right at Willow Beach. With the sun shining on us, we said ‘cheers’ to the beginning of our father/daughter trip and to a great day on the water.

Dad and daughter kayaking in arizona

What to Expect:

As you can see, I did not wear closed-toe water shoes so the hike up on rocky terrain was tricky, but manageable. Blazin’ Paddles allows you to wear flip-flops like I did, but it is at your own risk. If you would prefer water shoes but don’t have them, there is an opportunity to purchase them in the Blazin’ Paddles office in Henderson before heading to the launch site.

I would recommend wearing athletic clothing that you will be comfortable sitting in and moving around in, and don’t mind getting wet. For example, avoid denim and white clothing (I learned this first hand during my kayak tour of the lower salt river in Arizona).

Definitely wear your swim suit under your clothes incase you wish to cool off. You might want to consider packing a change of clothes for the drive home, a towel and a plastic bag for wet items.

kayaking the black canyon with Blazin Paddles

For Beginners: 

It was Dad’s first time ever in a kayak and he did great! I was so proud of him for getting out of his comfort zone and trying something new. These kayaks are equipped with foot pedals and a rear rudder to assist with steering, which takes some practice to coordinate with your paddle. Once he got the hang of it, he was faster than me and I could hardly keep up. If you have any concerns or feel apprehensive, know that there will be a guide at the front and back of the group to make sure no one gets left behind.

kayaking the black canyon on colorado river arizona

The key items to pack for your tour with Blazin’ Paddles, are sunscreen, a hat and water (though they do offer bottles of water). You will be in direct sun for a few hours so all of these items are essential to stay hydrated, cool and to prevent a sunburn. I ended up drinking 4L of water that day due to the sun and exertion!

If you have a water proof camera, definitely bring it — you will want to take photos of the beautiful surroundings. If you prefer to bring your phone on the kayak, you can purchase a waterproof case at the Blazin’ Paddles office for 5$ before departing for the river.

Bonus Tip:

Blazin’ Paddles is offering you a special discount so you can try kayaking for yourself! If you will be in the Vegas area this year, use the PROMO code ‘pinkbackpack‘ (offer good until November).

kayaking the black canyon on colorado river arizona

Overall, we had a great tour with Blazin’ Paddles and I would highly recommend them if you are in the area! You can connect with them on Facebook or Instagram.



Would you try kayaking the Black Canyon?!

Let me know in the comments below! 




kayaking the black canyon on colorado river arizona


This tour was sponsored.

Thank you to the Blazin’ Paddles team for hosting us on your superb tour!

As always, I only recommend experiences I’ve personally tried and approve of — thank you for your support.

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Janis said:
Great post! You always choose such amazing adventures! I'll definitely check it out if I get to Vegas again!
May 8, 2018 at 6:13 am
Bill Fink said:
Looks like a fun trip! Definitely want to try it on my next Vegas visit. Seems like a good way to cool off from the desert heat. Hope they offer beers after ?
May 7, 2018 at 11:40 pm
Eva said:
So guilty of displaying the T-rex arms!!! Haha I only kayaked once, and not even on a single one but with my boyfriend sitting behind me on a double one. I don't know how well I would perform on my own kayak. I would probably be lost at some point :D It was great, but I needed the confidence boost of having one person with me telling me how to do it all the time.
May 7, 2018 at 4:34 am