Explore the Colorado River’s deep Black Canyon, which begins just below Hoover Dam outside of Las Vegas, by raft, kayak, canoe, or helicopter tours. The narrow, near-vertical volcanic rock walls contain hidden beaches, caves, hot springs, slot canyon hiking trails, wildlife viewing, and wilderness solitude.
The canyon stretches from the base of Hoover Dam to Willow Beach, Ariz. You can explore the popular 30-mile (48-kilometer) flatwater section of the Colorado River on guided rafting, canoeing, and kayaking trips. Join a tour that departs Las Vegas by van, bus, or helicopter and then descend to the river to begin your adventure. Tours often include a visit to Hoover Dam, Gold Strike Canyon, Arizona Hot Spring, and Emerald Cave.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Black Canyon is a popular day trip for nature lovers, hot spring enthusiasts, and those interested in Hoover Dam.
- This stretch of river does not contain rapids but is swift and cold.
- A permit is required to launch at Hoover Dam so this starting point is only available with select tour companies.
- Access to the canyon is from Willow Beach, a full-service marina with public access, watercraft rentals, and a restaurant.
How to Get There
Public access to Black Canyon is provided at Willow Beach, about 52 miles (84 kilometers) or about an hour's drive southeast of Las Vegas. To venture into the canyon, join a guided tour (many offer pickup and drop-off at Las Vegas hotels) or rent boats at Willow Beach Marina.
When to Get There
Tours of Black Canyon are offered year-round. The desert heat deters some from visiting in summer, although being close to the cool Colorado River offers some respite. Visiting in winter is ideal for those hoping to soak in the hot springs along the way.
What to See When You Visit the Black Canyon
Select tours begin at Hoover Dam for a view of the iconic feat of engineering. Before beginning the journey down the river you can visit Sauna Cave, which was drilled during dam construction. From there you can dip into the warm springs of Gold Strike Canyon and Arizona Hot Springs, both of which flow from slot canyons into the Colorado River. Finish off your tour with a stop at Emerald Cave.