Epic 4 Day StandUp Paddle Board Trip on the Colorado River from Willow Beach to Hoover Dam and back.
Updated: Nov 28, 2022
Well, this blog only has a partly relationship to triathlon, but how better can you celebrate your IRONMAN Arizona finish as with an epic trip. And I just thought that this trip is absolutely worth to share with a blog.
We drove from Tempe, AZ to Willow Beach on Monday after the IRONMAN Arizona. It is roughly about a 4.5 - 5 hour drive with pulling our camper. We arrived at Willow Beach shortly after 6 pm. We prepared dinner and went to bed early after a walk with Timber, our 8 year old Husky. On the next morning, after sleeping in a little, we started to pack for the trip. We have never done a multi-day trip with our SUPs and it was a little challenging to prepare for colder nights and warm days with limited space.
We towed a little inflatable boat behind my SUP to have more room for storage for water and firewood. My wife had Timber on her SUP. We paddled a total of 24.8 miles (almost 40km). Day 1:
We started the trip at 1 pm. It was a beautiful day without wind and the Colorado River surprised us with very calm conditions. After trying to figure out what the best way is to tow our little boat behind my SUP, we found out after trying several options, it is best to have it right at the end of the SUP. We did 4.91 miles upstream on the first day and had to stop after they opened the dam at about 4pm and the current got to strong. They open the Hoover Dam every day in the afternoon to provide more power to Las Vegas.
We set up our tent, started a campfire and had dinner. Already overwhelmed from all the epic impressions and a little tired from paddling we went to bed.
Our goal for this day was to paddle till Boy Scout Canyon Hot Springs and a stop at the Arizona Hot Springs, on the way up, together about 8 miles upstream. After cooking coffee ( for those who don’t know me, I can’t survive without coffee ) and having a good breakfast, we packed everything up and loaded the SUPs. We took off at about 11 am. It was another great day, but it was a little overcasted and the wind picked up a little. Unfortunately, it was headwind and we now had to fight against the current and the headwind. Which turned out was a major workout for shoulders and arms. The short stop at the Arizona Hot Springs was well earned and relaxing. It is a short (approximately half mile) hike from the river to the hot springs.
Little relaxed we took off for the final stretch of the day.
We had about a half mile left to reach Boy Scout Canyon Hot Springs when we recognized the current is getting stronger from releasing water at the dam. We had to give everything to move forward and the last 20-30 yards were insane. It was literally 4 full power paddle strokes to move 10 inches forward. Exhausted but happy, we arrived at our camp site for the second night after a tota of 7.39 miles paddled. We started setting up our tent when we realized that the water level started to raise quickly. We decided to move our campsite a little further up the canyon. Which was a wise decision, as the water level raised by 5 ft within 45 minutes. After we had set up our camp for the night we hiked up the canyon to the hot springs. It is about a half mile to the hot springs with some smaller climbs but absolutely worth it. Especially, if you have the hot springs all by yourself!
Goal was to paddle till the Hoover Dam and back to the Palm Tree Hot Springs, approximately a little over 2 miles. It was a very windy day and the current was getting stronger as closer you get to the dam. It was very hard to fight against the heavy headwinds and the stronger current. It also looked like that Las Vegas needed more power on Thanksgiving, cooking all the turkeys, and they released more water. We stopped at the Palm Tree Hot Springs and wanted to set up our camp for the night, before we start the last stretch to the Hoover Dam and back. Unfortunately, there was no safe spot to set up our tent, after seeing how high and quick the water level raises when they open the dam. After soaking a little in the hot springs we made the decision to paddle back to the Arizona Hot Springs and set up our camp there. We skipped the final stretch to the Hoover Dam with already having in mind to repeat the trip again in April of 2023. We arrived at the Arizona Hot Springs at about 4:30 pm, set up our camp for the night and hiked up to the hot springs. Which we did after dinner again and in the morning before breakfast.
Time to heat back to Willow Beach, about 8 miles but all downstream!
After getting up, we hiked up to the hot springs an soaked for 45 minutes in the hot springs. The Arizona Hot Springs are very beautiful. It was very nice, because we had the pools all by ourselves for the first 25 minutes. There are 4 different pools starting with warm water till very hot at the last pool and the water is crystal clear. It's also funny, because a hiking trail goes right through the hot springs and it was fun to watch hikers walking trough the pools. Coming back from the hot springs we made breakfast, packed everything and loaded our SUPs for the way back. Half way back, we stopped at a beach area for lunch and to let Timber run around a little bit.
Timber did very well during the entire trip. She is used to be on a paddle board, but never for such a long trip. Sometimes when she was bored on the paddle board she started howling for an hour..... and when we soaked too long in the hot springs in her opinion. We arrived at Willow Beach at around 4 pm and we decided to stay a night “glamping“ with full hookup at the campsite at Willow Beach and we we’re looking forward to a nice long shower. Here is a link to the campground. https://willowbeachharbor.com/willow-beach-campground-and-rv-park It is a very clean and nice campground and the hosts Shelley and Ray are very friendly, but it is a little pricy.
Overall it was really an epic trip and we enjoyed every moment of it, even without making it all the way to the Hoover Dam. But we already decided to come back next year in April and do the trip again.