2016 Trip Four, Southwest Discoveries, June 5-6

Las Vegas, June 6, 2016

Hoover Dam as viewed from Black Canyon of the Colorado River

Hoover Dam as viewed from Black Canyon of the Colorado River

Last full day in Vegas and we celebrated it by taking a rafting trip down the Black Canyon of the Colorado River just below Hoover Dam.

A view of the boats loading up

A view of the boats loading up

The gathering spot is a RV park on Lake Mead where we meet at 9:15 AM, get organized, wait for late arrivals, take a shuttle through security gates, wind our way down a steep, narrow road, and finish up at the bottom of Hoover Dam-downstream side. There are three raft type boats, capable of holding about 40-50 people. We have maybe 35 on ours-after 4 people from Paris decided, 10 minutes into the trip, that they changed their minds and did not want to go on the raft trip. We were still in the general area of the take-off point discussing Hoover Dam so we brought them back to the dock and they were able to catch one of the shuttles which had not yet returned to the RV park. Never did get a reason from them and it did not appear to be a normal occurrence.

Looking south down the Black Canyon

Looking south down the Black Canyon

Anyway, back to the journey. Jeff from Wisconsin was our captain and tour guide. He emphasized the need to keep safe and cool. The temperature was over 100 again. Jeff and Chris and I were the only ones wearing long sleeved shirts and pants. Besides plenty of water and sun screen, Jeff passed out towels after soaking them in buckets of cool water. Just about everyone had one or two of them, usually around their neck.

Chris on the boat

Chris on the boat

Yes, Joyce, it is a dry heat but it is still hot. The towels dry out quickly but we re-wetted them in the bucket or just in the Colorado River water. The water below the dam comes through a pipe from the bottom of Lake Mead, up stream of the dam. Thus, sediment has settled out and the water temperature is around 50-55 degrees. Part of the time the boat is going fast enough to generate spray that lands on you and also helps to keep you cool. At faster speed also, the river water slops over the front of the boat and runs down the aisle by your feet so you can dunk your feet in the water and keep them cool.

Jeff told us some history on the construction of Hoover Dam and the geology of the canyon; pointed out rock formations that if you were imaginative looked like something other than just rocks; and steered the boat. He demonstrated the art of recovering hats that went over the side of the boat, helped by a little girl who lost her hat. We saw the small carts suspended above the river that two people had to use to transport themselves across the river to reach a gauge station that recorded water level and quality until finally technology made obsolete the daily one hour, one way trek along and across the river and canyons to work. That made rush hour seem easy.

One of the passengers checking out the hot springs along the Black Canyon

One of the passengers checking out the hot springs along the Black Canyon

We saw a mountain goat in a cave high on the cliff side. We passed hot springs. Water that seeps into the ground is heated and comes out various cracks at about 130 degrees. One such spring we stopped at and everyone got out and felt the water. Yup, it was hot. We passed two spots where rainfall, when it comes, generates tremendous, although short-lived, waterfalls. Lunch was eaten at a small cove, an insulated lunch cooler with sandwich, water, apple, cookie and snack are provided. We get to keep the cooler. Not sure we have space in our luggage for them though.

Black Canyon of the Colorado River

Black Canyon of the Colorado River

All in all, a very enjoyable day. We left our hotel at 8 AM and returned around 4 PM with a stop for a cold A & W in a frosted mug in Boulder City. Life is good. Tomorrow we will probably sleep late and arrive back in St. Paul in the evening.

Ed and Chris

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