Nevada is a large southwestern state known mainly for being home to one of America’s favorite playgrounds, Las Vegas. While Vegas is certainly a fun place to visit, the state of Nevada has so much more to offer that it’s a shame most people only associate it with Vegas. I’ve actually said to a friend before, “I’m going to Nevada for vacation” and they replied with “Cool, have fun in Vegas!”.
Personally, I love Nevada because of its beautiful landscape and remote nature. More than ¾ of the state’s population live in Clark County, the county that encompasses Las Vegas. What that means is that 95% of the land is occupied by 25% of the state’s people. For fans of wild and open wilderness, Nevada is calling!
For kayakers, Nevada offers several good options. It’s definitely far from the best kayaking state in the nation, but it’s certainly not the worst. I have found some really enjoyable areas to kayak for recreation purposes, both down whitewater rivers and in pristine lakes. Below you will find a list of my favorite places to paddle in Nevada.
The Colorado River is well known throughout much of the United States – indeed, it snakes through much of the US on its lazy path seaward. In Nevada, the best place I have found to enjoy the Colorado via kayak is in and around the Black Canyon. I love this area, but I would NOT recommend coming here in the summer, when temperatures are often over 100 degree Fahrenheit.
This beautiful volcanic rock canyon is located near Boulder City, NV. It’s fairly accessible, although the accommodation and facilities in the area are very primitive. What I enjoy about the Black Canyon stretch of the Colorado is that it’s peaceful, beautiful, and provides lots of opportunities to view wildlife. I’ve spotted coyotes, falcons, eagles, and more! There are also many hot springs nearby, which provide a welcome respite after a long day.
Lake Mead is a massive freshwater reservoir spanning parts of both Nevada and Arizona. At full capacity, it’s the largest reservoir in the United States. It is formed by the famous Hoover Dam and stretches for a whopping 112 miles, when full. Suffice it to say, it’s a really big lake. Encompassing and surrounding the lake itself is the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. This area provides a huge amount of opportunities for outdoor activities, as well as some stunningly beautiful views.
I love kayaking in Lake Mead because the water is crystal clear and incredibly clean. There are many launch points to start from, and honestly there is so much to see around here you really can’t go wrong. Please note that you CAN NOT launch from the Hoover Dam base any more due to tightened federal regulations. If you’re someone who just wants to see the highlights, or you’re on a limited schedule, I recommend going with a guided tour. There are lots of kayak tour companies nearby, and the prices are reasonable. If you have your own kayaks with you and lots of time, just take it easy and cruise around, enjoying the beautiful landscape, awesome hot springs, and wildlife!
Located 90 miles north of Las Vegas, the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge provides hundreds of species of birds with a safe and conserved environment to call home. Visitors are welcome, but you have to play by the rules. Recreational kayaking in the beautiful waters of this refuge is definitely allowed, but motor boats are not. For nature enthusiasts, this is great news! It’s quite enjoyable to spend a day cruising around, enjoying a peaceful nature paddle and spotting different birds in their natural habitat.
The best time of the year to visit this area is either spring or fall, when seasonal migrations bring the most variety of birds to the refuge. I recommend staying at one of the nearby campgrounds and just immersing yourself in nature for a few days. It can be a very enjoyable and relaxing experience for people of all ages and walks of life.
There are certainly other places to kayak in Nevada, but these are the highlights in my opinion. So once you’ve finished partying it up in Vegas, head out into nature for a day or 5 and get paddlin’! And if you ended up getting hitched then you can always get a tandem ‘yak and paddle together!