Although The Hiker’s Way typically covers hiking adventures in the Southern California area, occasional coverage of interesting and exciting outdoor adventures in other beautiful areas will also be provided from time to time. A recent Black Canyon Colorado River Canyoneering trip outside Las Vegas is a case in point.
Black Canyon is the name conferred on the gorge of the Colorado River just below the Hoover Dam. The name derives from the dark color of the volcanic rock in the area. The gorge is deep, and many side canyons lead down from the rim to the river some 2000′ below. These canyons at the rim may appear dry and uninteresting, but as one descends the wonders of each canyon reveal themselves to the dedicated canyoneer.
Many of the canyons contain spectacular falls – normally dry but sculpted dramatically by flash floods over eons of geologic time. These falls typically must be rappelled to continue descent. In addition, there are hidden hot springs in many of these canyons, and also flowing cold water springs in many as well that support flora and fauna in the area. The canyons typically end at their confluence with the mighty Colorado River, and in some cases it’s necessary to pack raft down the river to exit. Many of these areas are essentially impossible to reach by any other methods, and this is one of the enticing features of canyoneering as sport – the ability to see spectacular places that can not be accessed otherwise. Below are photos from three of the canyon in this magnificent area.
Weeping Springs Canyon
Weeping Springs is considered one of the best technical canyons in the area. It drops from the Black Canyon rim steeply down and includes 9 rappels, the tallest of which is 150′, and numerous other down climbs. Near its intersection with the Colorado River is a small spring that weeps through the rock providing its name. The canyon ends at a 30′ waterfall into an inlet that connects with the river, and thus one must rappel down this cliff and pack raft down the Colorado River. The standard exit is the next canyon down stream, Bighorn Canyon, which can be traversed back up to the starting point without technical means, but which is a demanding and strenuous traverse involving many small up climbs.
Keyhole Canyon is a short but beautiful canyon renowned for the quality of its amazing granite. In fact, a rock climbing festival was being held at the mouth of the canyon on the weekend we traversed it – but there was no one in the most beautiful middle section of the canyon, which is available only to canyoneers. Keyhole Canyon begins above the desert in small group of mountains and drops to the desert floor, so its terminus is not into the Colorado River. It includes 5 rappels the tallest of which is 100′, and some spectacularly polished granite.
Video of Keyhole Canyon
Boy Scout Canyon with 340′ Rappel
Boy Scout Canyon is one of the loveliest canyons on the area, mostly known for its year-round flowing cold spring and several very hot hot springs that seep from the canyon walls. The lower part of the canyon is a popular stop on Colorado River rafting trips, as the participants travel up canyon enjoying the numerous small waterfalls, pools, and hot springs there. However, very few travel down canyon from the rim above, and fewer still conquer the awesome head wall that includes the tallest rappel in the area and one of the tallest canyon rappels in the US southwest. At 340′ with a sheer vertical face and a long segment that requires free hanging in air, the rappel is not for the faint of heart. It is possible to bypass the massive cliff via a tricky and demanding bypass on the right, that allows for an up climb around the cliff face after the journey down canyon.
Video of 340′ Rappel in Boy Scout Canyon
Here Kim McAnany rappels the epic 340′ wall in Boyscout Canyon – the tallest in the area and one of the tallest canyon rappels in the entire US southwest.