Water sports: With the paddle boat through the desert of North America


With the paddle boat through the desert of North America

Water sports: With the paddle boat through the desert of North America-sports

The barren desert landscape can be seen in the background, but so-called “Lakefront” houses, such as those in Bullhead City, are also located directly on the Colorado River

Source: Muncheberg

The Colorado River runs through one of the hottest areas in the world and the Las Vegas Strip is only two hours away. Water sports can also be practiced in this environment – in a fascinating way.

D.the contrast could hardly be greater. Water sports in American – that still means “Big is beautiful” for many. With roaring engines, the third largest open-topped “Desert Storm” powerboat race always takes place at the beginning of the season on Lake Havasu in western Arizona, south of Nevada on the border with California.

That this race is right here at the foothills of the Mojave Desert runs on the small but long lake is mainly due to the fact that there are no speed limits on it. And so the PS junkies make a pilgrimage to Havasu once a year to indulge in their speed rush regardless of any ecological considerations.

Helen Howard doesn’t really like this type of motorized water sport. She prefers to be quiet. She worked as an insurance broker for 25 years. When the office job became too boring for her, she quit and quickly turned her hobby into a profession. Her hobby has been paddling with all kinds of canoes for eleven years. During a whitewater rafting tour, she learned how to use the double paddle – and was immediately enthusiastic.

Boat rental company and tour guide

Why not paddle on the largely natural Colorado River, which is practically right on your doorstep ?, she asked herself, rolled up her sleeves and started all over again nine years ago – as a boat rental company and tour guide for her own small company " Desert Kayak ”in Bullhead City, Arizona, just a two hour drive southeast from the famous Las Vegas Strip.

Her company now owns over 200 canoes, Canadians and kayaks. “We are in season all year round,” says the entrepreneur happily. But now at the beginning of the season is the best time to get on the water, she says, "it’s not that hot yet and it’s not that full on the water either".

Once a week she personally accompanies a trip down the Colorado river, enjoys the silence and becomes one with the river, who has determined her life for a few years. Today is such a day, and after the paddlers have used their slim kayaks at Davis Camp below the dam of the same name in the cool Colorado and received a briefing, they already picks up the current of the broad watercourse and gently pushes away south.

A river surrounded by desert vegetation

It’s an unusual sight: Surrounded by barren desert vegetation, the clear, cool river meanders through the bridge that connects Laughlin in Nevada on one side, on the right, and Bullhead City on the other, on the left side of Arizona. On it, in the middle of the river, only a few paddlers who, half drifting, half propelling their red and green plastic canoes themselves through a few strokes, now the big hotel casinos on starboard such as the "Riverside" and the "Colorado Belle" happen.

It is well advised to protect yourself against the sun before the trip – "with sun blockers with a very high sun protection factor and a headgear", advises Helen, because the pleasant coolness of the water and a weak but steady south wind make you notice the extraordinarily strong intensity exposure to the sun is often too late: there is a risk of sunburn.

You should also carry enough water with you: "If you feel thirsty on the water, it is actually too late," says Helen. She advises you to drink enough fluids regularly before and during the trip.

As soon as the small paddling group has left the last hotel buildings and casinos aft, they are surrounded by absolute tranquility and, it seems, completely untouched nature. “The Laughlin Lagoon a little south of the city of Laughlin is my favorite spot,” reveals paddle guide Helen.

And indeed, this reed-covered shallow water area, which can only be reached by a narrow driveway from the river, is a refuge for many animal and plant species. Helen tells water sports enthusiasts that the lagoon is part of the now protected Big Bend Nature Park.

Longer trips are possible

A golden bird sits on a gnarled branch sticking out of the clear water, half a meter deep. A fat carp slides directly under the kayaks – and disappears into the thick belt of reeds. Great crested grebes with red eyes disappear into the water and reappear a few meters further with small fish in their beak. Coots disappear into the nearby belt of reeds, from which mysterious beeps, whistles and chuckles. The beaver has also recently made its home here, says Helen.

Those who enjoy this type of locomotion on the Colorado River can do longer trips, alone or in a group, ”says Helen. The paddling tour through the Black Canyon from Hoover Dam in the north to Willow Beach, eleven miles south on Lake Mohave, is often booked.

"The greenish shimmering river at the foot of the Hoover Dam forms a fascinating contrast to the sometimes steep, black and red rock walls made of solidified lava," says Helen. And with a little luck you could even experience the shy bighorn sheep, who have to come to the river to drink, in their natural environment, get so close to them.

If a day trip is not enough for you, book a paddle excursion of up to six days along the varied Colorado River. On the way, people camp by the river and sleep in sleeping bags, explains the canoe entrepreneur during a paddle break on one of the countless small, sheltered sandy beaches on the bank.

Buoys show the strength of the current

A short time later, the paddlers pass the picturesque, pastel-colored "Lakefront" houses of Bullhead City on the eastern, Arizona side of the river, a little further downstream. Here it is important to keep an eye out: How strong the current really is here can be seen from the buoys that heeled strongly in the water, behind which a wide, rustling stern wave forms. Otherwise, you can quickly get under one of the jetties built into the river in front of the pretty houses by boat.

After about ten miles, the group pulls their slender boats out of the water of the Colorado River at Riverview Rotary Park – the river north of Interstate 40 near Needles is surrounded by nothing but desert and inhospitable mountain ranges. But maybe this scenario is what makes the lakes along the river in southwest North America so interesting.

There, where the over 2333 kilometers long Colorado River divides the states of Arizona, Nevada and California on a short section – and connects the water sports enthusiasts from these countries across all national borders.

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