VISIT: 5 Natural Hot Spring + Emerald Cave Option in the Black Canyon LOCATION: near Las Vegas, on the Colorado River between Hoover Dam and Willow Beach (NV/AZ) TIME: half-full day (7 hrs for me, depending how long you spend at the hot springs) DATE I WENT: 2/23/21 BEST TIME TO VISIT: Winter and early Spring
When I think of the desert and the Colorado River, hot springs are the last thing that comes to mind but there’s actually an abundance of them along the Black Canyon of the Colorado. The Black Canyon Water Trail is along the Nevada and Arizona state line where the Hoover Dam is. Some of these are accessible by hiking, but some can only be accessed by the water via boat/ kayak/ raft.
Black Canyon Water Trail: Hot Springs and Emerald Cave
This Winter, I visited 5 natural hot springs along the Colorado River between Willow Beach, AZ and the Hoover Dam. Although I did my trip on a platoon boat, this same trip is offered by Adventure Child as a Hoover Dam Kayak Trip (mention TIFF for 10% off all bookings).
You can also book your Emerald Cave Tour here – we floated right past it but I wanted to spend my time exploring the hot springs.
This was my first time on the Colorado River and the emerald color along parts of it was unbelievable! The water levels vary throughout the year and with the sun shifting, the Emerald Cave isn’t always going to glow vibrantly green so we chose not to visit it on this trip, but the hot springs below were more than plenty to see for a day trip on the river.
Fun fact: did you know that the Hoover Dam releases water every Friday night to power the electricity for Vegas?
Sauna Cave Hot Springs
The sauna cave hot spring is only accessible by water (you cannot hike here to my knowledge). From the river, it’s a short 2 min hike up to this little gem tucked away in the walls. The water is very warm (but not hot) but the cave holds the heat which gives it the sauna feeling.
No Name Hot Springs: 125 Degrees
Our second stop was to this extremely hot spot just along the Colorado River – I haven’t met a hot spring that was too hot to dip in… until this one. I couldn’t sit in the water, yet barely even touch it. It’s more of a hot spring waterfall as there’s not a deep pool to sit in anyways. However, where the river meets the hot spring, there’s a small “pool” that’s nice to soak in since the cold water cools the 125 degrees water. This one is also only accessible by water.
Gold Strike Hot Springs
I’ve always been curious to hike to Gold Strike Hot Springs… but coming from the Colorado River isn’t a bad way to go either. The hot spring flows right into the river, so once we docked, we were able to walk up the canyon in warm water directly to several hot spring pools.
Infinity Pool Hot Springs
This is the one I was most excited to see and the views did not disappoint. I believe you can hike here (not 100% sure) but it’s easiest accessible by water and a very short (5 min) hike. The views of the Colorado River were glorious and glowed vibrantly on a beautiful, sunny day. We had this hot spring (and a few other ones) all to ourselves!
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Arizona Hot Springs
This is my second time at Arizona Hot Springs – it’s accessible as a hike and you can even camp here which I did last year (blog post coming soon for the hike version – subscribe to my newsletter for new post alerts or book your guided hike tour here).
It’s a short walk from the beach we docked at and you walk through a canyon and up the ladder to access all the pools. It gets hotter the further you walk in but it also gets extremely crowded, even on a weekday in the cooler months.
The end of the day got chilly as the sun was about to set, but the calm water made for beautiful reflections.