For the adventurous boater, Topock Gorge a good one-day trip

While the Havasu National Wildlife refuge protects 30 miles of the Colorado River, 20 remarkable miles of that flow through one of the few natural stretches remaining of the lower Colorado: Topock Gorge. Exploring it is a wonderful one-day adventure if you have boating skills.

The gorge has high rocky cliffs on both sides with interesting formations, including many natural arches. This stretch of the river is a native riparian area with Fremont cottonwood and Gooding’s willow and mesquite, which support a variety of wildlife. It is especially a birders’ paradise, with more than 300 species either making homes here or using it regularly when when migrating.

The wildlife viewing possibilities are endless. You will have the opportunity to see Western and Clark’s grebes, summer tanager and yellow-billed cuckoo. Larger birds include great blue herons, peregrine falcons and an abundance of Canada geese, ducks and other waterfowl. Other wildlife in the gorge includes desert bighorn sheep, coyotes, javelinas, foxes, bobcats and mountain lions.

Established in 1941, primarily as a migratory bird habitat, the refuge includes 37,515 acres in California and Arizona. All of it lies within the Pacific Flyway, and it is considered an Important Bird Area in Arizona.

To visit Topock Gorge, you’ll need to take a boat upstream from the Lake Havasu area or downstream from the Topock Gorge Marina. The Gorge is considered a Class I section of the Colorado, meaning it has flat water with a light current and no rapids.

My favorite trip through the gorge has been a one-way downstream kayak trip, starting at the Topock Gorge Marina under the Interstate 40 bridge over the Colorado River, then paddling and drifting down to the Castle Rock area. Besides the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge, the 15-mile trip also takes you through the Needles Wilderness Area.

Be warned, though. This trip is very remote. No roads access the river between your starting point and the place you’ll take your kayak out of the water, so you’ll need to be a confident and self-sufficient kayaker.

The lack of alternative take-out points makes it especially important when planning your trip, so pay careful attention to weather conditions and forecasts, because high winds can ruin your adventure. If blowing up the river, they can make it very difficult and slow to paddle those 15 miles. With good weather, and allowing time to stop a few times for exploration, the trip downriver will take about five to seven hours.

The first and most popular take-out point (or your put-in point if you want to go upstream into the gorge and return the way you came) is at Castle Rock, at River Mile 220. The parking area is found off Vista Drive in the community of Crystal Bay, just a couple of miles north of Lake Havasu City. From the parking area to the river is about 100 yards, so you’ll need to portage your kayak or canoe. The Castle Rock Bay area is closed to personal watercraft and is a no-wake zone.

You can take two vehicles, leave one at the takeout point, and shuttle yourself and your vessels to the launching area at Topock Marina. Or you can use a guide service. Desert River Outfitters, out of Bullhead City, Ariz., offers a shuttle service that will pick you and your kayak/canoe up at your planned take-out point in the morning and bring you to the Topock Gorge Marina. Then you’ll be on your own to cruise downriver, at your own chosen speed, to the place you left your vehicle. The company also offers a complete package of shuttle, kayak and gear, for $55 per person. For more information, call 888-529-2533 or visit desertriveroutfitters.com.

Deborah Wall is the author of “Great Hikes, A Cerca Country Guide” and “Base Camp Las Vegas: Hiking the Southwestern States,” published by Stephens Press. She can be reached at deborabus@aol.com.

Local
Lee Canyon snow makes skiers smile
Skiers and snow boarders took advantage of the Presidents Day holiday and the recent snowfall at Lee Canyon, outside of Las Vegas. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Mount Charleston gets fresh blanket of snow
A winter storm drops nearly four inches of fresh snow on Sunday, February 17, 2019 at Mount Charleston outside Las Vegas. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Snow in the Las Vegas Valley
Snow accumulated in the Las Vegas Valley for the first time in more than a decade, with snow falling mostly in the western, northwestern and southern areas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review Journal) @bizutesfaye
Snow at US 95 and Lee Canyon Road
Passers-by pulled off Lee Canyon Road northwest of Las Vegas Monday to play in the fresh snow. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Road truck on an empty I-15
Snow and ice contributed to the closure of Interstate 15 near Primm. Jim Prather/Las Vegas Review-Journal
I-15 traffic diverted at St. Rose Parkway
The Nevada Highway Patrol has closed Interstate 15 in both directions between south Las Vegas and the California state line due to icy road conditions, Monday, Feb. 18, 2019. (Jim Prather/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ice on roadway shuts down I-15 south of Las Vegas
An overnight snowstorm left an icy roadway, causing the Nevada Highway Patrol to shut down Interstate 15 south of Las Vegas to the California state line. (Jim Prather/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
I-15 closed at St. Rose Parkway
Ice on Interstate 15 caused the Nevada Highway Patrol to close the highway from St. Rose Parkway in south Las Vegas to the California state line on Monday, Feb. 18, 2019. (Jim Prather/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Driving a snowy Sunday night in Summerlin
Several inches of snow have fallen in Summerlin on Sunday, Feb. 17, 2019. This shows street conditions between Charleston and Far Hills in Summerlin. (Jim Prather/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Winter wonderland at Summerlin park
A snowstorm hit Fox Hill Park in Summerlin on Sunday, Feb. 17, 2019. (Jim Prather/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
February snowstorm in western Las Vegas
A snowstorm hit Summerlin and parts of western Las Vegas on Sunday, Feb. 17, 2019. (Jim Prather/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Snow in Summerlin
Snow near Far Hills and Fox Hill Drive.
Valentine's Day Brings Wet Weather To Las Vegas
Parts of the Las Vegas Valley received more than an inch of rain by 1 p.m. Thursday, triggering numerous vehicle accidents, sparking flooding and prompting at least two swift-water rescues in flood channels. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Artist sends love from the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign
Artist Chris O'Rourke has a giant heart mounted in the back of pickup positioned for photos at the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign on the Las Vegas Strip on Valentine's Day 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rain doesn't dampen weddings on Valentine's Day
Charolette Richards, owner of A Little White Wedding Chapel who has been performing weddings for 60 years, started Valentine’s Day 2019 by performing a wdding for Las Vegas couple David and Elaine Cook at the chapel’s Tunnel of Love drive-thru. Richards has over 100 weddings booked for Valentine’s Day. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Swift-water rescue in Las Vegas
The Clark County Fire Department rescued one person from the flooded Durango Wash in Las Vegas on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
It is a rainy Valentine's Day in Las Vegas - Video
These scenes come from the Las Vegas Stadium LiveCam (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rainy and soggy on Valentine's Day
Valentine's Day across the Las Vegas Valley will be soggy and wet. A flood advisory has been issued for Clark County. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Early morning rainfall in Las Vegas
The Las Vegas valley was hit with rainfall early Thursday morning. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Janelle Veith, Quest Academy principal, talks about her school success
Janelle Veith, Quest Academy principal, talks about her school success. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Learning how to create your own comic book
Jean Munson talks about the class she teaches at the Maximum Comics in Henderson on creating and publishing your own comic book.
Top Ladies of Distinction unveils second Las Vegas chapter
Officers Clair Hart and Rose Coker discuss the service organization’s work and mission.
The Animal Foundation Opens New Wing
On Tuesday, The Animal Foundation opened the doors to its new Engelstad Foundation Adoption center. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
North Las Vegas firefighter skates from ice to fire
Darcy Loewen, a former pro hockey player, finds a new career as a North Las Vegas firefighter. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Carnival AirShip floats over Las Vegas
Carnival Cruise flew a blimp over the LAs Vegas Valley on Thursday in a promotion for its new Carnival Panorama ship. (Mat luschek/Review-Journal)
Pedestrian dies after crash at Decatur and Alta
Las Vegas police investigate a fatal crash that killed a pedestrian at Decatur Boulevard and Alta Driver about 6 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. (Jessica Terrones/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Star Wars Cosplayers Visit Sick Kids At Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center
Members of Coruscant Base, a Star Wars cosplay group, visit kids at Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Hail and wet snow in Las Vegas
The western edges of Las Vegas saw some hail and wet snow on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Developer Jim Rhodes lists his mansion for $30 million
Jim Rhodes, a developer, has listed his mansion in Spanish Hills community for $30 million. The mansion is situated on 2 acres of land and features 19,345 square feet of living space. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Court ruling brings hope to local Vietnam veteran
Blue Water Navy Veteran Michael Yates talks about possible medical benefits he could receive after a federal court ruling this week. Yates claims he was exposed to Agent Orange and attributes that to his health problems, which include cancer.
Las Vegas charter school excels in areas of greatest need
Mater Academy Mountain Vista charter school students excel despite the fact that half the students are English language learners and all qualify for free or reduced-price lunches. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Tony Sanchez wraps up the UNLV season
UNLV football coach Tony Sanchez wraps up the season. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
ad-high_impact_4
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing