Mid-January 2022 found us continuing our slow march north. After a fun week at River Island State Park, we moved 146 miles north to Willow Beach, Arizona. Willow Beach is located within the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Unlike the other Lake Mead campgrounds we have stayed at, Willow Beach is located below Hoover Dam in the rugged and highly scenic Black Canyon.

Willow Beach, Arizona

Willow Beach Basecamp

Our home for the next nine nights would be the Willow Beach RV Park. With its unique location, the park offers scenic views of the Black Canyon of the Colorado River, as well as mountain and desert landscapes in the distance. The major attraction here is access for the Black Canyon National Water Trail. While Willow Beach would serve as a nice basecamp for Boulder City and southern portion of Lake Mead, it was kayaking on the water trail that was the main draw for us. I’ll cover our adventures on the water trail in my next post.

Home at Willow Beach
We enjoyed some nice walks from camp at Willow Beach
Bunny & quail watching kept Indy busy
Indy enjoying some banjo picking during a rest from wildlife viewing

Willow Beach is located at the end of the Willow Beach access road 11 miles south of Hoover Dam along US 93. The access road is paved, but in rough shape—be prepared to shake your RV up a bit. Forever Resorts operates an RV park, marina, store, café, and watercraft rentals. The National Park Service has picnic facilities, a launch ramp and a fishing pier.

Willow Beach RV Park offers 28 full-service RV sites (paved sites with water, sewer, electric, fire ring and picnic table) and 9 tent sites. Showers and laundry are located in the middle of the campground, making this a convenient stop for emptying our tanks and catching up on laundry. Wifi is available, but don’t count on it for much more than emails and checks of the weather. Rates here are pretty steep and they have gone up even higher since our stay. RV sites are now $70 per night and tent sites $35. This was our most expensive stay-to-date, but we really enjoyed our time here. The small campground was peaceful and we had large groups of bunnies and quail grazing around our RV every day.

Indy loved all the quail and bunnies!

Boulder City Fun

Boulder City has become a favorite stop over on our travels south from our home in Washington. Winter weather is mild and we enjoy the variety of recreational opportunities found at nearby Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Whereas nearby Las Vegas is crowded, expensive, and touristy, Boulder City feels like a normal little community—a fact its residents seem very proud of. Boulder City provides all the city amenities that we need for extended stays including diesel, propane, laundry, pharmacy, grocery shopping, and one of our favorite restaurants.

Our basecamp at Willow Beach was just half an hour south of Boulder City. We made the drive “to town” a couple different days to walk and bike the paved River Mountains Loop Trail, do some grocery shopping, and to enjoy a couple meals out. And we made time to visit one of my favorite tourist stops, Bootleg Park with its huge desert animal sculptures.

Me hamming it up at Bootleg Park
No trip to Boulder City would be complete without a stop at Fox Smokehouse BBQ. If I order a salad, does that make the mac and cheese any healthier??

Liberty Bell Arch Hike

Located just 15 miles north of our basecamp at Willow Beach is a fun hike that we discovered during our first visit to Lake Mead National Recreation Area back in 2019. The Liberty Bell Arch Trail is a 5.5 mile out-and-back hike to a bell-shaped arch. Past the arch, those willing to make a final climb are rewarded with a stunning view down into the Black Canyon of the Colorado River just below Hoover Dam.

Area just south of Hoover Dam

We enjoyed the hike enough the first time that we decided to do it again on this trip. We would have preferred to hike nearby White Rock Canyon to Arizona Hot Spring, but it was a weekend and that is an extremely popular trail. We opted for better solitude on the Liberty Bell Trail. For a more thorough description of the trail, see our previous blog post Celebrating the Start of a New Decade.

Black Canyon of the Colorado River

Crane’s Nest Hike

Lake Mead National Recreation Area is full of hiking routes just begging to be explored. You won’t find these in the Park’s newspaper, but a little online research will produce some good options. One such route is down Crane’s Nest Road to the Black Canyon of the Colorado River.

Happy hikers in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River

The Crane’s Nest Route begins at milepost 8 along US 93 south of Hoover Dam. There is an unsigned turnoff to the south here that sneaks up on you quick. The unpaved road trends northwest for a short distance and then makes a hard turn to the left. The road is rocky in places, has soft sand in others, and the encroaching desert shrubs will add some lovely pinstripes to your vehicle’s paint if you aren’t careful. A high-clearance 4WD vehicle is advised if you want to drive to the road’s end. Or just park in one of the many pullouts once you become uncomfortable with the road conditions and walk from there.

Naturally, the distance you hike is dependent on where you park. Those able (and willing) to drive to the end of the road will have a roundtrip hike of around a couple miles. It is a little ambiguous where the road officially ends and some will make it further than others. One person on AllTrails reports that she had to park her car at the start of Crane’s Nest Road resulting in a 10 miles roundtrip. We parked part way down the road to avoid pin striping our F350 truck making it a 8.0 mile hike for us. The scenery along the road portion was pleasant and we didn’t mind the extra exercise.

Crane’s Nest Road nearing an end as the canyon begins to slot up

Once at the end of the road, a clear route took off down the wash and through some beautiful narrows before reaching a large gravel beach in Black Canyon. We had the narrows and beach all to ourselves on a windy, but sunny day. This was a great hike for scenery and solitude. We only saw 2 other parties, both on the road section. It is always fun to find such quiet corners of the greater Las Vegas area.

Black Canyon of the Colorado River

The Adventure Continues

Be sure to join us on our next adventure as we kayak the gorgeous waters of the Black Canyon National Water Trail. And don’t forget to check out our Amazon RV and Adventure Gear recommendations. We only post products that we use and that meet the Evans Outdoor Adventures seal of approval. By accessing Amazon through our links and making any purchase (even things as simple as toothpaste!), you get Amazon’s every day low pricing and they share a little with us. This helps us maintain this website and is much appreciated!

Lovely sunsets at Willow Beach

2 Replies to “Willow Beach & Black Canyon of the Colorado River”

  1. I have been looking at a Outdoors RV 24 RLS so was super interested when I found your site. What a great job you have done on your posts. I have a few questions. I notice you ditched your spare tire to put bikes on the back. Where did it go? What type of stabilizer/sway control system did you decide on? Did you consider Andersen chain system? What kind of mileage do you get towing fully loaded? We are looking at downsizing a bit from our 5th wheel and currently pull with a Silverado Duramax. It looks like you enjoy some of the same places we do in the southwest. We generally leave our northern Idaho home in the spring and travel south for a couple of months. I have subscribed and look forward to your reply and future posts.

    1. Hello Dick,

      Thank you for the comments and kind words. We have been very happy with our ORV. The 24RLS are super nice units. We debated long and hard between one of those and the 24RKS. In the end, the extra grey tank and storage was too much to resist given our long trips and extended dry camping. But I do admit to getting a little jealous every time I see an RLS pass by with those big back windows 🙂

      Fortunately, we were able to leave our spare tire on in the original position. Our bike rack mounts into the factory hitch and clears the tire. We have to put things on “just so”, but it works and we’ve been happy with the set up. For stabilizer/sway control, we went with the Equalizer brand at the recommendation of Thompson RV in Pendleton. We’ve been happy with it, but we’ve heard the Andersen systems are good too. We think the biggest thing there is just having a big enough truck to handle the RV- these are HEAVY units! We’re towing with a 2019 F350 diesel and we pretty consistently average 10.5mpg towing. That is pretty consistent regardless of how full/empty our tanks are and how many grades we’re pulling. Only thing that seems to make much of a difference is speed (60ish being the sweet spot).

      We LOVE the Southwest! Of course, Northern Idaho is a pretty gorgeous place to be from as well. Some of our best hikes have been in the Selkirks and we spend a lot of time in Northcentral Idaho since it is so close to home. Best of luck with your shopping. No RV is perfect, but we truly have loved our ORV and believe the quality is better than in our previous RVs. Don’t hesitate to reach out if we can be of assistance. Either comment on a post or feel free to email us at evansoutdooradventures@yahoo.com

      Happy trails,

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