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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!