Sunday, March 4, 2012

Willow Beach & Arizona Hot Springs

In addition to the great scenery along the 93 towards Vegas there are two places to make special note of.- neither of which we stopped at this year.

But we did last year and since our blogs from last year have gone to blog heaven (a whole other story!) we thought we would include the pics and stories here. 

We reminisced as we drove by the signs.

Coming from the south the first is Willow Beach - roughly - but don't quote me - 12 miles south of the Hoover Dam.

We 'stayed' here last year in early March while killing time waiting for a snow storm to clear out of Idaho and Washington. 

By staying I mean we attempted to boondock with only partial success. 

Watch carefully for the Willow Beach Rd sign - just past there is also a Willow Beach Recreation Area sign.

Willow Beach is along the Colorado River just south of the Dam.

It is a fairly steep drive down to it - but hey - if we can do it most anyone can - I mean make it UP again.

We went for several hikes up in the hills.

Once we reached the bottom to the parking area - having driven ALL THE WAY DOWN - we found out that the campground was closed due to a land slide. We were pretty disappointed but not too put out since I had read that there were boondocking areas here. 

We spoke with the concessionaire who told us 'to go ahead and camp overnight in the parking lot - since the Ranger NEVER COMES DOWN ANYWAY' - although we didn't hear that from her.

And so we pulled to the end lot and thoroughly enjoyed a few days there. Hiking, walking to the river, and watching the fishing off the pier. 

Only to then be visited by who? yup - the Ranger - you know the one that NEVER COMES DOWN!

We explained the situation AND the lack of 'no camping' signs. 

We were sent packing with a warning. 

As we were leaving later in the day we were approached by another camper wondering about parking overnight. After a friendly visit we both decided to head out.

Just as we were leaving a man WHO WORKED THERE said to just go up that road over there and they won't bother you.


So we both headed up and parked for the night - again - no 'no camping' signs. We sure enjoyed our fire time that night with Monty and Lana. The next morning they offered one of their kayaks to Derek - and Cassia.

It was pretty windy that day so poor Derek - but they did make it across the river and back. Monty was gone for hours! super fit!

Monty and Lana left later that day but we camped a few more nights and then headed back to Henderson to check the weather. Since it was still bad to the north we headed back down to the SPOT.

Big Mistake! Shortly thereafter a return visit from the Ranger - you know the one that NEVER COMES DOWN. We were sent packing with a $70 citation. Needless to say we can't return there.

But you can! It is a beautiful spot.

While finding the link for you I see that the campground is open again. Good news! Not so good news.... they now charge $35/night for full hook ups. Well - consider it a splurge and go!

Next along 93 is the parking lot for the trail that leads to the Arizona Hot Springs.

Be forewarned - it is not for the faint of heart or the exercise challenged. It is a whole lot of work to get there and back. Approx. 3 miles down - but then of course 3 miles back UP. It is a tough trek in and you really need to do some research on the web in order to be able to find it - or hope that there is someone down by the river that you can ask for directions. If we hadn't had someone to ask there is NO WAY we would have found it (even with directions from the internet).

One of the most beautifully situated natural hot springs I have been to.

I wasn't overly impressed about climbing this ladder with water running down at me. Derek coached me - after all - he had just done it with Cassia on his back. I spent the whole time talking myself up only to realize at the top that there were people listening to me. Can we say embarrassing!

This story really gets good when we were on our way out. We had been sitting in the springs with a couple from Henderson. Not overly fit looking and drinking beer - this is important info - just bear with me.

They tell us about the 'back exit' - a trail out the back that is a bit steep but at least 1 hour shorter. hmmmm well - as Derek and I discussed after they had left - if they can do it surely we can!

And so after much deliberation we decided to give it a try. All went really well at first....

Neat rocks.....

not overly steep.....

Until we came to 20 foot wall - yup - no exaggeration! We just stopped and stared, and stared.

I don't know what got Derek up that wall with Cassia on his back. His sheer will and something extra -I'll call it a miracle - God getting our back - big time! We still talk about it with a nervous laugh. 

We came THIS CLOSE to ending Cassia's life when it was just getting going at 22 months of age.

And me you ask! I looked at that wall and said NOPE - can't do it.

So we decided I should back track and look for another route. And wouldn't you know that about 20 feet back we had missed the real way up! It wasn't easy - I didn't look down - but I got up with ease compared to Derek's rock climbing experience.

The rest of the hike to the trailer was smooth but we spent the ENTIRE time in a weird state of brain meltdown realizing that this time we had cut it WAYYYY to close! 

Moral of the story? If you go down - which I hope you do - and take the back way out - don't climb the 20' wall - turn around - go back about 20' and go up the rocks piled against the short wall.

I think we'll only go back when 1) enough time has passed so that we forgot the pain and 2) when Cassia is old enough to walk it herself - 

so it may be a good 10 years.

Good story eh? Guess you can see why we drove right by these two places this year!


Today's Interesting Link: I CANNOT believeeeee this website has eluded me thus far - I thought I was really up on my RVing sites! Guess not! Now I am wondering what other sites I am missing!!!! Head over to Hitchitch for a great list if you are into reading RVing blogs. I am currently trying to get us on to the site to fanangle some much needed PR.


  1. Yes a very good story, wait a few years before returning and it will be fun again.

    1. ha ha - Derek and I laugh that by that time we'll be too old for such a strenuous climb!

      We'll see!

  2. Derek here- Regarding the 20 foot wall, it did not look as difficult from the bottom looking up but once I had climbed to 2 feet from the top I realized I was stuck, I could not go back down and I could only continue up. I had a hand hold on a cleft 2 feet from the top so I used every ounce of energy I had to pull Cassia and myself up with both hands with no more foot holds unto that ledge. I am agile but not as agile as I was when I was 20 or even 30 but thanks be to God that we made it :-) if I had fallen I had planned to flip myself so that I would land on my front and Cassia would have been on cushioned from the fall. As a new father I learned a new lesson to never attempt such a risky adventure again.

  3. We are so sorry that you experienced such a scare !! But, I am sure that everyone who reads your story will agree with me, that you guys learned a lesson that stick pokes at your heart today !!
    And truth be told, we all have some of those stories as well.
    We are very thankful that we are being "watched over" as well !!

    1. Thanks for the support TnT and the reminder that it is a learning process! xo


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