The Way to See Hoover Dam

As I mentioned, my Pure Insurance talk fell at the same time as my kids’ spring break, so we decided to bring them for a Vegas adventure trip. Vegas isn’t known for being kid-friendly or for outdoor experiences. However, you can find mini-adventures everywhere. Although the Hoover Dam is controversial for damaging the Colorado River, one of the most beautiful and fragile rivers in North America, I still thought it would be interesting to check it out. No matter what your opinion, it’s a pretty impressive feat of construction.

Instead of joining the throngs of tourists in busses, Ellie discovered Daniel Woods of Epic Adventures Photography, who led us on a hike and scramble down a slot canyon about a mile below the dam. This part of the Colorado River is the Black Canyon. The hike involved a series of fixed ropes that we used to lower ourselves deeper and deeper into the canyon until, near the bottom, we were surrounded by steep walls 500 feet above us. We were also rewarded by hot springs, one of which poured off the rock face and formed a perfect hot shower which we all took turns underneath.

At the edge of the Colorado, we pulled pack-rafts (less than 5 lbs.) from our backpacks, inflated them, and paddled up to the base of Hoover Dam. We got as close as we could go legally; I could hear the massive concrete wall looming above and the churning turbines under the water pumping electricity to all the Vegas casinos. After a few photos, we floated downstream to another slot canyon where we deflated rafts and hiked out. Although we’d hiked into a canyon in Nevada, we now hiked out into Arizona, the Colorado River being the border between these two states. Again, we passed through another amazing hot spring, taking a soak before hiking out the last three miles to the trailhead.

The day before while walking along the Vegas strip, we passed stores like Fendi, Valentino, and Prada. Emma, my fashion-conscious teenager, said, “I love this place. I want to come back!” But the next day, on the sparkling, vibrant shore of the Colorado River, she said, “Dad, I do love the lights and excitement of Vegas, but I love this canyon too.” As a dad, I couldn’t ask for more.

Thanks to Daniel Woods for a great day. If you’d like to learn more about Epic Adventures Photography, check out

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