Guide Training: Black Canyon

Take your leadership and paddling skills to the next level!

students kayaking out of cave

Develop your own personal leadership style and maximize your paddling stokes as you travel to the bottom of the Hoover Dam. This January we will paddle ten miles up the Colorado River, where the valley turns to canyon with towering walls and side canyons to explore. At times, paddling will be very strenuous, but a soak in the hot springs afterwards makes the effort very rewarding. Camp out under the stars, relax in a sauna cave, and sit in awe as you view the Hoover Dam from a new perspective! See first hand the impacts of the drought on Lake Mead.  Serve as leader of the day.  January guide training trips are loads of fun and this experience will serve as the foundation for your development as a leader in OA! 

This trip is designed to provide you with many opportunities for growth and development as an outdoor leader. You will have the chance to push yourself physically and mentally while living and traveling with a small group of peers. Since this is a training trip, ample time will be allocated for classes on outdoor living and outdoor leadership skills, including route planning, navigation, rescue skills, introspection and cooperative group management strategies. Serving as a leader of the day will provide you with an opportunity to practice leading a group followed by a group debrief in which you can share your personal assessment and receive timely peer feedback.


Jan 20 (Day 1): We will meet at the OA office at 8AM and travel Lake Mead where we’ll camp at Boulder Beach for our first night of camping. We will stop along the way for lunch, gas and restrooms as needed. Once we arrive at the campground we’ll tour Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam until its time to set up tents (or sleep out under the stars) so that we can get an early start on the river the next day.

Jan 21(Day 2): Wednesday morning we will wake up with the sunrise, eat breakfast and pack up camp to depart Boulder Beach and head to Willow Beach for our paddle up river. Before launching, Dave and Kelly will prepare you with everything you need to know about canoeing, including water safety and effective paddling strokes. Once our canoes are loaded, we will journey about seven miles up river toward our campsite at Arizona Hot Springs. We will stop for lunch along the way enjoying the many scenic views. Once we arrive at camp, we will unload all the gear from our canoes and prepare dinner together.

Jan 22 (Day 3): Once again we will wake early, enjoy a hearty breakfast and continue paddling up river three more miles to enjoy several hot springs. If the current is not too strong, we will stop for photos below the Hoover Dam. We’ll explore some of the many side canyons and make stops along the way to use the riverbank as our outdoor classroom. 

Jan 23 (Day 4): Another day of instruction and exploration. We will wake early and use the low water levels to paddle upstream again to find hidden hot springs and classrooms. Back at camp, the evening will be used for you all to hone in on your teaching style followed by group reflection time.

Jan 24 (Day 5): We have another big day ahead of us today. We will wake early and pack up camp loading our gear back into the canoes. We will paddle down river back to the launch site at Willow Beach before lunch. We will load back into the van and start our drive back to USD. You’ll leave this trip with experience as a paddler, an understanding of risk management on the water, new insight into your personal leadership style and a first hand account of how our current water usage directly impacts the Colorado River and Southern California.

Dates: Jan 20-24, 2014

Cost: $175 Please arrive on campus by mid-day on Jan 19 to check in with OA.

students in pool of water