December 21, 2013 (Winter Solstice)
You do need a permit so we book a couple of months in advance. The number of people put into the river from this location is limited.
|Just us and the ducks|
As we trekked out to the car park after only 5 hours sleep we were excited to discover we would have the river to ourselves as we were the only ones being put in. The next day a group of 40 is being launched so great timing!
|Climbing into the cave|
We had a cool start and immediately paddled/floated to the sauna cave. This was originally dug during dam construction but abandoned after the miners hit a geothermal vent. A hot spring runs out of the tunnel and it is wonderfully hot and humid.
Next stop Goldstrike Canyon. You can hike to this canyon so we had company in the spring, but it is pleasant and an hour and a half passes by far too quickly.
|Just over waist deep and hot!|
We tied our boat up here high on the gravel beach once and returned to find it floating in chest deep water surrounded by ducks. They aren't kidding when they tell you to tie up! The water flow is controlled entirely by the dam and power requirements, it can change dramatically and fast.
We bypassed Boy Scout Canyon this time (more hot springs) and landed at Moonscape Canyon. Overnight we have gone from snow to summer. We camped here a few years back, it was so peaceful.
Our final stop of the morning is Arizona Hot Springs. You can also hike down to this area so it is typically a lot busier. The hike up the slot canyon from the beach is gorgeous with a couple of warm waterfalls to climb.
|Ladder to AZ Hot Springs|
The hot spring portion of the trip is only 3.5 miles but we spent 5 hours there. We average 20 minute miles for the next part which gives us additional stopping time of an hour to play on any beaches we see. (Pick up time at Willow Beach is 3:30 pm).
The river is very low so there isn't a lot of current. However, there is no headwind or waves to slow us down. A couple of hover boat tours pass while we are on the beach and we see maybe 3 motor boats all day. Quiet. Perfect!