DEVILS DRAIN & BIGHORN CANYONS. COLORADO RIVER, NEVADA

February 20, 2017


Devils Drain Canyon, Black Range, Lake Mead Nevada

The Black Canyon is a fantastic location that is located just south of Las Vegas.  The Black Canyon is apart of the Colorado river and actually borders Nevada and Arizona. Cross the river is usually done VIA the famous hoover dam or by some type of water craft either by traveling up the river or with the use of a Canoe or Kayak. The river trip is a fantastic experience going down river since you can stop off at some great hydro thermal caves and hot springs.   There are also some technical and non-technical canyon routes that people can check out as they go down the black canyon.   the waters are crystal clear and the campsites can be with other groups of people or a bit more remote so you can enjoy the experience in prive. Last year, Laura and I came down the canyon on a kayak trip with the Armstrong's and a group of friends but this year I came down another direction to meet up with the group for a night on the Colorado river, via Devils Drain Canyon.


Devils Drain Canyon, Black Range, Lake Mead Nevada
Devils Drain is typically done with a pack raft across the river to white springs hollow canyon and out to a shuttle car.  This time I came from the top and was planning to create a new loop that would connect devils drain to weeping springs canyon. I mapped out a route through a wash and I was ready to ascend the 2500ft of elevation to make a connection and a potential weekend of canyoneering future visitors. I followed the rim and stopped to view the campsite and could see someone moving around near the beach so I knew a group was there but I was not sure if the group I was meeting up with was going to be there.  I had a backup with Andy, mentioning that I would be at this campsite by 7pm in case the group was at a different camp site.

Devils Drain Canyon, Black Range, Lake Mead Nevada
 I worked my way around the rim which appeared to have volcanic properties and made my way over to a sketchy down climb on a thin ridge to a layer of crumbly yellowish rock material. I could hear bighorn sheep running about on the range and I could also see a group of kayakers in the Colorado river. I continue to make my way down onto this hill that appeared to reflect properties of a caldera more so than a top of the hill.  The basalt properties came as I quickly approached the head of Devils Drain and the first drop of the day.

Devils Drain Canyon, Black Range, Lake Mead Nevada

This drop was about 70ft through a keyhole and was a free air drop. There was a massive rock over this keyhole that turned this drop into an alcove of sorts.

Devils Drain Canyon, Black Range, Lake Mead Nevada

After I made my descent into the first drop of devils drain, I started pulling the rope, the tension increased exponentially so I stopped before I stuck the rope. I tried pull it from the other side to attempt to free it from anything that it might have been caught on and gave it another shot, nope it was snug and stuck on something at the top. I was glancing around at the walls and they appeared to be climbable but I wanted to keep working on this  rope before I made that decision, I am glad I did as I was able to free the rope and move on to the next drop.

Devils Drain Canyon, Black Range, Lake Mead Nevada

 There was a 20ft drop that was almost a down climb but I just rigged a double rope since I had everything with me. Than came the most interesting drop, it was a 100ft drop down a dry chute to a table with another drop of 40ft to the bottom. The wall was a bit fluted and appeared to be the most interesting part of the canyon. I came down both drops with out any issues. Shortly was the last sequence of drops which was in two tiers and dropped me another 100ft to the wash. The technical part was really short but the drops were pretty nice for the Black Canyon Range.

Devils Drain Canyon, Black Range, Lake Mead Nevada
 I made my way down the wash and eventually came to the hot springs where the atmosphere changed from desert to dense thorny and a heavily vegetated stream. It was nice to get my feet in the water but it was not so nice going through the bush.  It was slow going and would almost spring you backwards a bit with every step forward.  Not to mention that the thorns would tear and cut into your dermal layer of your skin.  At one point I had to crawl under these barbwire thorn trees and I was crawling over bighorn sheep skulls and skeletons.

Bighorn Canyon exit, Black Range, Lake Mead Nevada

 I contemplated taking one with me to the campsite but I elected to just leave it where it was for some other misguided soul to stumble upon while they went through the cat claw passage of devils drain.
Eventually it opened up a bit as I hiked LDC and was able to get over into another stream that eventually took me to the waterfall I remember last year. I finally made it.


Bighorn Canyon exit, Black Range, Lake Mead Nevada
woohoo.. It was easy walking down to the Colorado river from where and I greeted the rest of the group as they came back from their day in boyscout canyon.
Devils Drain Canyon, Black Range, Lake Mead Nevada
The following day, we stopped at Arizona Hot springs before parting ways in a short but grateful visit with friends. Cindy Walck and Shane Fryer were kind enough to take me on their canoe down to Big Horn Canyon where I made my exit out and back to my car.

Bighorn Canyon exit, Black Range, Lake Mead Nevada

 Bighorn canyon is normally used at the canyon out for weeping spring canyon but this option worked out fantastic as it took me up a nice section of conglomerate lave narrow canyon and up into a series of hills where I was able to climb 2500ft of elevation back up to the rim and back to my car.


Bighorn Canyon exit, Black Range, Lake Mead Nevada
  I want to thank Andy and Bonny Armstrong for inviting me on the trip once again.



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