Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Grapevine Canyon Hike, Laughlin, NV

Over Thanksgiving weekend we took a trip to Bullhead City, AZ to see some more Nu Wa 5th wheel trailers. I'm loving the Nu Wa Hitchhiker Discover America 345 LKWTB. This could be our next home!

Next day we went for a hike in Grapevine Canyon. About 6 miles West of Laughlin, NV off Hwy 163; take the Christmas Tree Pass dirt road a couple of miles North to the signed parking area for Grapevine Canyon.
Click on photo to enlarge and see lots of Petroglyphs!
Everything I had read about this canyon focused on the petroglyphs. And boy, there were a LOT of petroglyphs! Hundreds were clearly visible at the mouth of the canyon. Surprisingly, I had read very little about the canyon beyond the petroglyphs…because it was spectacular! The canyon was populated with boulders as big as houses, sandstone spires and lava ridges all around. This canyon would probably be difficult when the water was running and you wouldn't want to be in it if there was a threat of flash flooding. But at the end of November on a clear, cool, sunny day when the stream bed was virtually dry, the conditions were perfect.

We headed up canyon probably about two miles before we decided we could go no further. There was a fairly well used trail to follow which sometimes had to skirt the stream bed due to masses of dead grapevines. Sometimes we scrambled over large boulders. Always we had fabulous views of amazing rock formations and occasionally we were in a position to see for miles out to the Laughlin/Bullhead City valley. Being in remote desert canyons we were on the lookout for big horn sheep but only saw birds, rabbits and other small rodents. There were many trees scattered throughout the hike in the canyon bed and clusters of barrel cactus growing in the lava ridges.

The best part of the hike was the snaking, grapevine-like slot canyon about a mile into the trail. This slot canyon went a good quarter mile with smooth, curving walls, getting narrower with each turn. You could easily imagine the water rushing, banking and churning through those curves in a flash flood. At the narrowest point in order to get out of the slot we had to crab-walk up the sides, thankful for our super-grippy hiking shoes.

We decided to turn around when the canyon ended at some near vertical rock walls that rose at least 50 feet above us. We could have scaled the rock walls with our hiking shoes, but getting back down would have been very scary if we were unable to find another route down.
This was a fantastic hike that we highly recommend when conditions are dry but cold. You could easily add on more miles of interesting terrain.