This post documents our two stays at Willow Beach Campground from December 15 to December 29, 2021 and January 16, 2022 to January 23, 2022.
With breathtaking views of the Colorado River and Black Canyon, towering red rock formations, a marina with boat rentals, a fish hatchery, 28 spacious full hookup concrete pad sites, friendly camp hosts and entertaining wildlife, Willow Beach Campground & RV Park quickly became one of our favorite campgrounds in 2017. To read about our 2017 adventures at Willow Beach, check out these posts (Willow Beach & Beyond and Cruisin’ On The Colorado).
To say we were excited to be returning was an understatement.
We would actually be staying here on two separate occasions – a two week stay beginning on December 15th followed by a week long stay beginning on January 16th. In between those two visits, we had an awesome adventure but more about that later.
Leaving behind our very windy site at Vista Del Sol, it would be close to a two hour drive on AZ-68E and US-93N. Have I mentioned the amazing Arizona scenery lately? Any conversation we tried to have was drowned out by the constant oohs and aahs uttered by the two of us! Especially, the mountain pass between Kingman and Bullhead city and US-93 as we approached Willow Beach.
Situated in the Black Canyon region of the Colorado River and part of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, the campground is located on the east side of the Colorado River in AZ, approximately 13 river miles downstream from Hoover Dam. Even though it is part of the National Park Service, the campground (and the marina) is run by a concessionaire, Forever Resorts. Note that there is a $20 entrance fee to visit Lake Mead National Recreation Area which covers all passengers in the vehicle valid for 7 consecutive days. That fee is waived if you have the a National Park Senior Pass.
Be aware if you go, that there is no cell service at the campground. We would drive the 4 miles up out of the canyon for limited access, or make the run to Boulder City about 30 minutes away if we needed to make an important call. However, there is WiFi available to registered campers, you receive a voucher or vouchers for one device that is good for the length of your stay. If you have multiple devices you can purchase a plan from a third party provider (not affiliated with the campground) that supports additional devices, however we found that service to be unreliable and the support worse than abysmal. Instead we used our router as the designated device and had service on all our network devices anyway. WiFi may also be available for free to visitors to the Restaurant/Store/Rental Shop/Registration Office located at the Marina.
Just after exiting AZ93 is the entrance station where fees are collected, but on this particular day, no one was manning the booth, so we proceeded along the somewhat rough, twisty (and steep!) road to the campground. Beginning at 1883 feet elevation, over its 4.2 miles, the access road would descend 1237 feet, about a 6% average grade! The registration office on the river shore is located at an elevation of 646 feet.
To get a sense of what that drive was like, take a look at this video. Note our speed was about 15mph, to shorten the length of the video we sped most of it up to four times the normal speed so it looks like we are driving 60 mph down the canyon road.
After checking in at the registration office, we made our way to our campsite. We didn’t realize when we made our reservation that we booked the same site we stayed on in 2017.
Rob was able to capture some phenomenal photos of the moon.
Listening to the weather report that evening, here is what was in the forecast for the following day. Willow Beach is about 25 miles south of Boulder City where the high would only be 33º! In East Greenwich, RI, the high for the same day was 65º! So why did we leave New England???
Boating Excursion on December 20, 2021
Keep that temperature in mind because several days later, we would rent a boat at the marina and would once again be cruisin’ the Colorado! We reserved a 17′ Campion powerboat with a 60hp outboard for the day. We had to be at the dock by 8:00 a.m. and return the boat by 3:00 p.m. Due to the water levels, we were not allowed to head north towards Hoover Dam.
It turned out to be a pretty day but when we left the temperature was in the low 40’s, pretty cold on land but add in a breeze on the water and it was quite chilly! In the sun, it was comfortable. But despite the sun, on our return trip, we were hit with a north wind and combined with the shadows from the canyon walls, plunged into the cold again.
Offroading on Kingman Wash Access Road on December 27, 2021
Our next adventure took us from the water to a backcountry road off Highway 93, just south of Hoover Dam. Kingman Wash Road is a maintained 3.6 mile dirt road that traverses over hills and down washes through the wild backcountry of Lake Mead National Recreation Area to the colorful paint pots area and Paint Cove located along the shore of Lake Mead.
Check out our video of the drive!
Campground Stay From January 16, 2022 – January 23, 2022
As mentioned earlier, we had an awesome adventure between our stays at Willow Beach but we’ll cover that in the next few posts. On January 16th, we returned to the campground with plans to stay until the 20th. Site A6 wasn’t available for these dates so we reserved pull thru site C6.
During our week long stay, we drove to Boulder City, one of our favorite towns, where we walked around the historic district following the Boulder City walking tour, eventually bumping into the historic Boulder City Dam Hotel & Museum.
According to their website, “in addition to its 21 individually appointed guest rooms, the hotel houses the Boulder City Hoover Dam Museum — telling the story of the men and women who braved the desolation of the southern Nevada desert to build Hoover Dam and establish Boulder City.” What a great museum! And even better, it was free! Not sure why we had never visited here before but for anyone visiting here it is definitely worth a visit! There is also a restaurant inside the hotel but we have never eaten there so we can’t provide an opinion on the food. See more photos of both the town and the museum here.
On our way back to Willow Beach, we drove through some of the nearby neighborhoods, stopping at Hemenway Park. This park offers a playground, gazebos, basketball courts, horseshoe pits, softball field and tennis courts. But we weren’t there for any of that, we were there to watch a herd of big horned sheep mow the lawn! So cool!
And of course, no visit to Willow Beach is complete without a visit to Hoover Dam (see our previous post) and a walk across the Pat Tillman and Mike O’Callaghan Bridge (see our previous post). Although we have visited here a number of times, we never tire of visiting these two engineering marvels.
On the day we were supposed to leave, bad weather (possible snow) was in the forecast so we decided to extend our stay for a few more days. The camp host had a cancellation on an ADA site so she let us move to back-in site B01 for the weekend.
Before our departure, a visit to the fish hatchery was a must just to see if anything had changed. Nope, everything pretty much looked the same.
Additional photos of our stay at Willow Beach can be viewed here.
We did a lot during both of these stays but more about that later!