Author Archive

Ask-A-Guide Series: Best Shows

Written By: Burton Miller (Blazin’ Paddles Tour Guide)

After a refreshing paddle on the river, one of the best ways to relax at the end of the day is by seeing a show. There are so many to choose from in Vegas, so here are some recommendations from the guides!

Lauren – Guide

The Beatles LOVE at The Mirage because the production is beautiful, and you can’t go wrong with classic Beatles songs!

Liz & Ryan – Office Manager & Owner

Absinthe at Caesars Palace. I love that there is no filter for the show. It’s awesomely raw, crude, vulgar, and racy humor. Great mixture of comedy and acrobatics. Keeps the crowd entertained from the beginning. Must see but it’s not for the easily offended!!

Dani – Head Guide

Out of the Vegas shows that I’ve seen, Zumanity by Cirque du Soleil was my favorite. It was beautifully done, and had a great comedic host.

Edgar – Assistant Guide

Carrot Top at the Luxor because it’s a small theater and he is hilarious!

Seth – Head Guide

The sunsets in spring, just because.

Best Places to Watch: McCarran Airport Runway Viewing or Stratosphere Tower

Burton – Assistant Guide

My favorite spectacle show is a tie between “O” by Cirque du Soleil and Le Reve. Both are very moving with the water and thrilling acrobatics. For concert residency, it’s Cher and Janet all the way!

5 ways to beat the heat in Las Vegas

Written By: Burton Miller (Blazin’ Paddles Tour Guide)

Visiting Vegas in the summer means snagging some of the best hotel deals of the year. It also means the hottest temperatures, often reaching in excess of 110 degrees. But don’t worry! Summer doesn’t slow the locals down and it shouldn’t slow you down, either. There are plenty of ways to beat the heat during your Vegas adventures.

Grab a cool treat

Getting your steps in for the day is easy in Las Vegas. There’s much to see and explore along the famous Las Vegas Strip and beyond. During the summer months especially, you’re going to want something cool to keep you company! For decadence, visit Milk Bar inside the Cosmopolitan and order chef Christina Tosi’s famous cereal milk ice cream. If you prefer a lesser-known spot that’s off the beaten path, pick up a frozen custard from Luv It near the Stratosphere Tower. For those who want a trusted favorite, Las Vegas has 6 Ben & Jerry’s locations, and 4 are right on the Strip!

Make a splash at a water park

Locals will tell you that much of the action in Las Vegas is not on the Strip. In fact, both of our world class water parks are on the outskirts of town! Wet‘n’Wild is in on the southwest side and has an amazing half pipe ride that is named after Hoover Dam. Cowabunga Bay is located in Henderson and has fireworks every Saturday night at the wave pool!  

Take a shopping break

Las Vegas has something for everyone when it comes to shopping, from high fashion to bargain bins. Fortunately, most of our malls are inside under the air conditioning! Looking for something luxurious and unforgettable for your vacation keepsake? Visit the Shops at Crystals or the Wynn Esplanade. The iconic indoor painted skies can be found at the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace and the Grand Canal Shoppes inside the Venetian. Deal hunters should head down to the Las Vegas South Premium Outlets. There is also a downtown location, but that’s outside.

Be entertained

People naturally plan to take in the sights during the day and then head to an evening show when they’re on vacation. In the summer, reverse that schedule! Take advantage of a matinee show while the outside temperature is the hottest, then take a walk at night under the neon lights when it drops 15-20 degrees. The most popular and well-known shows mostly don’t offer matinees, but there are plenty of magicians and comedy clubs with tickets at a fraction of the price. For a classic Las Vegas experience, see Legends in Concert, which has matinees on Thursdays and many Saturdays.

Kayak with Blazin’ Paddles

This is obviously our number one choice! What better way to beat the heat than kayaking and swimming in the Colorado River. Round trip transportation in our air conditioned buses is provided from the Strip and Downtown. Our full and half day tours include plenty of time on the water and on the beach all while enjoying the views of the scenic Black Canyon. Every guest gets a squirt gun in their kayak – don’t be afraid to use it!

Ask-A-Guide Series: Best Outdoor Activities

Written By: Burton Miller (Blazin’ Paddles Tour Guide)

One of the best parts about being a tour guide with Blazin’ Paddles is getting to work outside in a beautiful location. But even on our days off, you can usually find us outside again! Here are some of our favorite local outdoors activities to keep the energy high even after your tour ends.

Seth – Head Guide

I enjoy going mountain biking because of the amount of trails and how easy it is to get out of town and still be within minutes of the city. Oh and it is a good reason to fill up on burgers and beer afterwards!

 

Ryan – Owner

Well obviously my favorite activity is kayaking at all the amazing national recreation areas! But we also love to bring our dog and Blazin’ Paddles mascot Guinness to Red Rock for a hike up to First Creek.

 

 

 

Liz – Office Manager

Snowboarding up at Lee Canyon is the best! We have a short winter but it’s only an hour outside of Vegas so it’s very convenient

 

 

 

 

 

Burton – Assistant Guide

My favorite activity will always be hiking. There are seemingly unending trails near Las Vegas. My favorite local trail is Fortification Hill in the Lake Mead NRA. The geology is fascinating and the views of the lake are incredible. Go at sunset!

Edgar – Assistant Guide

The best is kayaking from the Hoover Dam to Willow Beach because I love the Colorado river. Check it out on the full-day tour.

Lauren – Guide

In the cooler months, I love to go hiking with my pups in Red Rock Canyon. When it’s hot enough to fry eggs on the pavement, we head out to Lake Mead to swim and SUP!

Dani – Guide

I live in Boulder City, and going out into the desert to explore is a lot of fun. It also helps that I can take my dog with me so he can run around like a knucklehead and have puppy playtime!

Interesting Historical Facts about the Gauging Station

Written By: Burton Miller (Blazin’ Paddles Tour Guide)

Every Blazin’ Paddles kayaking tour passes various points of interest along the Colorado River to enjoy the views and learn local history. One of those stops is the Gauging Station, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Here are some interesting facts so you can already be in-the-know for your next tour!

The station was completed in 1935

After Hoover Dam was built, a gauging station was needed to measure the flow of the river downstream. The site, which is just over two miles north of Willow Beach, was selected in 1931 by the United States Geological Survey and the Bureau of Reclamation. Construction started in 1934 and wrapped up in July, 1935 to ensure completion before the dedication of the dam on September 30, 1935.

Hydrographers lived on site

A hydrographer is someone that studies the physical features of water. Two engineers shared hydrography responsibilities and lived at the nearby homesite on the Arizona side from 1935 until October 1939 when a gauging station was built upstream closer to the dam. Their job was to measure various aspects of the water including flow, depth, temperature, and silt content. This data was crucial in fulfilling the primary purpose of the dam: flood control. Your Blazin’ Paddles tour will take you on a quick hike to the remains of the cabin. Look closely and you can see the old Model T at the beach below the site!

Precarious commute

In order to collect data the river gaugers, W.L. Heckler and W.E. Dail, would follow a trail a mile upstream, cross over a cove in a hand-operated cable car, follow a cliffside catwalk high above the water, and then complete the journey on another cable car that crossed the entire river to access the gauging station on the Nevada side. These impressive infrastructures are mostly still intact and you’ll see them on tour! 

The mystery of the second gauging station

Historical documents tell us that there was a second, downstream gauging station on the Nevada side with another accompanying cable car across the river. However, the second station no longer exists. Help us piece together history by looking for clues along the tour as to where the second station once was perched!

A fateful location

Between 1871 and 1874, a series of surveying journeys known as the Wheeler Expeditions set out with the ambitious goal of mapping the American frontier west of the 100th meridian. Accompanying Lt. George Wheeler was a young photographer named Timothy O’Sullivan who captured the first pictures of the west. In their upstream journey from Needles, California to Diamond Creek in the Grand Canyon they capsized near what would later be the site of the gauger’s house just before entering the Black Canyon. We enjoy calm conditions today but prior to the dams, the river was treacherous. Less than 300 photo negatives survived including this one of the ship wreckage and a crew member pondering the journey. It is believed to be the first ever photograph of the Black Canyon.

Photo and informational sources:

https://npgallery.nps.gov/NRHP/GetAsset/NRHP/86000587_text

https://www.flickr.com/photos/nationalregister/3617614366/in/photostream/

https://www.moma.org/artists/4363

The Ribbon of Green, Changes in Vegetation in the Southwestern United States

Ask-A-Guide Series: Best Strip & Downtown Restaurants

Written By: Burton Miller (Blazin’ Paddles Tour Guide)

All of the Blazin’ Paddles guides are locals who love to get out and enjoy everything that southern Nevada has to offer. That’s why on tour they are always ready to share a recommendation with you. This new blog series is all about our guides’ personal favorites in food and local activities. First up – best restaurants on the Strip or Downtown!

Ryan – Owner

Triple George Grill downtown. They have a fun speakeasy atmosphere with reasonably priced steaks.

Address: 201 N. 3rd Street, Las Vegas, NV 89101

Liz – Office Manager

Pizza Rock in DTLV. I just love a simple pepperoni pizza and their classic pepperoni pizza is the best! They also have all different styles of pizza, like Italian, Chicago and New York. Love the calamari there too. On the strip, Herringbone at the Aria Hotel and Casino is amazing as well. They grill their branzino to perfection and they have the most outstanding customer service!

Address: 201 N. 3rd Street, Las Vegas, NV 89101

Source: instagram.com/pizzarocklv

Lauren – Guide

At Vegenation in downtown Vegas the Buffalo Cauliflower wings are absolutely delicious. I love the atmosphere of the restaurant, and the diverse menu!

Address: 616 Carson Ave #120, Las Vegas, NV 89101

Seth – Guide

Changes often: I absolutely love the variety!

Dani – Guide

VegeNation, I am a vegetarian and love going here when we go Downtown for the night. The food is amazing, and the drinks are fun and different.

Address: 616 Carson Ave #120, Las Vegas, NV 89101

Source: instagram.com/vegenation

Burton – Assistant Guide

I am a bargain hunter and a pizza lover so my vote goes to Pin-Up Pizza at Planet Hollywood. For $9.50 you can get a huge slice of pizza, a soda, and a garlic knot. For $11.50 you can sub the soda for a beer. Honorable mention for dessert is Milk Bar in the Cosmopolitan. You can grab a unique ice cream treat and then go watch the fountains at Bellagio.

Edgar – Assistant Guide 

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. because it reminds me of Forrest Gump and I love shrimp.

Address: 3717 S. Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89109

 

Ten Things To Do in Vegas For $10 or Less

Written By: Burton Miller (Blazin’ Paddles Tour Guide)

Have some spare time on your Vegas vacation but need some options that are easy on the wallet? Check out these ten great options!

Pose as a Millionaire:

When you’re on Fremont Street, a little known gem is the free souvenir photo at Binion’s with a million dollars cash. The only catch: you have to wait 30 minutes to pick it up, which is the perfect amount of time to grab a drink or play a few penny slots.

Coke World:

After you take a ride in the Coke-bottle shaped glass elevator, for $10 you can indulge in a flight of international Coke-brand flavors like Fanta Apple-Kiwi from Thailand.

16 Tastes around the World from Coca Cola

Frankie’s Tiki Room:

Tucked away off the strip is the legendary Frankie’s Tiki Room. Step back in time to a kitschier bygone Vegas era and enjoy a signature cocktail creation under the string lights and fake palms. Tiki drinks are only $10! Tip: Bartenders are happy to mix up alcohol free versions!

Cupcake ATM:

Avoid excessive withdrawal fees and get what you really want after a long day: A DELICIOUS SNACK! Sprinkles Cupcake ATM at the LINQ Promenade is open 24/7.

Pick up a souvenir:

The Strip and Downtown are full of shops where you can find cheap T-shirts, sometimes 3 for $9.99!

Pinball Hall of Fame:

Did you know the World’s largest pinball machine collection is in Las Vegas? And the best part…you can play them! Ranging from $0.25 to $1.00 per game, you can get change for a $10 and play to your heart’s content at the Pinball Hall of Fame.

Shelby Heritage Center:

Just south of the Strip is the Shelby Heritage Center and it’s a must-visit for motorheads and American car buffs, offering free tours and a rotating exhibit of classics designed by Carroll Shelby and his team. Check the site for current cars and free tours!  

3/$10 Cocktails:

The best deal for drinks on the Strip is Ocean One at the Miracle Mile Shops in Planet Hollywood. Cocktails are always on a 3 for 1 special and the food is great, too. Cheers!

Akhob by James Turrell:

Modern art lovers and fans of the avant garde should make the time to experience Akhob by James Turrell. A prominent artist that emerged from the Light and Space movement in Los Angeles created his largest privately commissioned piece for Louis Vuitton in Las Vegas. Reservations are free but must be made in advance by phone.

Late Night Tacos:

The dispute about the best street tacos in Vegas remains unsettled. One thing is for sure: Tacos El Gordo near Circus Circus is a favorite for cheap late night eats, with the line often stretching down the block!  3 tacos and a drink clocks in under ten bucks, and they’re open until 4am on weekends.

Amazing Hikes to Complete Your Vegas Outdoor Adventure

Written By: Burton Miller (Blazin’ Paddles Tour Guide)

Guests come on tour with Blazin’ Paddles because they want to experience the other side of Vegas: the fresh air, mountains and wildlife. If your half or full day tour with Blazin’ Paddles leaves you wanting more outdoor adventures, these hikes are sure to deliver.

Desert conditions are extreme! Please be prepared for every hike with plenty of food and water,  research the trails in advance so you have adequate maps and navigation tools, and always practice Leave No Trace.

Black Mountain

Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area offers sweeping views of the entire Las Vegas valley, with the best being atop Black Mountain. The hike is accessed from the Shadow Canyon Trailhead in the Anthem neighborhood of Las Vegas and follows a paved path to a retention basin before heading up to the summit on Trail BLM404. The trail up Black Mountain is hot and exposed, but the rewards for those willing to brave the 5,093’ summit are endless. You will be treated to basalt rock volcanic lava flows, joshua tree forests, teddy-bear cholla cacti, and summit views of Nevada, California and Arizona.

Distance: 6.8 miles out and back
Difficulty: Strenuous
Pro-Tip: There is no shade so bring plenty of sun protection and do not attempt in summer

 

Bristlecone Trail

As tour guides, our guests often inquire about the seasons in the desert and are shocked to learn that we get fall colors! All you have to do is head up to higher elevations in the Spring Mountains. The Bristlecone Trail is a must-do for leaf-peepers or anyone wanting to escape the summer heat. After stopping at the Spring Mountains Visitor Gateway for maps and any last-minute essentials, you’ll enjoy a scenic drive through the mountains until you reach the Upper Bristlecone Trailhead. As the hike begins, you’ll catch views of Lee Canyon ski resort before hiking deeper into the woods of quaking aspens and ponderosa pines. At about 1.6 miles from the Upper Bristlecone Trailhead, you’ll reach an ancient forest of bristlecone pines and an amazing overlook of Lee Canyon.

Distance: 5.7 miles round trip, 3.2 miles to the overlook and back
Difficulty: Moderate
Pro-Tip: To make this trail a loop, you will complete the final leg by following the road back to the Upper Bristlecone Trailhead.

 

Ice Box Canyon

Many locals will say that one of their favorite hikes is Ice Box Canyon at Red Rock. To get to the trailhead, you’ll take the one-way scenic loop through Red Rock Canyon. Feel free to take your time and stop along the way to explore the world-famous Aztec sandstone, the High Point Overlook or the Petroglyph Panel. Once you reach the trailhead for Ice Box Canyon, you can use the provided restroom and then hit the trail. As you approach the canyon, you will be looking straight ahead at the impressive Spring Mountains. The trail leads through creosote and cactus shrub landscape and transitions into pinion pines and junipers as the canyon narrows. Once inside Ice Box Canyon, you’ll have fun bouldering until the trail that ends at a seasonal waterfall!

Distance: 2.3 miles out and back
Difficulty: Moderate
Pro-Tip: Bring an extra layer because it gets cooler inside the canyon

 

Photo Credit: www.redrockcanyonlv.org/ice-box-canyon

White Domes Loop

Valley of Fire is an easy 1-hour drive from Las Vegas and offers a much-appreciated escape from the crowds. The iconic Aztec sandstone found at Red Rock is also on full display at Valley of Fire, offering countless opportunities for exploration and photography. White Domes Loop is at the very north end of the park and has a few unique features making it a perfect hike for families. As the trail alternates between sand, gravel, and boulders, you will pass beautiful rock formations of both red and white sandstone. You’ll also stumble upon a crumbling building which was actually an old movie set from the 1966 film The Professionals starring Burt Reynolds and Claudia Cardinale. Next you’ll hike through a wash that takes you into a slot canyon!

Distance: 1.1 mile loop
Difficulty: Easy
Pro-Tip: Also hit the quick 0.4 mile hike to Mouse’s Tank for petroglyphs

5 things you didn’t know about Boulder City

Written by: Burton Miller (Blazin’ Paddles Tour Guide)

Famous Guests Have Stayed at the Hotel

The Boulder Dam Hotel is a historic and charming colonial revival style inn built in 1933. Over the years it has seen many famous guests. Classic Hollywood stars loved retreating to the quiet Boulder Dam Hotel for leisure and lodging while filming. Notable celebrity visitors have been Bette Davis, Shirley Temple, Henry Fonda and Will Rogers. Influential business people have also spent the night including Mr. and Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt, George Pepperdine (founder of Pepperdine University) and Howard Hughes after his plane crash at Lake Mead in 1946. The hotel has seen political and world leaders including senator Robert Taft and Pope Pius XII when he was still Cardinal.

Staying Cool at the Movie Theater

The movie theater on Arizona Street was the first air conditioned building in town. Dam workers and families would pay admission – regardless of the movie – just to cool off! In the 1990’s the movie theater, still in operation at the time, was forced to shut its doors due to competition from the more technologically advanced theaters in Henderson and Las Vegas. At risk of falling into total disrepair, the empty theater was purchased in 1997 by Desi Arnaz, Jr. and renovated into a dance studio and performance hall.

The Big “BC”

If your Blazin’ Paddles tour passes through Boulder City, chance are we’ll point out the big BC painted on the side of the hill. This ironically doesn’t stand for Boulder City. It’s for Bootleg Canyon. Since Boulder City was a federal reservation, there was no alcohol or gambling allowed, even after federal prohibition ended in 1933. They wanted the federal workmen fully focused on their task of constructing Hoover Dam. Even after the dam was completed, BC was federally regulated until it was chartered as it’s own city in 1960 and the prohibition was later repealed in 1969.

Bighorn Sheep Love Boulder City

On the river we are always on the lookout for the Desert Bighorn Sheep. It is not uncommon to see at least one sheep on tour, as they visit the river to drink water in the hotter months when there is no water elsewhere or when rain is scarce. However, Hemenway Park in Boulder City is home to an entire herd of sheep! They spend hours at the park keeping cool in the shade of the trees and eating the grass. The herd at Hemenway Park is a big draw for wildlife lovers, just make sure to keep a safe distance and do not disturb them while watching or taking pictures.

So Long, Boulder City

For film buffs, Boulder City plays an important role in the Oscar-winning La La Land. Emma Stone’s character Mia Dolan grew up in Boulder City, and in the film she creates and performs a one-woman show called So Long, Boulder City. Her character’s love of film started because her aunt worked at the library and she would walk there as a child to watch classics. “Del Prado Library” in the movie is not a real library, but Del Prado is a real housing development in Boulder City. Nothing was actually filmed in Boulder City but director Damien Chazelle chose it for the story because he liked the name and it was feasible that Mia could drive there within a day from Los Angeles.

 

Blazin’ Paddles Equipment

We choose to guide our guests down the River in Wilderness Systems touring kayaks because of their spacious cockpit and stability. It’s an ideal kayak for day-trips with watertight hatches to store cameras, snacks, lunches and personal gear. These boats are perfect for the kind of flat water you will encounter in the Black Canyon.

equiptment

Touring Kayaks

There are many different types of kayaks. Blazin’ Paddles uses touring kayaks because they track well, have a good turning radius, and fair initial stability. Initial stability concerns how stable the kayak is at rest – in other words, how easy it is to get in and out of the boat. Initial stability also determines how comfortable you will feel during low-motion activities like wildlife watching or during a water fight! Secondary stability is concerned with how stable the boat is while underway. Touring kayaks have a high secondary stability. Our kayaks also have foot pegs. Footrests allow you to use torso rotation to effectively paddle the kayak.

Unlike whitewater kayaks that require a snug fit, touring kayaks have a looser fit in the cockpit to allow for greater comfort and larger paddlers. Also, we don’t use cockpit skirts because we only really need them during water fights! The overall volume of a boat is important if you want to take a lot of gear. However, we choose longer kayaks simply because the longer the kayak is, the faster and more efficient it will be. We want you to spend your energy having fun, not wrestling with the boat!

Our kayaks are made of the heaviest of the popular materials, polyethylene (HDPE#2). This makes them more resistant to damage. Also, polyethylene is easily recycled again after its useful life.

Rudder or no Rudder?

Now for the great touring kayak debate: rudder or no rudder? We have paddled both ways. You are not really supposed to use the rudders to steer. Rudders are mainly used to help you track better in a crosswind. Currently, we have decided not to use rudders to make it simpler for the vast majority of guests. We will continue to monitor this and depending on customer feedback, we may add back rudders to the kayaks used on the full-day tour. Finally we have chosen to use the extremely lightweight Aqua Bound Stingray carbon-fiber hybrid paddles. You will love how light and efficient these are.

The models of Wilderness System Touring Kayaks we use are:

• Focus 155
• Tsunami 175
• Polaris 180T

We encourage you to book a tour and come experience easy river kayaking for yourself!

Black Canyon Wildlife

The Black Canyon of the Colorado River is one of the best places to see wildlife in the Las Vegas area. You can see bald eagles, bighorn sheep, large reptiles and even the elusive mountain lion if you’re lucky!

wildlife

Desert Treasures

Recently we’ve been seeing a lot of bighorn sheep, but they blend so well into the desert, they are even hard to see in our pictures! The desert tortoise is Nevada’s state reptile, also tough to see and they can live up to 50 years old.

Iguanas and lizards are very common and not too difficult to see since they are active all day. The desert iguana can grow up to 14” long and appears dark brown or light tan depending on the time of day. The Gila monster is extremely rare and is one of only two venomous lizards in the world. I’ve only ever seen one and that, unromantically, was in the middle of the road! It’s difficult to comprehend what it is when you finally see one and you think that it’s too fat to be a lizard and too short to be a snake, so what is it?

Snakes?!

The one type of wildlife nobody ever seems to want to see are the snakes. There are four types of rattlesnakes in the Black Canyon area and all are to be considered dangerous. Rattlesnake venom is very toxic, so as with all wildlife, we like to view them from a safe distance. Any bite requires immediate evacuation and this includes bites from baby rattlesnakes!

snake

The king snake is one of the most readily identified non-venomous snakes in the Black Canyon area. It’s quite large at up to 42 inches and has a thick body. It’s easily identified by its pattern of black or dark brown rings alternating with white or cream colored rings along its entire body.

Black Canyon Birds

Our guests are often surprised by the number of bald eagles we see. In addition, we have several species of owls in the Black Canyon area as well as hummingbirds and several species of ducks including common mergansers and grebes. The riparian landscape along the river provides an excellent feeding ground for insect-eating birds.

In the river you’ll find a variety of fish including largemouth bass, striped bass, black crappie, bluegill and channel catfish.

So no matter what time of day (or night) you visit Black Canyon, you’re almost certain to see a variety of interesting wildlife that make up a special and unique desert kayak experience to remember.

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