Eldorado Canyon is a good choice for a day trip destination when visiting Las Vegas, because it is only about 45 minutes south on Highway 95. Going south of Boulder City, this highway parallels the Colorado River and there are a few side roads that go to beaches along the shoreline that only the boaters seem to know about. State Road 164 is a paved side road that runs from Highway 95 all the way through Eldorado Canyon to Lake Mojave, so as can be imagined, a scenic drive down this road is as picturesque as can be!
Eldorado Canyon is the home of the largest and oldest gold strike in southern Nevada and gold prospecting is what this canyon is most famous for. Prospecting has been going on in this canyon since the mid 1850s. This area has been pretty well picked clean, as can easily be gathered when looking at all the abandoned mining equipment at the old historic Techatticup Mine Ghost Town site, which sits about midway down the canyon. In the old mining area, there are bands of rock strata that just look like they would be the perfect place to find gold, so it must have been quite a sight for the first prospector to see!
For those who want to do an all day excursion at Eldorado Canyon, the Techatticup Ghost Town is the place to go, because this business offers everything from mine tours to canoe rentals and horseback rides. Doing some canoeing on Lake Mojave certainly is a cool activity, especially on a hot summer afternoon!
When first starting to go downhill into Eldorado Canyon, the landscape changes from a desolate desert terrain with rolling hills to the most inhospitable looking mountains that can be imagined. The views of the jagged mountain peaks where the Colorado River runs through seemingly stretch out to the horizon. It is all too easy to stand there and think that it would be impossible to survive in this place, because the views of this region are so intimidating. As a reminder, this is the reality of the desert, so it is best to pack plenty of water for the ride and use a good map when taking on the dirt trails.
Hoodoos are a desert phenomenon that occur in dry washes and canyons in this region and there are many picturesque hoodoos that can be seen in Eldorado Canyon when approaching Lake Mojave. In this section, the canyon narrows to a deep gorge, so some canyoneering can be done here as well. The hoodoos are fascinating to see and they are very photogenic. Taking a photo of the Eldorado Canyon hoodoos does make for more than just memories, because every once in a while one of the tall rock spires do topple over. Evidence of old fallen hoodoos can be seen in this section of Eldorado Canyon, so this goes to show that hoodoos are only a temporary fixture in this landscape.
At the end of the paved road, there is a scenic overlook next to Lake Mojave and the views of the deep blue water are fascinating to see. All around is the seemingly lifeless desert and the sun bleached mountains, while the life giving blue water of the Colorado River runs through. The sight of this setting is stunning to see, especially after driving through the rugged inhospitable Eldorado Canyon!
There is a dirt road by the shoreline that goes to the canyon floor and there is a little beach by the lake. There are a few shade trees here, so this is a perfect little waterside spot to laze the afternoon away with a fishing bobber floating in the water. Splashing in the water must be done with care, because this section of the Colorado River does contain deadly brain eating parasites. If I recall correctly, ear plugs or nose plugs are a preventative measure that should be heeded, in order to have a safe swim.
By the lakeside there are prospector dirt roads that go up into the heart of the canyon and some go south along the river, so those who have a 4×4 will be in luck. Panning for gold in areas where no stake has been claimed is also a pastime near the beach in Eldorado Canyon, but this activity is not suggested, because mercury was used to leach the gold from the ore at the old mine site. Mercury coated specs of gold will turn up in nearly every sample, but this is like a bad curse. Removing the mercury by burning it off is a deadly health hazard and it does not help the environment either, so it is best to just fiddle around with panning in this area and not get too serious about it. Once again, always research active claims in the area, before breaking out the shovel!
Recommending Eldorado Canyon for a day trip is easy to do, because this majestic place offers plenty of interesting geology and history to experience! There are plenty fun daytime activities at Techatticup and Lake Mojave sure is a refreshing sight to see when the outdoor temperatures are in the triple digits! Doing the drive to Eldorado Canyon definitely is a great escape from the big city and the desolate nature of the desert will provide plenty of much sought after peace and quiet. This is reason enough to get up and go!
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