Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Topock Gorge Tour, 11/14/2015

Today we had the opportunity to see the beautiful Topock Gorge, a mountainous canyon and gorge section of the Colorado River between Lake Havasu City and I-40 in western Arizona. Earlier in the week we made reservations with the BlueWater Jetboat Tours for their 2.5 hour narrated-tour. The tour left at 1:30 pm from the Bridgewater Channel north of the London Bridge. We called to make our reservations (928.855.7171) and purchased our boarding passes at the building near the Havasu Landing Ferry around 1 pm on the day of the tour.

We traveled north on Lake Havasu to the Colorado River on Starship 2010, the jet boat. The state boundaries of California (west) and Arizona (east) are defined by the lake and river here. To the west are the Chemehuevei Mountains as shown below. 

Lake Havasu is, on average, 38' deep, but as we traveled north, the entrance to the Colorado River is only 9' deep and boaters must follow the channel markers as there are many shifting sand bars. The views of the shore are gorgeous. We always enjoy being on the water!

Before the Colorado River was controlled by a series of dams, flooding was a frequent occurrence. The huge rocks shown below were sometimes totally submerged when steamboats travelled these waters.

This rock formation is known as Scorpion Rock.

Our tour guide enabled us to get great excellent of Picture Rock where 3,000 year old petroglyphs can be found. They were created by the Mohave tribe that frequented this part of the Colorado River. There are over 100 images found here. From the boat I could only make out a few of the larger images, but my camera picked up much more detail. 

This sand dune was once a large sand bar when steamboats travelled on this part of the river. A steamboat was "stuck" on this sandbar (or one nearby at the time) for a record 52 days! The Colorado River could be very treacherous during those times. Even though we have seen many petroglyphs in our travels, I always find them fascinating. 

Next we entered Devil's Elbow where the river turns sharply to the east and then north. Many impressive rock formations can be seen in this part of the gorge.

There are many beaches and coves where boaters pull in to enjoy the beauty of the area. The primary attraction at Topock Gorge is boating, including kayaks, canoes, pontoons, and motor boats of all kinds. 

We spent some time on the stern deck enjoying the high rugged spires and sheer cliffs. This area is part of the 44,000 acre Havasu National Wildlife Refuge managed by the US Fish & Wildlife Service.

The white coloration on the cliff rocks in the photo below is an indication of how high the river would flood (these are 30') prior to the building of the dams on the Colorado River. 

This rock is known as Star Gazer Rock as it looks like an image of a Native American looking toward the sky. If his "eye" appears open, you will have safe passage. Can you see it on the upper left part of the photo? If you look very closely, his eye does appear to be open for us. Phew!

Looking into this cove are two Balanced Rock formations. 

This rock formation is known as the Sleeping Indian Rock. Again, the profile is in the rock in the upper left portion of the photo.

As we made the return trip downstream of Lake Havasu, we saw lots of waterfowl on sandbars and in the coves. 

The tour continued under the London Bridge in the Bridgewater Channel and then returned to the dock near the Lake Havasu Landing Ferry. We highly recommend BlueWater Jetboat Tours if you are interested in this type of experience. Their vessel, Starship 2010, was perfect for the tour. It has 12 VIP seats (+$5/each) that are very comfortable (arm rests/swivel seats); is super clean; has an accessible stern deck if you want to be outside; has a head (bathroom); and sells water, soft drinks, and snacks. 

The guys who own and run this operation were great. They are very knowledgeable about the history, wildlife, geology, etc., of the area. 

We left the dock at around 1:30 pm and returned around 4 pm as planned. We very much enjoyed seeing Topock Gorge and the beautiful Colorado River. It is a must-see if you are in the area for any period of time.

The cost of the tour is $45/adults; $42/seniors (age 60+); and $25/children (ages 6-12). As I mentioned earlier, the VIP seats must be reserved in advance and cost an additional $5 each.

Website: www.coloradoriverjetboattours.com

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