Emerald Cave | What to Know About This Popular Lake Mead Destination  

Date: December 15, 2021
Category: Things To Do

There’s much to do and see around Lake Mead. One of the trips worth taking is an exploration of Emerald Cave. It’s a natural attraction that draws many to it each year. For those who are visiting Lake Mead or the Las Vegas area overall, this is a stunning location worth a visit for many reasons. It’s less than an hour away and makes for the perfect day trip for those who love adventure and nature’s beauty. Here’s what you need to know about it.

Where Is Emerald Cave?

The Lake Mead Recreation Area is a large region that centers around the Colorado River. To learn how to get to Emerald Cave, it is important to have a good idea of the layout of the area. There are also sections of this recreation area that are along the Colorado River below the Hoover Dam. This area includes Black Canyon National Water Trail and the Black Canyon Wilderness.

When exploring this area, you will find the river has a number of tributary canyons and hot springs throughout it. Those who are on a kayak are able to explore the area best, including right into Emerald Cave. Emerald Cave is along the border of Arizona and Nevada, and it is worth the trip.

Why Is Emerald Cave Green?

If you are on a kayak tour of the cave, you will see it light up as you come upon it. A beautiful hue of green may feel like it is enveloping you as you move through it. The cavern’s yellow and brown rock walls contribute in part to the coloring. This, along with the southwestern sun, helps to create the stunning yellow color when bouncing off the clear water.

The water is also tinged green because of the algae that is present along the rocks and near the water. The sun casts a beautiful glow that helps to create a unique hue of light green at every turn.

Can You Swim There?

It is possible to swim at Emerald Cave. While kayaking through the cave, it’s possible to take a break and do some swimming. The experience can be revitalizing, but do make sure you don’t tire yourself out too much because kayaking out of the cave is still a significant trip. It’s also a great place to stop and take a few photos.

How to Get to Emerald Cave to Explore It

The most common way to explore Emerald Cave is along a kayak tour. There are various options available in the area. Most tours are in small groups of no more than 15 people. The group paddles up the river, usually with a guide along to provide information and inspiration. Most often, there are stops along the way for swimming or perhaps a few snacks.

The kayaking tour of this area of the Colorado River is rather easy and gentle. It does take some experience, most often, because of the length of the trip. Still, those with good swimming skills may find this well worth the adventure. The trip itself is usually around 4 to 5 miles round trip. There may be a short hike to get to the river as well.

No matter how you get there, keep in mind that the Colorado River is a flat, gentle river. Taking a kayak from Willow Beach is a good bet for many people. This provides direct access to the Lake Mead Recreation Area on the Arizona side. This beach is also just two miles from the cave itself, which makes it a bit easier to access than other entry points. It’s about a 4-mile paddle. Expect to spend between 4 and 6 hours to Emerald Cave and then back to the beach again.

Hoover Dam is another potential starting point for Emerald Cave. This is more of an adventure and a longer trip. This kayaking trip is as long as 12 miles. If you plan to use this option, it is a long, full-day adventure. This route takes kayakers along the Black Canyon Water Trail.

It’s also a bit longer because of the numerous side canyons and hot springs throughout it that you may want to explore along the route. This route can be exciting, but it is best left to those who have ample experience and who are prepared for the trip (and a full day on the water). Most people taking this trip will plan to take a shuttle back to Hoover Dam or your destination otherwise.

What to Expect and How to Plan for Your Trip

Take a look at a few common questions about visiting this area, including the cave and the recreation area around it.

Is it possible to kayak to Emerald Cave without a purchased tour?

Yes, it is possible to kayak on your own along this route. Keep in mind that the only way to get to the cave, though, is by boat. There is no walking path to reach it. You can canoe or use a motorized boat.

If you’re staying near Willow Beach, can you reach Emerald Cove?

Willow Beach is only about a few miles from the cave itself. You can kayak or use a small boat to get into the area. It is only a short kayak trip of about 4 hours to do so.

Should you bring your own kayak to Emerald Cave?

If you are visiting the area, you can bring your own kayak or canoe with you. If you do not have one, there are numerous areas where rentals are available. Keep in mind that the cave isn’t very large, so you want to limit the size of the overall boats or canoes used.

How large is Emerald Cave?

It’s not very large at all. In fact, consider this a very intimate experience. During peak season, it is likely you will need to wait once you arrive at the entrance of the cave. Only a few kayaks will fit into it at the same time. Still, it is worth the exploration when you consider how beautiful the interior is.

Are You Staying with Us?

If you are renting a houseboat at Callville Bay Resort & Marina, we encourage you to explore all that the region has to offer. Lake Mead can be a stunning destination, including Emerald Cave itself. Let our team offer guidance and support to you along the way and throughout your planning.