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The Arizona Backwaters

Trip Overview

We started our trip at Fisher's Landing, AZ. There is a general store and small marina there, along with an RV park. You can park for free on a dirt lot. We unloaded at the boat ramp there and floated about a 1/2 mile downstream. On the AZ side, there is a buoy that indicates the entry way for the AZ Backwaters. These are a series of channels that lead to shallow lakes adjacent to the Colorado River. The channels were originally cut so that the bass fisherman can have access to these lakes. The section we were on is about 8 miles long. It is Section 10 of the Colorado River Boating Trail Guide. The channels right now are clear in some spots and choked with vegetation in others. Only the stretch of canal between the last two lakes has recently been manually cleaned-out of vegetation. I recommend that you wear paddle gloves and break your paddle down in half to get through the clogged stretches. If you are not into physical activity, then this is probably not the trip for you! But it is absolutely beautiful. Don’t bring Hobies or canoes on this trip. The Hobie fins get stuck in the weeds and mud, and the channels have so many tight S turns that a canoe would not make it. A short hard shell kayak is best at 12’ or under. You will pass through two tunnels of weeds during this stretch. Keep in mind that the second-to-last lake on the stretch we were in has two exits. The exit on the right leads to two dead-ends. You can tell that you took this one if the current is not strong and the water smells swampy. The exit on the left is really hard to find and you can only go forward into it. It has a stronger current running through it. We exited at the Colorado River right across from the channel that leads to Imperial Dam Reservoir and Squaw Lake. Our campground was at Squaw Lake and we had left a car there so we could take the drivers back to Fisher's Landing and get the other cars.
  • Duration: Day Trip
  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking
  • Skill Level: Intermediate, Advanced
  • Water Type: Flat/Sheltered Water, River/Creek (Up to Class II)
  • Portage Description: No portaging
Wear a life jacket. The tunnels have some strong current and it is a 8 mile trip. Not recommended for beginners. Do not get out of the boat without checking if you are floating over quicksand.
Only bring hard shell kayaks under 12' Wear paddle gloves You need a hat and sunblock You need to break your paddle in half to get through some places
Channels are frequently choked with vegetation. Tight S curves in some places.

Locations on this Trip