Mike Smalls’ paddle digs softly into the water, propelling him quietly along as ducks forage and fish take flight here and there. This is his first time in a kayak, but you wouldn’t know it. It’s almost as though the serene surroundings bring out a natural confidence.
Smalls joins the group brought here to Lake Mead by Boulder City-based Desert Adventures to enjoy the water on a perfect February day, proof that kayaking in Southern Nevada is popular all year long — and that popularity is growing. Last year, Black Canyon became a National Water Trail, the first such Department of Interior designation. Paddle sports continue to evolve, and Desert Adventures owner Izzy Collett notes the emergence of all sorts of water sports, including stand-up paddling, kayak fishing, and riverboarding.
“When I first moved here in 1996, there were no paddle shops around, and no retail stores anywhere that carried kayaking gear,” Collett says. “Now the Vegas Valley has several big-name sporting goods stores that carry entry-level paddling gear, and multiple outfitters and rental shops near the water that carry specialty kayaks, paddles and gear. Our local paddling Meetup group has more than 1,000 members.” Proof that in the desert, fun on the water is an all-season sport.