On a lazy summer morning in July, a small group of canoeists paddled down the Carson River.
Starting below the Lahontan Dam, they paddled effortlessly along a 5-mile course with some parts shaded by the tall trees and bushes that provided shelter from the sun and searing heat.
For 7-year-old Haley Butler of Silver Springs, floating down the Carson River with a paddle in hand was the best way to spend the morning and to get wet.
“It was awesome, the swing part,” oohed Haley after the two canoes beached at short less than 300 yards from Diversion Dam, which channels water into several canals to transport water to Churchill County’s thirsty fields. “It was hot and nice to get wet.”
Along the route, a swing attached to ropes and swaying in the wind entices travelers along the Carson River to become a little more adventurous. Haley had no fear.
“She jumped off the rope swing for a little swim, and she paddled a little bit,” said her father Robert Butler, a former ranger with the Nevada State Parks Division.
During the late summer, rangers from the state parks division take groups down the Carson River at least three to four times. Although the reservoir’s level keeps releasing water for the farmers in the valley, rangers, nevertheless, pointed to the abundance of water flowing in the river.
“No matter how much water is in the lake, the river is consistently flowing,” said Brad Larkin, an instructor and state park ranger at Lahontan.
Robert Butler, though, said both he and his dauther wanted to enjoy the two-hour trip down the Carson River, a trip he has made several times before.
The launching points has seen some modest improvements during the past several years. Larkin said River Park makes a good starting point for boaters, and the Youth Conservation Corps made and placed concrete steps from the road to the river’s edge.
Rangers have been conducting canoe trips for the past five years, and this year’s schedule of four Saturdays filled quickly.
“They always do,” Larkin insisted, adding that a long standby list exists for the remaining three Saturdays.
Larkin, like the other rangers, is not surprised the list fills quickly with canoeists who want to navigate the Carson River.
“We get people of all skill levels,” Larkin said. “Even the more advanced like being on the river and having fun.”
Prior to the 14-foot fiberglass canoes leaving shore, Larkin and his staff offer the boaters an overview beginning first with the basics, paddle strokes, balance and the navigation of the river.
Although visitors come primarily for the canoe trip, Larkin likes to brag about the history of the park and the reservoir.