Recreation Opportunities Abound at Manmade Lake Near Las Vegas
Just minutes from “The Entertainment Capital of the World,” visitors find entertainment of another kind. Hoover Dam’s Lake Mead offers all sorts of fun on the water.
Lake Mead, the largest man-made lake and reservoir in the U. S., has been around for only about 75 years. It was originally the part of the Colorado River that was widened with the construction of Hoover Dam, so shares its shores with the state of Arizona
The lake, about a half hour’s drive southeast of Las Vegas, is also one of southern Nevada’s favorite recreation spots. About 110 miles long and one to eight miles wide, Mead’s shoreline measures more than 550 miles, with beaches that include both long stretches of sand as well as secluded coves. Campgrounds, RV sites with full hookups, and stores are near Boulder Beach, Callville Bay, Echo Bay and Overton Beach.
Lake Mead’s Points of Interest and Popular Activities
Most of the points of interest around the lake are named for their physical characteristics or the creatures that inhabit them. Among them are Burro Point, a spot frequented by wild burros and bighorn sheep. The first Mormon temple in Arizona was built on a site now known as Temple Rock. While the Gorge is a favorite with all boaters, wedding couples time their vows for sunset at Kingman Wash.
Other popular Mead Lake diversions include picnics on the beach; fishing for bass, sunfish and crappies; water skiing: wakeboarding, and riding personal watercraft. Sightseeing tours on a paddle boat called the Desert Princess, with Mid-Day $24), Brunch ($39) and Dinner ($49) cruises are also available.
Houseboating on Lake Mead
Although the lake can be subjected to wind and five- to six-foot waves on occasion, it’s a popular spot for houseboat vacations. Houseboat rental operations are located at Lake Mead Marina and Callville Bay Marina, on the same arm of the lake as Hoover Dam and Temple Bar Marina on the lake’s southeast shore.
The boats, some of which have sleeping accommodations for up to a dozen people, range in price from $750 a day for boats that sleep six during value season to luxury models with whirlpool spas, state-of-the-art kitchens, and six bedrooms for $1,671 a day in the peak season (with a five-day minimum). Favorite places for houseboaters to tie up include Boxcar and Icebox coves.
Mojave Desert Hiking
Although most of the action at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area is on the water, 87 percent of the park is occupied by a vast area of the eastern Mojave Desert. The best way to explore this area is on foot and the best season for hiking is from November through March. Daytime hiking in summer is not advised because temperatures can get as high as 125 degrees. There are few trails and hikers should not go out alone or without at least a half-gallon of water per person.
The River Mountains Loop Trail is approximately 35 miles in length and surrounds the River Mountains, connecting Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Hoover Dam, Henderson, Boulder City, and the rest of the Las Vegas Valley.