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Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Lake Mead National Recreation Area includes hiking and biking opportunities. Lake Mead has more than 700 miles of shoreline which makes for a startling contrast of desert and water, mountains and canyons, primitive backcountry, modern technology, and countless opportunities to explore.

picture of marina at lake mead nevada

About 96% of the water in Lake Mead is from melted snow that fell in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Wyoming. Lake Mead stores water from the Colorado River for delivery to homes and businesses in southern Nevada, Arizona, southern California and northern Mexico as well as farms.

Most visitors are attracted to Lake Mead and Lake Mohave in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area but more than 87% of the park protects a vast area of the eastern Mojave Desert. Remnants of an ancient city, petroglyphs, and other traces of prehistoric Native Americans are found in the area. Their rock art shows how they survived in this area years ago by what they ate and grew. Canyons and washes are plentiful offering a challenge to most hikers. The cooler months for hiking is from November through March and summer temperatures can reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit. The area generally has less than five inches of annual rainfall, and water temperatures can range from 45 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

Lake Mead and Lake Mohave have 290 square miles for boating, sailboats, houseboats, and fishing, so at times it can seem like you are alone on the water. There are many secluded coves formed by fingers of the desert that jut into the water. Many coves are bordered by sandy beaches. Arizona and Nevada share jurisdiction over both Lake Mead and Lake Mohave, so check with the marinas for fishing license specifics. The most popular fish in the lakes are the largemouth bass, rainbow trout, striped bass, channel catfish, black crappie and bluegill. Take a day trip or a weekend and visit Valley of Fire.

lake mead six tunnels picture

There are more than 1,000 desert bighorn sheep living in the recreation area. You may even observe some bighorn sheep walking along the rocky ledges in small groups to drink from the shores of Lake Mead. Bighorn sheep are one of the few desert animals that are active during the extreme heat of the day. Antelope ground squirrels, often confused with chipmunks, are more tolerant of the heat and may be seen scurrying around. Lizards, squirrels, jackrabbits and other animals usually come out only in the cool hours of the day.

So far, there have been more than 240 different kinds of birds recorded. This is due to the varied habitats and the fact that this is on a north-south migration route for many birds. Resident and migratory geese, ducks, egrets, herons, cormorants, and pelicans fish the waters of Lake Mead and Lake Mohave along with red-tailed hawks, ospreys, and golden eagles.

Snakes, spiders, and scorpions are more active after dark. Speckled rattlesnakes are common but not aggressive. Black widow spiders are shy and are most often found around man-made structures. Scorpion stings are no more harmful than a bee sting unless you are allergic. Most of the lizards and snakes in this region are very harmless, however there are two types of poisonous reptiles that live here - the rattlesnake (there are 5 kinds), and the Gila Monster.

The Hoover Dam spans between the steep walls of the Black Canyon. It took over 5,000 men working for five years to complete. Hoover Dam was the first major dam to span the Colorado River. You can walk or bicycle along the elevated railroad bed that was used to haul supplies and materials for the construction of Hoover Dam. Some desert hikes take you past sandstone formations. There are few maintained trails so careful planning is a must. Backcountry camping is allowed along the shores of the lakes in designated sites along unpaved backcountry roads. Swimming is allowed and the water is very clean but there are no lifeguards.

Jason's thoughts - A truly fantastic place for boating enthusiasts. Hundreds of thousands of acres of water, shoreline, spectacular views of surrounding city lights and mountain ranges, huge fully staffed marinas for support and boat rentals, restaurants, and live entertainment some times of the year at bars on the water. We enjoyed biking the surrounding hills on dirt roads and through the tunnels. Water is crystal clear and if you take the kids to the marina there are hundreds of giant 20 - 30 pound fish swimming all around begging for food you can throw to them.

Kelly's thoughts - I seriously had fun on the trails around the lake. I'm sure all months except summer are fun to explore. Because of the dry heat, you can really feel the life being sucked out of you during the summer months. I can't wait to explore the area at greater lengths in the future. The water around is such a beautiful color and clear and around the marina catfish are swimming all around and begging for food.

Travel Info - 10 miles southeast of Las Vegas. The park headquarters is at the intersection of Nevada Way and Wyoming Street in Boulder City. The Alan Bible Visitor Center for Lake Mead Recreation Area is four miles from Boulder City on U.S. 93 and has information, books, maps, and nautical charts. Park ranger stations also have information. The free park newspaper has maps, information and phone numbers about boating, fishing, hiking, camping, concessionaires, marinas, and more. You can find out about fees, weather, safety, and regulations. Click to see pictures and hiking information on Death Valley National Park after leaving Lake Mead recreational area.


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