Lake Mead National Recreation Area

August 9, 2010, 10:46 am

The centerpieces of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area are its two large reservoirs: Lake Mead and Lake Mohave. Three of America's four desert ecosystems — the Mojave desert, the Great Basin desert, and the Sonoran Desert — meet in Lake Mead NRA. As a result, this seemingly barren area contains a surprising variety of plants and animals, some of which may be found nowhere else in the world.

Lake Mead is the largest reservoir in the United States, located on the Colorado River about 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas, Nevada, in the states of Nevada and Arizona. Formed by water impounded by the Hoover Dam, it extends 112 miles behind the dam, holding approximately 9.28 trillion gallons of water. The lake was named after Elwood Mead, who was the commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation from 1924 to 1936 during the planning and construction of the Boulder Canyon Project that created the dam and lake.

Before the existence of Lake Mead, Lake Mohave, and Hoover Dam, the area encompassing the one and a half million acres of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area was occupied by early desert Indian cultures, adventurous explorers, ambitious pioneers looking for cheap land and religious freedom, and prospectors seeking riches.

Today, with the broad expanses of open water,  offers year-round recreational opportunities including boating, swimming, fishing and hiking.  It is also home to thousands of desert plants and animals, adapted to survive in an extreme place where rain is scarce and temperatures soar. Kayaking and canoeing provide access to the many hidden coves in the area, including the beautiful Black Canyon.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area supports an amazingingly diverse selection of animals including the Desert Bighorn Sheep, the Collared Lizard and the Spotted Bat. Animals living here have evolved traits that help them cope with the extreme environment. Most adaptations center around avoiding heat, conserving water and surviving on a meager food supply.

And the best part about Lake Mead? It continually draws visitors to its good weather. Lake Mead Recreation Area is open year-round, 24 hours, 7 days a week. The area generally has less than five inches of annual rainfall. Water temperatures may range from 45 degrees F. to 85 degrees F. at different times of the year.

Before the existence of Lake Mead, Lake Mohave, and Hoover Dam, the area encompassing the one and a half million acres of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area was occupied by early desert Indian cultures, adventurous explorers, ambitious pioneers looking for cheap land and religious freedom, and prospectors seeking riches.

Today, with the broad expanses of open water, Lake Mead NRA offers year-round recreational opportunities including boating, swimming, fishing and hiking.  It is also home to thousands of desert plants and animals, adapted to survive in an extreme place where rain is scarce and temperatures soar. Kayaking and canoeing provide access to the many hidden coves in the area, including the beautiful Black Canyon.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area supports an amazingingly diverse selection of animals including the Desert Bighorn Sheep, the Collared Lizard and the Spotted Bat. Animals living here have evolved traits that help them cope with the extreme environment. Most adaptations center around avoiding heat, conserving water and surviving on a meager food supply.

And the best part about Lake Mead? It continually draws visitors to its good weather. Lake Mead Recreation Area is open year-round, 24 hours, 7 days a week. The area generally has less than five inches of annual rainfall. Water temperatures may range from 45 degrees F. to 85 degrees F. at different times of the year.