Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Lake Mead National Recreation Area (NRA) offers a wealth of things to do and places to go year-round. Its huge lakes cater to boaters, swimmers, sunbathers, and fishermen while its desert rewards hikers, wildlife photographers, and roadside sightseers. Three of America's four desert ecosystems--the Mojave, the Great Basin, and the Sonoran Deserts--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. The reservoir created by the damming of the Colorado River became Lake Mead, named after Elwood Mead, the Bureau of Reclamation commissioner at the time. The newly formed lake drew thousands of visitors to this wondrous contrast of desert and water. Lake Mead National Recreation Area became the first national recreation area in 1964. Today, millions of visitors each year come to enjoy the many recreational opportunities found within the park's diverse landscape.
Boating and water skiing are favorite activities on the broad expanses of open water, along with kayaking and canoeing.
Although a desert region, more than 240 different kinds of birds have thus far been recorded. This is due to the varied habitats available, and the fact that Lake Mead NRA is on a north-south migration route for many birds. Some common birds include the American coot, black-tailed gnatcatcher, burrowing owl, common merganser, mallard western grebe, rock wren, least sandpiper, western tanager, barn owl, great horned owl, yellow headed blackbird, and hummingbirds.
Lake Mead NRA has several dirt trails and miles of approved backcountry roads accessible to mountain bikes. Please remember that bicycles are subject to the same traffic rules as automobiles on established public roads. Please use extreme caution when bicycling on park roads as some areas have low visibility, no shoulder and are steep with windy turns.
Approved backcountry roads are marked with a yellow arrow sign with a number on it. Please stay on the roads to protect fragile desert soils.
It is always a good idea to carry plenty of water, cycle with a friend, and let someone know your itinerary.
Several paved roads wind through the dramatic desert scenery of Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Towering stark mountains, plateaus, desert basins of cacti and creosote bush, and vertical-walled canyons are some of the sights motorists can discover.
From Lakeshore Road and Northshore road you can see panoramic views of blue Lake Mead set against a background of colorful rugged mountains. Northshore Road leads through areas of brilliant red boulders and rock formations. The Pearce Ferry Road crosses one of the world's finest Joshua-tree forests. Unpaved approved backcountry roads penetrate remote regions.
Lake Mead National Recreation Area's campgrounds are open year-round and offer restrooms, running water, dump stations, grills, picnic tables and shade. RVs, trailers and tents are welcome. Concessioner campgrounds, including recreational vehicle hook-ups, are also available within the park.
Lakes Mead and Mohave offer some of the country's best sport fishing. Largemouth bass, striped bass, channel catfish, crappie, and bluegill are found in both lakes Mead and Mohave. Rainbow trout can be found in Lake Mohave. Fishermen go for the big trout at Willow Beach, while Cottonwood Cove and Katherine offer great bass fishing. Lake Mead has become famous for its striped bass with an occasional catch weighing in at over 40 pounds. Fishing for striped and largemouth bass is good throughout Lake Mead with crappie, blue gill, green sunfish, and catfish being more prevalent in the upper Overton Arm of the lake.
To fish within the states of Nevada or Arizona, you must carry with you a valid fishing license. If your license is for Arizona, and you plan to fish from a boat or other craft on lakes Mead and Mohave, or on the shoreline of Nevada, then you must have a "use stamp" from Nevada (and vice-versa).
Although most visitors are attracted to Lake Mead National Recreation Area because of lakes Mead and Mohave, more than 87% of the park protects a vast area of the eastern Mojave Desert. Perhaps the best way to explore this diverse ecosystem is on foot, traveling across open expanses of rock formations that contain all the colors of the rainbow.
Canyons and washes abound, offering a challenge to even the most experienced hiker. The best season for hiking is November through March when temperatures are cooler. Hiking during the day time in the summer months is not recommended because temperatures can reach 120 degrees F in the shade. Ranger-guided hikes are offered year round, with those in the summer months being held in the evenings.
Horses may be ridden throughout the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Stop by the Lake Mead Visitor Center for suggestions on places to take your horse.
Hunting and trapping are permitted in designated areas of Lake Mead National Recreation Area and is regulated by state game agencies. Park rangers and state game wardens enforce game regulations. See park hunting maps for designated hunting areas. Be sure to review state hunting regulations for seasons and ensure you possess the appropriate hunting licenses.
There are shaded picnic areas with tables, water, fire grills and restrooms are located throughout the park. Please be sure to clean up all of your litter and keep the park clean. Picnicking is also welcome on all the beaches but you may want to bring your own shade.
Swimming is a popular activity at lake mead. There are scuba diving opportunities for both beginners and advanced divers at Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Water skiing is also popular.
Lake Mead National Recreation Area supports an amazingly diverse selection of animals. Under cover of evening's darkness, and in the shady places of canyons and brush, are thriving animal communities. Animals living here have evolved traits that help them cope with the extreme environment. Animals found here include desert bighorn sheep, bats, and several types of lizards and reptiles, including snakes, desert tortoise, and gila monster.
Lake Mead National Recreation Area is known for its mild winters, hot summers and spectacular scenery. In summer sunbathers, boaters and water skiers may experience temperatures 110 degrees F and above. The area generally has less than five inches of annual rainfall. Water temperatures may range from 45 degrees F to 85 degrees F.
Southern Nevada Agency Partnership (SNAP) is a partnership of stewardship professionals from the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the USDA Forest Service who work together to coordinate the protection, conservation and use of the public lands of Southern Nevada.
Forever Resorts operates the Lake Mead RV Village with a total of 115 sites, complete with hookups. The area has a convenience store and gift shop located in the main building. There are four shaded BBQ picnic areas as well as two horseshoe rings. The company also operates marinas at Temple Bar, Callville Bay and Cottonwood cove. Houseboats are available for rentals.(702) 293-2540
Lake Mead NRA is approximately 25 miles east of Las Vegas, Nevada. The Lake Mead Visitor Center is located off of U.S. 93, four miles southeast of Boulder City. There are 9 paved accesses into Lake Mead.
Lake Mead NRA is approximately 25 miles from McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. Other communities bordering and near Lake Mead NRA have smaller airports.
There is no public transportation to Lake Mead, although tour buses operate from many Las Vegas resorts and attractions.