Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Activities & Programs

Lake Mead National Recreation Area offers a variety of recreational activities on land and water—along with a host of sights to see.


Since Lake Mead and Lake Mohave cover a massive 290 square miles, recreational boaters can enjoy lots of space without feeling hemmed in. Sailboats, fishing vessels and houseboats regularly make use of the area, exploring sights such as the gorge of Iceberg Canyon near Gregg Basin, Black Canyon in Lake Mohave, and numerous secluded coves. There are even sandy beaches where visitors can picnic or camp.

Marinas and Tours

Concessioners operate a number of marinas along the lake—offering boating services, rentals and supplies for 12 months of the year. There are free public launch ramps and parking areas; however, parking is limited to seven days per stay. Concessioners offer a number of tours, including paddlewheel vessels and raft trips. Check the free park newspaper, Desert Lake View, for updates and details.


Some of the nation's finest sport fishing can be found at Lake Mead and Lake Mohave. The waters are populated with largemouth bass, rainbow trout, channel catfish, black crappie, and bluegills—among others. Striped bass is a particularly popular catch in Lake Mead, and rainbow trout in Lake Mohave.

Arizona and Nevada share jurisdiction over both Lake Mead and Lake Mohave. If you wish to fish from shore you must have a state fishing license from the applicable state, along with a special-use stamp from the other state (these are available from most marinas.) Anglers should familiarize themselves with catch limits and legal methods of capture.


Swimming, snorkeling and diving are popular water sports in both Lake Mead and Lake Mohave—since both lakes have waters that are sparkling clean and clear. Spring, summer and fall tend to be the prime seasons. Realize, however, that Lake Mead NRA has no lifeguards, so visitors need to swim at their own risk. Never swim alone.


Hikers can witness many natural wonders in the desert—including the colorful sandstone formations near Redstone Picnic Area that are not visible by car or boat. There are few maintained trails, however, so hiking usually requires cross-country travel. For longer hikes, it's critical to carry plenty of water and plan very carefully. Rangers are available for both consultation and certain guided hikes.


Backcountry camping is permissible along the lake's shoreline, as well as in designated sites along unpaved country roads. There may be limits to the time campers can stay in either of these spots. Specific details are available at ranger stations.


A drive through the Lake Mead environs offers a chance to see some unforgettable scenery. There are a number of paved roads in the area, winding through mountains, desert basins and canyons. Lakeshore Scenic Drive and Northshore Road affords views of the blue lake silhouetted against the rich, majestic mountains. Northshore Road also lets visitors glimpse brilliant red boulders and rock formations. One of the world's foremost Joshua Tree forests can be seen along the road to Pearce Ferry. Visitors should be aware that the Lake Mead region includes many unpaved road in remote areas; it is highly recommended that you check road conditions before traveling these particular routes. Bring along plenty of water, both for drinking and for serving your car if needed (automobile tools should be taken along as well.) Drive only on paved roads or unpaved roads signed with yel- low arrows. 

Historic Sites

History buffs can find structures that reflect the Lake Mead area's Mormon population, logging and ranching background, plus evidence of the homesteading, rock mining and milling that provided for people's livelihoods. Along with information detailing the construction of the Hoover Dam, there is much to see relating to irrigation ditches and the management of water and power in the Southwest. There are also sawmills, log buildings, ranches, gauging stations and railroad tunnels sprinkled throughout the park area. Many of these sites are listed on the National Register of Historic places. (Visitors are not permitted to remove or damage any cultural artifacts, since they are protected by federal law.)


Callville Bay, Las Vegas Bay, Willow Beach, Boulder Beach, Cottonwood Cove and Katharine Landing all offer shaded picnic areas—complete with grills, tables, water and restrooms. Spots at Temple Bar, South Arizona Telephone Cove, and Princess Cove—plus areas along Northshore Road, including one at Rogers Spring—have certain facilities, but no drinking water.