Lake Mead National Recreation Area is located in the Southwestern United States, straddling the borders of Nevada and Arizona. Specifically, it is north of the Colorado River between the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas. Over 90% of the 200,000 acre area is covered by water. Lake Mead is a manmade phenomenon created by the Hoover Dam and supplied by the Colorado River.
Formerly named for the Boulder Dam, this was the first nationally designated recreation area in the country. It is an oasis in the desert for wildlife and humans alike. There are over 500 animal species that can be found on the property, including desert bighorn sheep, mountain lions, bats, hummingbirds, an assortment of owls, rattlesnakes and Gila monsters.
Most of the eight million annual visitors to the Lake Mead NRA find themselves in one of four general areas. They are (body of water / corresponding landmark):
• Boulder Basin / Boulder Beach
• Lake Mohave / Cottonwood Cove
• Overton Arm / Echo Bay
• Gregg Basin / South Cove
If you want to explore some of the desert around Lake Mead, check out a hiking trail! There are many available, including the Grapevine Canyon Trail which leads to ancient petroglyphs. If you’ve got your smart phone with you, you can also take the Lake Mead NRA “Selfie Scavenger Hunt.” Find all ten of the parks scavenger destinations and record your adventure as you go!
Camping and hiking are popular pastimes but, clearly, the water is the main attraction here. Nearly every form of water activity is permissible. Visitors may kayak, canoe, fish, swim, jet ski and boat on Lake Mead, Lake Mohave and their smaller subsections. Hosting over 290 square miles of water surface, this NRA can keep you busy for quite some time. (For those wishing to spend all of that time on the water, houseboats are available to rent and can be taken to nearly every part of the lakes.)
One of the most popular destinations within the boundaries of the park is the Black Canyon Water Trail. Recognized as an official National Water Trail, this is a great place to enjoy some quiet in your own canoe or kayak.
Other popular destinations in the park include the Hoover Dam, Arizona Hot Spring trail, River Mountains Loop Trail, the Jimbilnan Wilderness, and the narrow Virgin Canyon (at the base of the Hiller Mountains).
The Lake Mead NRA is only an hour from the Las Vegas Strip and makes a perfect complement to the bright lights and splendor of Sin City.