DIRECTIONS: Access off Interstate 15 in Nevada; U.S. Highways 93 and 95 in Nevada and Arizona. To Park: air to Las Vegas (25 miles from Lake Mead NRA), air to Bullhead City, AZ (10 miles from Lake Mead NRA on Lake Mohave); personal vehicle, tour bus. In Park: personal vehicle, tour bus. State roads lead to major sites. Several established hiking trails. Substantail number of approved backcountry roads.
AREA and HISTORY: Established October 8, 1964. Lake Mead National Recreation Area (NRA) offers a wealth of things to do and places to go year-round. With 1.5 million acres, it is twice the size of Rhode Island. 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.
Lake Mead NRA is home to bighorn sheep, mule deer, coyotes, kit foxes, bobcats, ringtail cats, desert tortoise, numerous lizards and snakes, and a wealth of bird species. Threatened and endangered species such as the desert tortoise and peregrine falcon are found here, as well as ancient Colorado River fish species.
A long geological history can be seen from the 1.8-billion year-old gneiss of Black Canyon to the lava flows capping Fortification Hill formed about 6 million years ago during the last Ice Age.
A good place to start your visit is the Alan Bible Visitor Center, four miles northeast of Boulder City, Nevada on U.S. 93. The park staff can help plan your stay and give you up-to-date information on park activities and services. Exhibits, books, brochures, and topographical maps and nautical charts are available. An outdoor botanical garden displays some of the area's interesting desert trees, shrubs, and cactuses.
CLIMATE, RECOMMENDED CLOTHING: Sturdy shoes, brimmed hats, sunscreen recommended year- round.
SCENIC DRIVES: Several paved roads wind through the dramatic desert scenery of Lake Mead country. Towering, stark mountains, plateaus, desert basins of cactuses and creosote bush, and vertical-walled canyons are some of the sights motorists can discover. **Driving off designated roads is not permitted. Drive only on paved roads or on unpaved roads that are marked with approved road signs (yellow arrows).
TOURS: One popular tour follows the Lakeshore and Northshore Scenic Drives along the edge of Lake Mead. From these roads there are panoramic views of the blue lake set against a backdrop of the browns, blacks, red, and grays of the desert mountains. Northshore Scenic Drive also leads through areas of brilliant red boulders and rock formations.
PICNICING: Shaded picnic areas with tables, water, fire grills, and restrooms are located at Callville Bay, Las Vegas Bay, Boulder Beach, Cottonwood Cove, and Katherine. There are also picnic areas along Northshore Road, including one at Rogers Spring; these do not have drinking water.
RESERVATIONS/PERMITS: Reservations are accepted only for group campsites. Individual sites are all on a first-come, first-served basis. No backcountry permits are needed.
HIKING: Short desert hikes lead to places you will never see from a boat or car. One such place is the area of colorful sandstone formations near Redstone Picnic Area along Northshore Road. Another is a canyon where Indian petroglyphs were carved in a rock wall hundreds of years ago. Hiking in the recreation area almost always requires crosscountry travel; few maintained trails exist.
The best hiking months are October through May. You can explore on your own during this time, or with park naturalists, who lead hikes on weekends. Longer hikes demand careful planning; consult a topographical map and a park ranger. Let someone know where you are going and when you will return. Rangers will have a difficult time finding you if you get lost in this expanse and they don't know where to begin looking. Always carry water; one gallon per day per person is advised. Long crosscountry hikes are discouraged from June through September, when the desert heats up like a furnace.
WATERSPORTS: With Lakes Mead and Mohave as the central focus, visitors to Lake Mead National Recreation Area may enjoy a variety of water recreation activities in a setting of rugged mountains, desert washes, sheer cliffs, colorful soils and rock formations, and the ever-changing blues of the lakes.
Boating of all kinds is popular within Lake Mead NRA. Waterskiing is a favorite activity on the broad expanses of open water, along with kayaking and canoeing. Increasing numbers of sailboats and sailboards are seen because of the dependable desert winds, and personal watercraft use is gaining popularity. Of course, swimming is a major form of water recreation during summer months when lake temperatures warm into the 80-degree range. Both lakes are clear, clean and also ideal for snorkeling and Scuba diving. No lifeguards are present. Never swim alone.
FISHING: Lakes Mead and Mohave offer some of the country's best sport fishing. Largemouth bass, striped bass, rainbow trout, channel catfish, crappie and bluegill are found in both lakes.
VISITOR IMPACTS: Biggest weekends for visitor use are Memorial Day, July 4, and Labor Day weekends.
Lake Mead NRA , 601 Nevada Highway, Boulder City, Nevada 89005
(702) 293-8907 Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. Voice mail after hours.
OPERATING HOURS, SEASONS:
Open year-round, 24 hours, 7 days a week. Visitor center: 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.; and 8:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
FEES, COSTS, RATES:
No admission fee to enter the park area.
FACILITIES AND OPPORTUNITIES:
Alan Bible Visitor Center off U.S. Highway 93 near Boulder City. Contact stations on Lake Mead at Overton Beach, Echo Bay, Callville Bay, Las Vegas Bay in Nevada, and Temple Bar in Arizona. Contact stations on Lake Mohave at Cottonwood Cove in Nevada, Katherine and Willow Beach in Arizona.
State roads lead to major sites. Several established hiking trails. Substantial number of approved backcountry roads.
Winter lecture series, ranger-led programs and hikes, paddle- wheel tour boat ride to Hoover Dam, Black Canyon raft trip.
LODGING AND CAMPING FACILITIES:
Eight campgrounds, five motels, six RV campgrounds with hookups.
Concession-run stores at major sites. Other Concessions/NPS-Managed Visitor Facilities and .pportunities:
Bookstore located in Alan Bible Visitor Center managed by Southwest Parks and Monuments Association.
Most services available at major sites:
marine and boat rentals
restaurants, cafes and snack bars
accommodations (five locations)
service station and fuel
groceries and souvenirs
fishing equipment and tackle
RV campgrounds with hookups (six locations)
Paddle-wheel tour boat to Hoover Dam
Black Canyon raft