For a unique tour of the Hoover Dam
and Black Canyon, visit The Willow
Springs Marina, the "gateway to Lake Mohave," and sign up for a motorized
rafting tour that launches below Hoover Dam and ends at Willow Beach
will get a rarely seen view of the massive dam and explore the surrounding Black
Canyon ecosystem, including a dip in the natural thermal springs. Rent a kayak
or canoe at Willow Beach Marina, then take
a shuttle up to the dam and navigate your way back to Willow Beach. Permits
are required to launch personal paddle craft below Hoover Dam.
Hopeful anglers can bait their hooks to lure the coveted largemouth and striped bass,
which can weigh in at up to 40 pounds. A variety of other fish are fair game
with a standard fishing license, including carp, channel catfish and bluegill.
Fishing licensing gets a bit tricky because the lakes are divided by the Arizona/Nevada
state line; you will need a license from either state and a use stamp from the
other. A trout stamp is required for trout fishing.
Those preferring to stay on dry land also have plenty of activities to choose from.
Hikers can explore the eastern Mojave Desert ecosystem, which comprises 87% of the park, and observe some of the 900 plant species and 500 animal species that
inhabit the area.
At first glance, desert plant life may seem sparse and unremarkable, with the exception
of the months of spring when the desert flowers bloom. But considering the conditions that these valiant plants survive, (temperatures as high as 120 degrees and
a scant 6 inches of annual rainfall) you might begin to view them as fascinating
Animals take shelter from the midday sun by scurrying under bushes and lingering
wherever they can find shade, so don’t plan on seeing much animal life until dusk
or in the dawning hours. However, Desert Bighorn Sheep, Nevada’s state animal, love to roam the rocky hills around Lake Mead throughout the day. While these
species have adapted to high desert temperatures and very little precipitation,
keep in mind that the human species has not. Remember to drink plenty of water,
wear a hat and sunscreen and watch for signs of heat exhaustion among your mates.
Extreme hikers and bikers can find challenging trails in the 185,000
acres of backcountry of the nine protected wilderness areas of the Lake Mead NRA. The most popular maintained trail is the Historic Railroad Trail
, an easier hike that waves through old railroad caves.
Stay on protected trails marked with yellow signs reminding visitors that the area
can be explored by "human power only," a rule that helps to preserve the natural
More leisurely cyclists can spend the day pedaling away with friends on the considerably
less strenuous River Mountain Loop Trail
. The 35-mile paved loop circles River Mountain and connects Lake Mead
National Recreation Area, Hoover Dam, Boulder City, Henderson and the rest of the
Las Vegas Valley. Most of the trail offers three paths: one for casual cyclists
and hikers, another for serious mountain bikers and an equestrian trail for horseback
riders. The Lake Mead NRA portion of the loop runs closely alongside of Lakeshore Road from the Visitors Center to the Equestrian Trailhead and offers spectacular views of the crystal blue Lake Mead.
Lodging & Dining
Lake Mead NRA is perfect for day trips out of Las Vegas,
but if you decide to stay overnight within the park, camping and houseboat rentals
are available year-round. Grocery shopping is available in nearby Boulder City, and snack bars and restaurants are available at most of the marinas.
Lake Mead NRA is open year-round, 24 hours, 7 days a week. Some beaches and
other areas are day-use and accessible only from dawn until dusk. The Lake
Mead Visitor Center
is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. every day except Thanksgiving,
Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Entrance passes for Lake Mead recreation area are sold for a one- to seven-day period, or
as an annual pass. Fees are set by vehicle or motorcycle, vessel (boats) or individuals
(hikers, cyclists, etc.) Lake Mead NRA is accessible with a Senior Federal
Lands Pass, Access Federal Lands Pass and the Federal Interagency pass.