Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Drought Effects - Muddy River
photo shows the Overton Arm as it was on January 22, 2000. This view is
directly towards Overton
Beach and was
taken from the front
of Mormon Mesa which is on the east side of the Overton Arm and
separates it from the Virgin River Basin.
The Muddy River normally flows unseen into the Overton Arm at the north
end of Lake Mead NRA. It starts in an artesian well about 30 to 40 miles
upstream - depending on the level of Lake Mead! - and winds its way
through the Moapa Valley.
On its way it passes through the small Southern Nevada cities of
Glendale, Logandale and Overton.
Before Hoover Dam flooded the Lake Mead reservoir, the Muddy River used
to flow into the Virgin River. From there, the Virgin River flowed into
the Colorado River.
The town of St. Thomas
Nevada used to flourish along
the banks of the Muddy River. When Lake Mead was created, St. Thomas
became a victim of is flood waters. Except for 2 prior occasions, St.
Thomas Nevada has been under water since Lake Mead was filled.
Now as an effect of the drought the area where St.
Thomas existed has been
exposed. In June 2003, Lake Mead had receded to the point where the
Muddy River once again flowed past St. Thomas.
This photo was taken at the very
point that the Muddy River flowed into the Overton Arm in June 2003.
The water from the Muddy flowed through these giant cracks under what
used to be the Overton Arm. This area would have been approximately
70-75 feet under water.
These amazing cracks are over a meter deep. The water from the Muddy
River flows through the bottom 30-35 centimeters of these cracks into
Lake Mead in the distance above.
As Lake Mead recedes the sediments that were once deposited by the Muddy
River become these little mud crack platforms that are barely dry at the
top and shift with your weight as you try to walk on them. This is a
skill which we had to flirt with as there was no other place to walk.
Invasion and shoreline plants immediately force their onto the newly
This results in a very dense plant cover in almost all the areas that
are uncovered from the water.
This photo is looking towards Overton
Beach which can be seen as a
tiny lens of blue in the top center just above the remnants of Overton