With 8 to 10 million visitors a year, the Lake Mead National Recreation Area is one of the most popular parks in the United States. Lake Mead is located approximately 30 miles east of the city of Las Vegas. Visitors who come to Lake Mead, can engage in a wide variety of activities including boating, camping, hiking, swimming, water skiing, year-round fishing and other outdoor activities. While the current drought has effected some areas drastically, Lake Mead really has not changed that much. It has become even more interesting.
Lake Mead, was named after Dr. Elwood Mead, the U.S. Reclamation Commissioner between 1924 and 1936. The Lake Mead National Recreation Area was established on October 8, 1964.
Lake Mead is a huge reservoir impounded by the Hoover Dam. Over 1.5 million acres of land are dedicated to the Lake Mead NRA. When the Lake Mead is full, it has over 550 miles of shoreline and covers some 247 square miles. The water part of Lake Mead NRA consists of five basins, each with its own unique features. Within these basins Lake Mead can store up to 2 years average flow from the Colorado River. The water part of Lake Mead NRA only occupies less than 13% of the total area of the park. For many visitors there is a lot more to Lake Mead than just water sports. If you plan to travel to Lake Mead this year a great tip is to stay at the Hacienda Hotel and Casino which offers an amazing panorama of Lake Mead and is just one mile away from Hoover Dam.
Lake Mead is open year round for visitors to enjoy its many recreational opportunities, wildlife and many scenic wonders. There are several marinas located in the park that offer services such as boat slips, boat and house boat rentals. Within the park there are 8 campgrounds, a couple of motels and 5 RV campgrounds with hookups.
Lake Mead NRA is home to to desert animals such as the Bighorn sheep, Mule deer, Coyotes, the Kit Fox, Bobcats, Ringtail cats, the Desert Tortoise, a large variety of birds and various reptiles such as Chuckwalla lizards, an occasional Gila Monster and several kinds of rattle snakes.
The most impressive scenic drive is along the North Shore Road. Approximately 40 miles from Lake Mead Blvd to Overton Beach, this scenic tour takes you through unforgettable desert vistas and numerous photo opportunities. There are favorites like Rogers Springs which an artesian spring and Redstone which is a huge outcrop of the same red sandstone found in the Valley of Fire. Further along the way, there is Valley of Fire State Park, Echo Bay Marina and Callville Bay Marina.
A few miles past Overton Beach is the Lost City Museum with its exhibits of Virgin Anasazi remains. It has displays of a large number of Anasazi artifacts, ceramics and a reconstruction of a Virgin Anasazi pueblo.