Your Guide to Lake Mead National Recreation Area

From houseboat and watercraft rentals to fishing and swimming, North America’s largest manmade reservoir offers many ways to appreciate its peaceful desert beauty, all just a skip away from Las Vegas RV Resort.

Open Hours and Entrance Fees

Lake Mead National Recreation Area offers year-round relaxation with its radiant blue waters, striking landscapes, and rugged mountains. Boaters, swimmers, and sunbathers will delight in Lake Mead while the surrounding desert offers hikers, wildlife photographers, and roadside sightseers an opportunity to see three out of America’s four desert ecosystems. There is an exceptional collection of specially adapted plants and animals in this unique environment.

The park has some picnic areas being open only from dawn until dusk. Entrance fees can be paid at fee stations; an annual pass may also be purchased to save on per-person entrance fees.

Visitor centers are typically open from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM daily (with exceptions on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Days), and Lake Mead National Recreation Area provides guided hikes and public presentations at their visitor center.

Best Time of Year to Visit

If you’re planning to hike, bike, or camp at Lake Mead National Recreation Area, spring or fall will be optimal times for outdoor activities. High temperatures in summer tend to limit people from exerting themselves outdoors; hiking trails may even close down for public safety concerns during this season.

A leisurely drive along Northshore Road offers another fun activity year-round, particularly during the winter months, passing scenic overlooks and historic landmarks.

Visitor Center and Tour Options

Start your Lake Mead adventure off right by visiting the Lake Mead Visitor Center, where park rangers can assist in planning an incredible visit. There is also an impressive gift shop operated by Western National Parks Association where you’ll find books about the park and region; books about Native American arts, jewelry and crafts, posters, outerwear, and maps as well as souvenirs.

As you drive along Northshore Road, passing historic landmarks and scenic viewpoints along its route, you can experience Lake Mead for yourself on your own tour. Spring or fall brings wildflowers and hiking trails, while winter brings breathtaking sunsets over snow-capped peaks.

Best Places to Hike

Hikers should explore the park’s Railroad Tunnel Trail, which leads through five mountains that were once traversed by train locomotives. At Alan Bible Botanical Garden, visitors can learn more about its local flora and fauna with over 40 different desert plant species on display.

No matter your fitness level, the National Recreation Area offers trails suitable for every fitness goal. Starting at the visitor center, park rangers will give an overview of the area as well as suggest trails to fit your preferences.

The Railroad Tunnels Trail offers a moderately challenging hike that rewards its trekkers with stunning views of Boulder Basin, while Gold Strike Hot Springs Trail promises scenic walking through natural hot springs at its end.

Best Place for Water Activities

Visitors will discover an astonishing mix of desert and water, from towering mountains and canyons, to primitive backcountry, and busy marinas. Additionally, several paved roads provide access to this dramatic desert scenery and stunning Lake Mead views.

Boating, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding and water skiing are among the many exciting recreational activities on Lake Mead. Additionally, hiking trails, scenic drives and camping opportunities abound at this beautiful body of water.

Lake Mead may seem like an idyllic swimming destination, but there are risks. Continuous efforts are made to reduce pollution levels, preserve a wide range of fish species and mitigate any possible hazards. So it is crucial that swimmers adhere to established safety guidelines and stay informed.

Best Place to Fish

Lake Mead is not only popular with boating enthusiasts; it is also considered one of Nevada’s premier fishing lakes. Striped bass, rainbow trout and catfish are among the most frequently caught fish here. In addition, you may also come across crappie in its Overton Arm.

At Lake Mead, fishing from both boat and shore can be done while respecting private property and following posted signs. Also, keep an eye out for fluctuating water levels caused by drought conditions or invasive species like quagga mussels. To minimize risks during your fishing experience, use a Lake Mead fishing guide for optimal success.

Best Places to Launch a Boat

Lake Mead’s expansive shorelines and crystal blue waters make it an oasis for water sports, hiking and camping enthusiasts. Additionally, Lake Mead is home to Hoover Dam – America’s most powerful dam – among many other attractions.

As the water levels at our nation’s largest reservoir continue to recede, the National Park Service must strike a balance between protecting archaeological discoveries while providing access for motorized boaters. That balance has already proved challenging as five marina boat launch ramps at Temple Bar, Echo Bay, Hemenway Harbor, Callville Bay, and South Cove must remain accessible for continued operation.

Save money when visiting Nevada’s desert backcountry by purchasing an America the Beautiful annual national park pass and purchasing entrance fees upfront. Be sure to visit Lake Mead’s website regularly for updates and closures before planning a visit!