Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Nevada Destinations

Nov 12

Lake Mead is located on the Colorado River, approximately 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas, in the States of Nevada and Arizona. The many marinas and coves can be accessed from North Shore Road, Lake Shore Road, and Highway 93 in Nevada, and several roads in Arizona. Many of the more secluded coves do not have road access, you can reach them only by boat.

Lake Mead was formed when Hoover Dam was built in the 1930's, and the forming of Lake Mead meant the end to a small town in Overton,  St. Thomas was a thriving community settled by Mormon Pioneers.

Lake Mead is the perfect destination for recreational adventures. Boating, fishing, jet skiing, hiking, kayaking stand up paddle boarding, swimming, and more are available at numerous coves and beaches.

Lake Mead Interesting Facts:

  • Visited by approximately 8 Million people per year
  • Is the largest National Recreation Area in the country
  • Was the FIRST National Recreation Area in the country.
  • Is the 5th most visited recreation area in the country
  • Visitation is equal to total visitors to Grand Canyon and Yosemite COMBINED!
  • 900 plant species and 500 animal species
  • Convergence of three of the four North American Deserts
  • 25 threatened or endangered species
  • Nine wilderness areas (185,000 acres)
  • 1.8 million years of geological occurrences
  • 10,000 years of human presence

History: Lake Mead is the largest reservoir in the United States and was formed by the impounding of the Colorado River when Hoover Dam was built. It extends 112 miles behind the dam, and holds 28,500,000 acre feet of water. It was named after Elwood Mead (1858–1936), who was the commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation from 1924 to 1936 during the planning and construction of the Boulder Canyon Project that created the dam and lake.

Lake Mead was first known as the Boulder Dam Recreation Area starting in 1936, under the administration of the National Park Service. In 1964, it was established as Lake Mead National Recreation Area, and added Lake Mohave and Shivwits Plateau to its jurisdiction. It was the first National Recreation Area in the country.

Pre History: The one and a half million acres that make up the Lake Mead National Recreation Area were occupied by many groups of people prior to the building of Hoover Dam, including early Desert Native Americans, explorers, pioneers searching for cheap land and religious freedom, and prospectors seeking their fortunes.

Archeologist Mark R Harrington and Paleontologist James Thurston discovered remains of large mammals in a cave near the present day Lake Mead, including ground sloths, horses, camels, and mountain sheep. Mark R. Harrington's excavations included the Lost City, Gypsum Cave, and Tule Springs and were considered pioneering pieces of work. The Lost City Museum in Overton, NV offers visitors the chance to learn more about the excavations and the history of Moapa Valley and Lake Mead.

Present Day Lake Mead: Millions of visitors come to Lake Mead to enjoy the varied recreational activities available, including swimming, boating, watersports, fishing, hiking, camping, and more.

There are currently Fee Stations at Boulder Beach, East Lake Mead Blvd., Lake Mead Parkway, Cottonwood Cove, Temple Bar and Katherine Landing. and on the north end, just outside the Valley of Fire State Park..

LAUNCH RAMPS: There are several launch ramps on Lake Mead, and because of the fluctuating water levels, it's a good idea to check current conditions while planning your trip. Click here for current conditions and alerts.

Visit the National Park Service Lake Mead Website for more information about marinas, services, maps, things to do, and more