protected area in Clark County, Nevada and Mohave County, Arizona in the United States

Lake Mead National Recreation Area is a United States national recreation area (NRA) in southern Nevada along the northern border of Arizona.

Lake Mead seen from Highway 93

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Lake Mead NRA contains two large lakes, Lakes Mead and Lake Mohave, which are reservoirs created by the Hoover and Davis Dams. About 96 percent of the water in Lake Mead is from melted snow that fell in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Wyoming. Lake Mead extends for 110 miles behind the Hoover Dam (completed in 1936), while Lake Mohave extends for 67 miles behind the Davis Dam (completed in 1951).

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One of the many aspects of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area that continually draws visitors is its good weather. Many people come just to relax in the land of the sun. Refugees from states hit hard by winter's icy clutch often flee to this area to spend a mild winter. Sunbathers and water skiers spend summers here to toast in the 110 °F (43 °C) plus temperatures. The area generally has less than five inches of annual rainfall. Water temperatures may range from 45 °F (7 °C) to 85 °F (29 °C) at different times of the year.

Get in edit

By plane edit

Lake Mead NRA is approximately 25 miles from McCarran International Airport (LAS IATA) in Las Vegas. Other communities bordering and near Lake Mead NRA have smaller airports.

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There are nine paved accesses into Lake Mead NRA.

By public transportation edit

There is no public transportation serving the park, although tour buses operate from many Las Vegas resorts and attractions.

Fees and permits edit

Fees for individuals entering the park are $15, good for seven days. Fees for vehicles (including all passengers) are $25, also good for seven days. An annual pass is available for $45 that allows free entrance for one calendar year.

There are several passes for groups traveling together in a private vehicle or individuals on foot/bike that provide free entry to Lake Mead National Recreation Area and all national parks, as well as some national monuments, national wildlife refuges, and national forests:

  • The $80 Annual Pass (valid for twelve months from date of issue) can be purchased by anyone. Military personnel can obtain a free pass by showing a Common Access Card (CAC) or Military ID.
  • The $80 Senior Pass (valid for the life of the holder) is available to U.S. citizens or permanent residents age 62 or over. Applicants must provide documentation of citizenship and age. This pass also provides a 50% discount on some park amenities. Seniors can also obtain a $20 annual pass.
  • The free Access Pass (valid for the life of the holder) is available to U.S. citizens or permanent residents with permanent disabilities. Applicants must provide documentation of citizenship and permanent disability. This pass also provides a fifty percent discount on some park amenities.
  • The free Volunteer Pass is available to individuals who have volunteered 250 or more hours with federal agencies that participate in the Interagency Pass Program.
  • The free Annual 4th Grade Pass (valid for September to August of the 4th grade school year) allows entry to the bearer and any accompanying passengers in a private non-commercial vehicle. Registration at the Every Kid Outdoors website is required.

The National Park Service offers free admission to all national parks on five days every year:

  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day (third Monday in January); next observance is January 20, 2025
  • The first day of National Park Week (third Saturday in April); next observance is April 20, 2024
  • The National Park Service Birthday (August 25)
  • National Public Lands Day (fourth Saturday in September); next observance is September 28, 2024
  • Veterans Day (November 11)

Get around edit

Map of Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Paved roads lead to all major sites. There are many approved backcountry roads.

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Do edit

Kayak the Colorado River from Willow Beach. Nice hiking, hot springs, and camping. The river is closed to motorized boats on Sundays and Mondays, but expect to find a few motorboats ignoring this rule.

  • Desert Adventures, 1647A Nevada Highway, Boulder City, +1 702-293-5026. Offers paddling trips on the Colorado River or Lake Mead.
  • Swim or picnic at the beaches.

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Camping is the best thing you can do.

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