Hanging by the shore at Government Wash

A very scenic but also very popular boondocking spot just east of Las Vegas on the shores of Lake Mead, NV

Location: Government Wash Road, Lake Mead, NV
Coordinates: Entry to boondocking area around 36.1385681,-114.8399551. Link to map location HERE
Cost: Lake Mead NRA Fees apply ($10 for 7 days, $30 for a year or America The Beautiful Pass). 15-day stay limit.
How We Found It: We heard about this spot from other bloggers (Aluminarium and Watson’s Wonder) and also found it on freecampsites.net
Nearest Dump/Water: Nearest dump & water is at Calville Bay Resort & Marina. There are on-site garbage bins (for household garbage) and flush toilets at Government Wash.

  1. Access – 3.5/5
    Pretty decent/easy access here depending on where you go and how close to the lake you want to get:
    Gravel Parking Area -> Government Wash Road is an easy paved road that ends in a large, gravel parking area (with toilet facilities & trash) There is easily space for 20 rigs of any size in this area and it’s super-easy to access. For those worried about the dirt roads, just park here and enjoy. However the best views are further down.
    Lake Area -> Once you leave the paved area the road becomes dirt which is hard, bumpy & very rocky (lots of small. embedded rocks). There are several forks which lead you to different areas. The first fork on the right has lots of flat, easy sites with good views but no direct access to the lake. The second fork further down leads to sites closer to the lake. The closer you get to the lake the more bumpy, rough and potentially sandy the road so be sure to scope out before you bring in your rig. Big rigs are probably best keeping near the top whereas smaller rigs can nab some of the juicier sites further down. Since this is a popular boondocking spot some of the larger sites often end up with several rigs parked in the same area so keep this in mind when choosing a spot.
  2. Nature – 5/5
    This is a pretty gorgeous spot. You are right next to Lake Mead within easy walking distance to the water and with several large washes & spots to hike/explore around the boondocking area. The desert is dry & stark, but the lake is shimmering blue. A lovely contrast!
  3. Isolation – 1/5
    This area is close to Las Vegas & Henderson and is a popular fishing/boating spot with the locals (there is a boat put-in area down the centre dirt road). Plus it’s a well-known, well-used boondocking spot. For this reason you are very unlikely to be alone unless you come well out of season. There were probably 30 rigs in the area while we were there, plus the lake-front got full (and quite rowdy) on the week-end.
  4. Pet Friendliness – 5/5
    Excellent spot for doggie. Lots of space in camp, swimming in the lake is easily accessible just down the road plus there is plenty of space around the area to hike/explore. Desert is dry and cactus-free so easy on the paws. Be aware there are lots of coyotes around so don’t leave small pets outside alone.

Overall Rating = 3.6
BONUS ALERT = Camp with a full view of gorgeous Lake Mead, NV!

Summary: It’s not often you find a boondocking site right next to a rocking town with full lake-views and for that reason this is a popular spot. Government Wash lies within the Lake Mead National Recreation Area just east of Las Vegas, NV. There is a fee to entry ($10 for 7 days, $30 for a year, or you can use your America The Beautiful Pass), but for this small cost you’ll get some outstanding views. The road is an easy, paved street down to a large parking area by the old boat ramp (now closed) with 3 main dirt roads (bumpy, hard, rocky) leading to obvious sites all the way down to the water. You can either boondock in the parking area or along one of the dirt roads. The closer you get to the water the bumpier & rougher the road, so big rigs are probably best camping near the top, while smaller rigs can get further down. Lots of sites in the area, but the biggest ones often get filled by several rigs camped side-by-side so keep that in mind when choosing a site. The best things about this spot are the gorgeous views, the excellent Verizon signal, the on-site garbage cans (what a treat) and the easy proximity to all the shopping/eating you’ll ever want in Henderson & Las Vegas. Plus there is lots of nearby hiking & sightseeing. The worst things about this spot are the crowds, especially on warm week-ends. Also, the area is very poorly patrolled and it seems several rigs stake out spots here long-term. We loved all the positive aspects of this area, especially the proximity to the lake (daily swims with doggie!) & nearby shopping/eating but the traffic started to get to us after around a week and we decided to move on. Despite this, this is such a good location there’s no doubt we’ll come back here in the future.

Extra Info: Excellent Verizon signal (full bars of 3G, plus some 4G LTE with booster). On-site garbage & flush toilets. NO dump or potable water (nearest dump/water at Calville Bay).

View of entry to dirt road

View of entry to dirt road

View of our site. We were near the second fork.

View of our site. We were near the second fork.

View of sites along the first right-hand fork. Many are simple pull-ins.

View of sites along the first right-hand fork. On the left is a typical pull-in.

Another view down first fork. This is a very large site and has filled with 2 RVs.

Another view down first fork. This is a very large site and has filled with 2 RVs. Some sites we saw 3 RVs fill-in and I don’t think they knew each other.

View of sites further down towards the lake. Road gets very bumpy here.

View of sites further down towards the lake. Road gets very bumpy here.

View of an empty site. You can see RVs in the background.

View of an empty site. You can see RVs in the background.

View to the right of our site showing lots of RVs.

View to the right of our site showing lots of RVs.

Some rigs camped in the gravel parking area by the entrance. No real lake-view here, but super-easy access.

Some rigs camped in the gravel parking area by the entrance. No real lake-view here, but super-easy access plus toilets are next-door.

View of the facilities and trash in the gravel parking area.

View of the facilities and trash in the gravel parking area by the top.

General map of boondocking area

General map of boondocking area

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17 Responses to Boondocking Site Review – Government Wash, Lake Mead, NV

  1. Betty-shea says:

    Awww..thank you for the wonderful photos and the info…it has been years since I last visited…you brought back to mind fun memories…!

    • libertatemamo says:

      Seems like this is an old-time favorite for lots of boondockers & based on the prime location I can certainly see why.

      Nina

  2. Doug says:

    When I was in the area 3 years ago, Government Wash was just too crowded for me. So I opted for the area just east, which had an unusually gravelly road, too gravelly to mountain bike.

    As an added bonus, on numerous occasions, I was treated to the sight of old guys running around naked on several occasions *rolls eyes*

    (Now I know why they say, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”)

    • libertatemamo says:

      Funny you should mention that. We actually saw a naked guy sunbathing (quite openly) by his rig near the water at Government Wash while we were there. Brian and Leigh told me there used to be a naked beach somewhere near here, but they shut it down, so I guess those folks just took it elsewhere LOL. Like you said…it’s Vegas baby!

      Nina

  3. Sue Malone says:

    great review of great boondocking, Nina. I am sorry to ask this question on a particular post, but I seem to have misplaced your email address. I wondered if you had ever boondocked in the Mojave Desert Preserve. As we wandered around checking out boondock sites, I just couldn’t help thinking of you two. Let me know, I’ll send you some info if you have yet to explore this place.

  4. Sherry says:

    Another great review Nina. It is so helpful that you give such details. Don’t know that there is any other better boondocking in the west info than you provide. Thanks!

    • libertatemamo says:

      Thanks. I do my best :) If you get the chance to use my Amazon link in return every now and then I’ll be super happy.

      Nina

  5. Rowanova says:

    Nice group of photos. Good work. Always a joy to see.

  6. JimS says:

    Did you happen to explore some of the other roads in the area? Looking at the map I’m wondering if the areas off Lake Mead Bl offer any boondocking opportunities.

    I enjoy reading your blog. Lots of good stuff.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Yup, we’re actually boondocking in a second spot off Lake Mead today, and I believe the park allows boondocking down most of the roads here as long as you can safely make it down the road and pick out an established campsite. Many of the other dirt roads are very rough, so I would definitely scope out before bringing in a rig.

      Nina

  7. Greg says:

    Again, another great review! I paid attention to see the cell/3G/4G service that was available in the area. That is a great extra that I normally don’t see on other reviews…Thank you!

  8. […] pretty low making this a much more relaxed spot than our previous location on the southern shore at Government Wash. Access is fairly easy along a somewhat bumpy, but accessible road leading to several boondocking […]

  9. Suzanne says:

    Hi, Nina,

    I had to make an unplanned stop in Henderson, NV to get a “check engine light” tended to today, so I needed a place to stay over the weekend. I got a late start out of Prescott on Saturday, and didn’t arrive at Hoover Dam until sunset, which had me searching for Government Wash after dark. I just wanted to thank you so much for your excellent details and directions. As a “solo navigator” (looking and driving at the same time) I would have NEVER found it otherwise!

    Suzanne

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