Although we’ve been heavily side-tracked by taxes, friends & storms these past 10 days, we’ve also managed a few outings. The massive man-made lake that is Lake Mead covers no less than 2,337 sq miles (6,053 km²) and hides a bunch of interesting things to see both on foot and boat. Given that I get sea-sick at the drop of a hat we’ve kept our outings to the firm stuff, but that’s not limited the variety of stuff to see. The hikes below here are all listed in the “online bible” of Las Vegas natural outings birdandhike.com (seriously bookmark that site) and we’ve squeezed them in-between the spurts of nature’s spring folly. If you come here, this is where I suggest you go….

1/ Historic Railroad Tunnels Hike/Bike

Earthy dark and cool in tunnel #5

Earthy dark and cool in tunnel #5

If there were one trail (and only one) that I suggest you do while in Lake Mead, this would be the one. Located on the southern shoreline right at the corner of Hwy 93 and Lakeshore Drive, this easy 4.4 mile roundtrip takes you along a section of the 1931 railroad bed which helped haul materials to construct Hoover Dam. Located  high above Lake Mead the ride is not only super scenic, but passes through no less than 5  fabulous old tunnels which retain earthy cool smells, eerie calm and even bats (cooool!). Along the way you get to learn some history about the area, and if you’re feeling good you can tag-on a few extra miles & follow the trail all the way to Hoover Dam (highly recommended).

Note/ Link to hike/bike details HERE. This trail is entirely dog-friendly.

2/ Hoover Dam

This place is too big to capture in a photo

This place is too big to capture in a photo

No-one in their right mind would come to Lake Mead and not visit it’s source, the 726.4 foot high mass of insane concrete that is Hoover Dam. Constructed between 1931 and 1936 during the Great Depression, the massive undertaking took 4,360,000 cubic yards of concrete and cost 100 lives. Back in the day you used to be able to drive your car over the dam, but I guess the authorities finally came to their senses and built a bridge by-pass in 2010 further up. These days you either drive & park or take the bike trail (#1) to visit. No matter what you might think of the whole endeavor you can’t help but be impressed by the enormousness of it all, especially when you peer all the way to the bottom and imagine the ridiculous pressure of water that’s on the back. It’s an awesome sight and the tour is well worth it too.

Note/ If biking route#1 bring a bike-lock since the last 1/4 mile to the dam is gated (there is a rack to lock your bikes). Link to bike map HERE. Doggie is welcome ontop of the dam, but just can’t go inside the visitor center or on the tour.

3/ Anniversary Narrows Hike

I’m a big fan of slot canyons so when Leigh & Brian suggested a neat (and easy) hike close to our boondocking site at Government Wash we jumped on the chance to come along. Located right at milemarker 16 on Lakeshore Drive, a bumpy little drive takes you into the canyon and down towards Anniversary Narrows. From here a short hike takes you into the canyon. It’s a super-cool, super-easy visit to a great little slot canyon. Go late afternoon for warm colors.

Note/ Link to map details HERE. This trail is entirely dog-friendly.

4/ Vegas Baby….and Henderson

It’s a town where dreams are made, hearts are broken and anything is possible. I’ve been to Vegas many times in the past, but if you’ve never seen “The Strip” it’s worth at least a drive and several good hours to walk & gawk at the crazy hotels, take in a show (Blue Man group & Cirque Du Soleil are my favs), play a few cards or hit one of the hundreds of awesome restaurants which are scattered all around. Nearby Henderson has some pretty neat, little food-spots too. Leigh & Brian used to live here so they took us to their local fav I Love Sushi (yum, yum!) and highly recommended Lotus of Siam (can you say 1,617 Yelp reviews??!!) and Grimaldi’s Pizza. I say listen to the locals, baby….

Panorama of the famous Vegas Strip

Panorama of the famous Vegas Strip

5/ Hot Springs, Birds & Deadly Amoeba?

Blue Springs is a quick little visit on the north shore

Blue Springs is a quick little visit on the north shore

Although the desert around Lake Mead looks dead and arid it actually hides quite a few surprises in terms of hot springs and birding. Along the southern shore Goldstrike Canyon is a somewhat tricky (= not really dog-friendly), but popular hike that leads to a neat waterfall & hot pool. Further north Rogers Spring (large pond) & Blue Point Springs (tiny, but very gushy spring) are quick visits right off the road which hide palm-lined hot water sources. The first is rather pretty, but not really functional since it contains Naegleria Fowleri, a lovely little amoeba which can be fatal if it enters your nasal canal (I say go for the picnic, but not the soak). At the very northern tip of the lake the Overton Wildlife Management Area hides a short hike around various canals & ponds that attract plentiful waterfowl for birding enthusiasts.

There are TONS of other hikes around Lake Mead which you can explore on on THIS MAP, as well as backroad driving routes HERE and birding spots HERE.

And for those of you who think I’ve missed the BEST outing in the entire area, fear not. There’s one especially fiery spot on the north shore which deserves it’s very own blog post. That’ll be coming next….

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53 Responses to 5 Cool Outings Around Lake Mead, NV

  1. John V says:

    Two ideas:
    If you like Brooklyn/NYC style pizza, check out Secret Pizza in the Cosmo. Even better than Grimaldi’s.
    For a great backcountry hike (no trails, no people) check out the Bowl of Fire about halfway between you and Government Wash. We did a blog posting on it back in December.

  2. Sherie says:

    Moapa Valley Druve in the Valley of Fire State Park is listed in National Geographic’s Drives of a Lifetime: 500 of the World’s Most Spectacular Drives. True to the southwest, it includes sparkly sandstone formations.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Yup, Valley of Fire is the ONE outing I didn’t mention here ‘coz it’s gonna get it’s very own blog post. It deserves to stand alone :)

      Nina

  3. Bruce says:

    Fabulous post!

    I always anticipate your weekly posts because I know I’ll be in for a visual or textual treat – or both – without fail every time. Being one with the long-term photography disease, I especially appreciate your wonderful views into the wonders of this world!

    I’ve been to the Vegas area several times, but, never miss an opportunity to return because there is so much to see and do. This post has given me several new information links to explore on my next trip.

    My first recollection of the area was touring deep in the wet, spooky bowels of the dam some 50+ years ago while on a cross country vacation with my family. Quite impressive upon a wide-eyed 10 year old kid from Tennessee!

    My most recent visit was about 15 years ago when we toured Lake Mead on a dinner cruise from the marina, where we were left speechless from the chalky white band – the mother of all bathtub rings! – around the rocks in the narrows at the top of the dam. The sight of the evening lights on the dam and intakes was spell-binding as we gently floated at the mouth of such a tremendous source of raw power and fury.

    Your post has helped bring some of those images back into my mind.

    Thanks!

    • libertatemamo says:

      Thanks so much for the lovely compliment. I can only imagine what it must have been like doing that tour as a 10-year old kid…talk about impressive! Never been on a cruise on the lake, but I can imagine it must be pretty neat.

      Nina

  4. The Lake Mead area is a great place to mix nature and the big city. It took us five years to get there but it is a place we definitely plan to return.

    • libertatemamo says:

      So very true. I’m actually amazed how much nature is around here. Previously I’d only ever been to Vegas (the city) and hadn’t really explored what was outside. Now, I know what I missed!

      Nina

  5. Caryl Kirk says:

    Oh Nina…you never fail to open more doors for adventure…bless you!! Our progress is slower now towards our launch due to the demise of our daughter’s husband 3 weeks ago…send White Light and a silent prayer for her…it has been most painful to watch let alone participate in. All the more determined, we are fielding offers on the house and gradually reducing the baggage. Our hearts have wings and you provide the air beneath them! Thank you both…we do so look forward to your posts and beautiful pictures!

    • libertatemamo says:

      So very, very sorry for your loss!! I can only imagine how tough a time it has been for you all. Sure hope you are able to move forward with the next step of your life and if I’m able to provide a little “air” for those wings I am more than happy to be the inspiration :)

      Nina

      • Caryl Kirk says:

        Thank you, Nina! One never knows when our transition will occur so we just keep on keeping on….amazing things continue to happen and we smile and move one foot ahead of the other….all the more determined! “….sailing, sailing away….” Songs from ones life, eh?

  6. kevin says:

    I love your web site. It’s added so many things to my “Bucket List”. But I must confess, I miss hearing from Paul about his other passions.

    Kevin

    • libertatemamo says:

      Yeah, I know. Sadly I just don’t think he’ll be picking it up again. I do ask him every now and then though…you never know.

      Nina

  7. Andy says:

    Have you ever hiked around St. Thomas? If you do, I’d love to hear what you think. This is one of those that I have on my list for the next time I’m in that part of the country.

    http://www.nps.gov/lake/naturescience/st-thomas-nevada.htm

    • libertatemamo says:

      Whoah no…I didn’t even know about it. I think you just gave us our outing for tomorrow morning. Cool!

      Nina

    • libertatemamo says:

      Found it and did the hike. Pretty interesting little outing, although I wish they had more history of the area. It’s just one little info sign & a hike trail.

      Nina

  8. Bill C. says:

    Did you walk across the new bridge at Hoover Dam ? We watched the bridge being built from start to finish. The pictures of the dam from the bridge walkway pretty much do it justice. We have lived in Henderson for 12 years, and have done everything you mentioned and more. Nice to see people realize there is more than casinos here.

    • libertatemamo says:

      No, we didn’t walk on the new bridge (we just drove across) but I can totally see how that might be the best shot of the dam. I’ll keep that in mind for next time.

      Nina

  9. Pam Hollinde says:

    Thank you, thank you – you are giving me so many great ideas for places to visit. I’m really enjoying your blog.

  10. Bill C. says:

    Also, you can take a kayak trip, (or large motorized raft for the less adventuresome) down the Colorado River. Put in right below Hoover Dam, flow with the current for about 12 miles through amazing Black Canyon, and take out at Willow Beach. Willow Beach has a pretty nice RV park with full hookups.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Neat! I do enjoy kayaking when I get the chance. Will look into that for next time were in the area.

      Nina

  11. TenaciousBago says:

    Love the pic of You, Paul and Polly…
    Looks like such cool place to hike. We’ll have to check that one out next time we are in the area.
    Hey did you guys take the new bridge that is finally finished that goes up and over the Hoover Dam?

    • libertatemamo says:

      Yup, we took the new bridge. Super easy, although I have to admit I kinda missed the thrill of driving over the dam.

      Nina

  12. Thanks, Nina! Love this area but have not done the Anniversary Narrows! Looks just like my kind of place!!!

  13. Dana Grummer says:

    Hi – I just found your blog today and was so happy to see you are still posting. My 16 y/o daughter just returned home from spending a year in Denmark. She was in Haslev – and LOVED it!

    DH and I are considering full-timing early next year. We both work for the same company and just went through a merger – where we’ll both likely get laid off. Thinking of trading in our 5th wheel…taking the severance money…and hitting the road – while the kid goes off to college. I’m loving the blog! Glad I found it.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Oh how neat! I’m so glad your daughter enjoyed my home country. Very exciting that you’re thinking of going on the road. Hope I can provide some inspiration to you.

      Nina

  14. Rowanova says:

    Wow, so many cool things to see and do in the Vegas area! I’ve awaited your posts about the area since you announced you’d be in the area for a while. I’ve not been to the area my self, so I was quite curious to see what you’d find to share with all of us readers. I’m pleasantly impressed. Thanks!

    • libertatemamo says:

      I admit this area has more natural interest than I ever imagined. Previous to this I’d only ever visited “The Strip” and had no idea all these hikes & natural areas were so close. I’m so glad we decided to come through here.

      Nina

  15. Great post Nina! We are still at North Ranch and waffling as to our departure date–they got sixteen inches of snow Sunday!

    • libertatemamo says:

      Holy Moly…16 inches!! I have to admit the forecasts just north of us don’t look good either. Snow falling all over the mountains.

      Nina

  16. David says:

    Nina, Thank You for the Hot Spring report. I plan on traveling there this coming winter, either before or after “Sam’s Family Spa” in Desert Hot Springs, Calif. We are planning a Hot Spring tour next winter. A really big Thank You for the Intel regarding “Benchmark Maps”. Just received my N.M. and Arizona map books yesterday. Great tools!!

  17. Gaelyn says:

    Going to put that slot canyon on my list. Is the water real low at Mead?

    • libertatemamo says:

      The water is sadly very low. Our current boondocking site is actually marked on the GPS as being well within the lake and most of the boat ramps around the lake are closed since they’re so far above the waterline. It’s sad to see.

      Nina

  18. LuAnn says:

    I have bookmarked this as places to hike and bike when we get back out west. Great post Nina. :)

  19. Jil says:

    I too have bookmarked this page…wonderful into….am curious though why Benchmark maps as opposed to DeLoreme maps….

    • libertatemamo says:

      Both Benchmark and Delorme are good maps. I just prefer the coloring of Benchmark. I find them easier to read. Don’t think you can go wrong with either though.

      Nina

  20. Steve says:

    If you like slot canyons, I suggest you return to the Escalante area (I saw your post from there in 2010), park the “beast”, and head out exploring. There is easily a lifetime of hiking to do there and many places where you won’t see anyone for days.
    Enjoy Valley of Fire.
    Regards.

    • libertatemamo says:

      You know it’s a funny thing, but I was just thinking about that area the other day. We went there right at the beginning of our RV travels (back when I didn’t do quite as much photography as I do now) and I would LOVE to go back. Maybe next year…

      Nina

      • Steve says:

        Nina,

        I am not a photographer, but the book “Photographing the Southwest, Volume 1 Southern Utah” is a super guide book to the region. For a photographer like yourself, I would think it would be invaluable.

        Safe travels and let me be the first to welcome you back to Oregon….once you arrive that is (-:

        • libertatemamo says:

          Indeed, that book is a fine reference which I keep meaning to pick-up. Next time I’m somewhere I can receive mail I think I’ll order it.

          Nina

  21. TRACIE says:

    I do love your pics. If you ever make it to Montana check out the Lewis and
    Clark Caverns. One of the largest limestone caverns in the northwest, bats too. Google it. Happy Safe travels.
    Tracie

    • libertatemamo says:

      Sounds like a super neat spot! We’ve yet to make it to MT so there is lots for us to discover there.

      Nina

  22. Mark says:

    Great website and stories. I have bookmarked you and will follow along on the journey. We were in the area you are traveling this time last year; it is a great place to visit. Look forward to learning more about your travels.

    • libertatemamo says:

      This time of year is probably the absolute best time to be here. Perfect temps, good sunny days. We’ve had a few REALLY windy days too, but I gather that’s pretty normal for the Lake Mead area.

      Nina

  23. George says:

    Thank you for sharing this great information. Today my wife and I did the Anniversary Narrows hike. The narrow slot canyon was spectacular. Without your blog, we would have never known about it. Tomorrow the Historic Railroad Tunnels hike and Hoover Dam. We are set up at Government Wash.

  24. Cheryl says:

    Thanks so very much for posting this wonderful info!! We have just purchased our MH and are headed out next month. For our first adventure we plan to be in the Las Vegas area and I’ve been focusing on the Lake Mead area for a place to stay. The hikes and activities you have mentioned are exactly the kinds of things we want to do and these all sound awesome!! Reading this makes me even more excited!!! Thanks again!

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