5 Cool Outings Around Lake Mead, NV
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
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
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….
5/ Hot Springs, Birds & Deadly Amoeba?
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.
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….