Before I took that nasty fall in the campground a month ago, I planned on staying out here at Lake Mead for a few weeks, checking out the places I used to go and maybe finding some new ones. Now I’m catching up on the travelogue and planning to come back some day to finish the Lake Mead adventure I started. Enjoy!
Lake Mead in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area is quickly hitting an all-time low – a low water level, that is. This year, the water level will be at the lowest level it’s been since 1937 when it was being filled after Hoover Dam was completed in 1935. When you look at the photo above, you can see in the bottom left the sun shining off the Las Vegas Wash that runs into the lake and has formed an area of wetlands. Also in the far off distance, in the middle of the photo, right under the mountains, you can see a tiny bit of blue – that’s where the lake is now. Most of the area in the photo used to be under water as part of the lake.
For those of us who remember what it looked like at its peak, it’s a very sad state of affairs to come around the bend in the road and see before you a still-beautiful lake (although a lot less of it) with a huge “bath-tub ring” around it.
Take a look at these two screen shots above, taken with my iPhone: the one on the left is a regular “street view” of the map of the Lake Mead Campgrounds I was staying in; the one on the right is the satellite view, also with the little blue dot showing my location. As you can see, my campsite used to be a lakeside spot and now it’s more than a mile away as the crow flies to the nearest part of the lake; I had to scroll way back in order to even find the water in the screen view.
The Lake Mead Marina has moved due to the low water levels to keep the boats out in the water. This walkway is visible in the photo below, almost in the middle of the pic. The marina is full-service and includes the Harbor House Cafe (always good food!), a store where you can purchase fishing licenses, sunscreen, t-shirts and everything in between, showers, laundry facilities, boat sales office, and even waverunner rentals.
In the above photo, see that dark little peak of a hill in the lower right corner? That’s actually all that stood above water when the lake was full. Pretty much all that lighter area you see used to be under water.
From the marina, looking up at the parking lot, all this area was under water not too long ago and the end of the drought that’s lasted 17 years so far is nowhere in sight yet. The bathtub ring is visible on the upper left of the photo.
Many boat ramps around the lake have been closed because there’s no longer any water out there to put your boat into. Boulder Beach is a wide expanse of dirt and rocks – not much “beach” going on anymore.
But looking past all this, Lake Mead is still a brilliant blue in the bright sunlight and the surrounding hills and mountains still provide a dramatic backdrop for what is still a beautiful lake. Fishing boats still go out every day, with anglers hoping to catch a bass or two. Sailboats still skim across the water as if by magic. Carp still grow big and huge, begging for handouts, near the marina walkway. The marina restaurant still serves up some mighty tasty food. Campers still pitch their tents, build campfires to roast hotdogs, and other “campers” still sit in their motorhomes. The skies are still magnificent and the sunsets glorious. It’s still worth a visit. It’s always worth a visit. One of these days, the water will come back and it will be its gorgeous amazing brilliant lake-self again. I’m hoping it happens in my lifetime.
See you out there on the road somewhere!
6 thoughts on “Lake Mead National Recreation Area”
It looks like you might be (or were) very close to the same campsite at Las Vegas Bay campground I used earlier this year. Once again, neighbors, but not at the same time.
We have to stop meeting like this, Al! I was in the no-generators loop looking out over the Wash and wetlands. Great view – but I remember when the view included a lake and water and I don’t like seeing it so low.
Thank you, Lois, for educating all of us about Lake Mead. I’ve never been there, but I can see how beautiful it once was (and what is left of it still is). I hope that something happens soon to restore it to its former beauty.
It’s such a beautiful location, Nancy, even with the water so far down. For those of us who have roots here (my grandfather came to help build Hoover Dam in 1931; my family were some of the first residents of Boulder City and I was born here almost 63 years ago), it’s very sad to see. The entire west coast needs rain; California’s 4-year drought will have major ramifications all over the US.
Thanks for the sad information. I always enjoy your blog, even when the news isn’t all that good.
I know – and it is what it is, Blaize. I know the Earth has cycles and perhaps we’re just in a drought cycle on the west coast while other parts of the US are in a wet cycle. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!
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