Friday, June 10, 2016

No Boat? No Problem! Lake Activities for the Boatless

With all those fancy fountains, bright lights and exciting shows, it’s easy to forget that one of the world’s largest man-made lakes sits in Las Vegas’ backyard. Thanks to Hoover Dam, millions of visitors to the valley can enjoy recreational activities aplenty. Check out these Lake Mead activity suggestions for the boatless for some summer fun in Las Vegas.

 Click here to SAVE BIGLake Mead National Recreational Area is home to more than a dozen lakeside campsites and RV parks. Run by the National Parks Service, the sites vary in price and amenities. If you’re really roughin’ it, Echo Bay Campground is a no-frills site offering splendid views of the northern tip of the lake for $20 a night. Campers in this area of the lake will enjoy easy access to Valley of Fire, St. Thomas ghost town and numerous hiking trails. Check the National Park Service’s webpage for more information on camping at Lake Mead.

When the sun is really shining, you want to be on the water. Businesses such as Lake Mead Marina offer kayak and paddle board rentals for the entire day starting at $90. The Black Canyon Water Trail, which launches at Hoover Dam and meanders through Black Canyon to the south, is officially designated as a National Water Trail by the Department of the Interior. One of our preferred vendors offers a rafting tour of this stretch of the Colorado River as part of a Grand Canyon excursion.

Fishing has long been a favorite pastime among Lake Mead visitors. Home to largemouth bass, striped bass, channel catfish, crappie and bluegill, an exciting day of angling on the lake awaits. Go buy a $20 rod and bait at one of the many bait and tackle shops around the area, pack a lunch and make a day out of it. There are also a number of local businesses that provide guided kayak fishing excursions on the lake and river.

 Your Mojave Desert Adventure Awaits! Just off the northern shore of Lake Mead sits Valley of Fire, the oldest state park in Nevada. In addition to the full-size visitors’ center with extensive interpretive displays, guests to the park can marvel at ancient areas of petrified wood and 3,000-year-old Indian petroglyphs. You’ll certainly want to bring along your camera. Take a tour of this treasure by dune buggy to enjoy all the natural splendor on a fast-paced off-road adventure.

Early Mormon settlers led by Thomas Smith founded the town of St. Thomas in 1865. The construction of Hoover Dam caused the city to be enveloped by resulting Lake Mead. However, in recent years, drought has caused lake water to subside, exposing the ghostly ruins of St. Thomas. It sits along the edge of the lake’s Overton Arm. A 3-mile dirt road leading to the site should be manageable for most vehicles. The population reached as high as 500 people by the 1880s. The foundations of the town’s post office and school are easily spotted along with some still-standing walls and stone staircases. The last resident to leave the town, Hugh Lord, paddled away from his home when water began lapping at his front door in 1938.

 Enjoy an Enchanted Evening on the Lake!If you’d rather not paddle yourself and prefer someone else catch your dinner, a Lake Mead dinner cruise is the perfect way to beat the heat in style. Enjoy the beauty of Lake Mead aboard a classic paddle wheel boat, capture photographs of the myriad wildlife in the area and savor a three-course meal all on the calm waters of the lake.

While exploring the desert surrounding Las Vegas, always be sure to apply sunscreen regularly, wear a hat and sunglasses and drink plenty of water, even if you’re not thirsty. There’s plenty of excitement to be found just outside the city limits. This is what summer is for, so get out there! Happy trails, desert explorers!

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