Las Vegas Area East – Lake Mead National Recreation Area and Valley of Fire
by Joseph A. Sprince – Photography by Gerald B. Allen (Except as noted)
Lake Mead National Recreation Area features giant Lake Mead behind Hoover Dam and focuses on a variety of water recreation. There are also excellent scenic drives, vista points, and picnic areas. Valley of Fire State Park is north of Lake Mead and south of Interstate-15. Nevada’s oldest state park features spectacular and colorful sandstone formations and is very easily toured in an auto.
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Lake Mead, Hoover Dam, and Valley of Fire may each be toured as a day trip by Las Vegas visitors. (Photo, Left courtesy Lake Mead NRA)
Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Lake Mead National Recreation Area consists of immense Lake Mead, formed behind spectacular Hoover Dam, and the smaller Lake Mojave to the south. The focus here is all manner of outstanding water recreation ranging from fishing to houseboating to water sports such as kayaking or water skiing. During the cooler months, hiking and auto touring away from the water are excellent, featuring deep canyons, dry washes, sheer cliffs, distant mountain ranges, as well as wildlife and unusual desert plants. Nevada’s popular Valley of Fire State Park is near the Echo Bay Marina at the north end of Lake Mead. The Northshore Road offers picnic areas and great scenery. The numerous marinas on the two lakes offer services ranging from boat launches, food, lodging, campgrounds, and boat rentals. Cruises and tours are also available (see below). Lake Mojave, convenient to popular Laughlin, Nevada, is a favorite destination for young people during Spring Break. Visit time: a day to drive the scenic road, several days to enjoy the lakes. Very easy access from Las Vegas. A list of area highlights:
- Hoover Dam. One of world’s most photogenic and historic dams.
- Temple Bar Area. Convenient to US-93 in Arizona, Temple Bar offers lodging, camping, restaurants, a marina and full range of services.
- Lake Mojave / Laughlin Area. A popular spring break destination, Lake Mojave offers full services including watercraft rentals ranging from personal watercraft to houseboats. Convenient to Laughlin, Nevada and Kingman, Arizona.
- Northshore Road / Overton Arm Area. One of the area’s most scenic drives, the Northshore Road offers access to picnic areas, the marinas of the Overton Arm (Echo Bay and Overton Beach), and Valley of Fire State Park. Convenient to Las Vegas.
Additional Info on Lake Mead National Recreation Area
- Lake Mead National Recreation Area (National Park Service)
- Lake Mead Activities (National Park Service)
- Lake Mead Cruises
- The Hoover Dam -The Most Iconic American West Roadside Stop
- Information/Tours: Hoover Dam (Bureau of Reclamation)
Valley of Fire State Park
Nevada’s oldest state park, Valley of Fire preserves a starkly beautiful section of the Mojave Desert noted for its brilliantly red sandstone formations including cliffs and petrified sand dunes. The red color is enhanced late in the day, near sunset. There are also petrified logs and ancient petroglyphs. Activities here include hiking, auto touring, and photography. There is a visitor center and campground. Valley of Fire is near the north end of Lake Mead, and easily accessed from Las Vegas, 55 miles north in Interstate-15. Visit time: a good day trip from Las Vegas, or a short stopover on the way to the Utah national parks.