Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada – April 2015
I was meeting some friends in Vegas the last week in April and since I had cut my time at the Grand Canyon short I had 10 days to kill. I camped in Henderson on the outskirts of Vegas for two nights at a reasonably priced but horribly cramped parking lot they called Duck Creek RV Park. But it did the trick and I left with my batteries charged up, my tanks emptied, and fresh water on board. I was ready for more dry camping.
Lake Mead is just 17 miles outside of Henderson and offers many camping options. The one that interested me was a place called Government Wash. Once you paid your entrance fee for the national recreation area (which is covered by the annual park pass I purchased at the beginning of my trip) you can camp for free for up to 14 nights. There are several places around the lake that allow dispersed camping but Government Wash offered the most options and best roads. There is a large parking lot at the entrance that you can camp in if you don’t want to brave the washboard dirt roads but I chose to go a half mile farther, taking the road at a snail’s pace, and finding a great big gravel area that I could turn my rig around in and that had a decent view of the lake. The area was huge with roads going off in several directions. During my stay there were between one and two dozen camps in the area but it was so big you didn’t feel crowded. Here is a pic from my front door:
You can only see one other camper in the picture but just over that hill there were a half dozen tent, van, and small RV campers.
This lake, like Roosevelt Lake I visited a few weeks ago, is at about 50% capacity. Government wash has a boat dock, now closed, that goes in to a wash that is currently nowhere near the water’s edge. The water was a half mile past my campsite. I could drive the truck down to it once I unhooked the trailer or it made a nice walk in the mornings and evenings. I spent only one afternoon hanging out by the water and enjoying the sun. The lake water had a light film of algae on it and wasn’t particularly appealing but I cooled off in it anyway. I fully intended to spend another day kayaking on the lake but never managed it.
I drove about 45 miles to see the Colorado River where it flows below the Hoover dam at a place called Willow Beach Marina. The water was clear and inviting here and rather lake like.
I put in and kayaked up a few miles without too much trouble. The current seemed negligible. But when I turned the kayak back to the marina it took a surprisingly short amount of time to drift back.
I drove 45 miles in the other direction another day and visited Valley of Fire State Park. I had visited before when I had been in the area but had forgotten how strange and wonderful a place it is. The sandstone rocks go on for miles and are every shade between white and red.
I could easily spend a week here some day walking the many trails and scrambling over the huge sandstone boulders. If you are ever in Vegas this is an easy half day excursion that is worth a look.