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For year-round, outdoor adventure, the Lake Mead National Recreation Area in southern Nevada cant be beat. Both water and land lovers will find things to do and places to visit in the 1.5 million acre recreation area, which is the first of its kind to be established by a congressional act. Information about Lake Mead, which is formed by the Hoover Dam, Lake Mohave and Denis Dam, can be can be enjoyed at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area.
Interestingly, Lake Mead is the largest reservoir in the United States, spanning over 110 miles long in Nevada and Arizona. Impressively, when the full, the lake has 759 miles of shoreline, is 532 feet deep, has 247 square miles of surface and an astounding 28 million acre feet of water. With such a tremendous amount of water to create hydroelectricity, it’s no surprise why this location was selected for the Hoover Dam.
Originally named after Elwood Mead, the commissioner for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Boulder Dam Recreation Area was established in 1936 and administered by the National Park Service. The name was changed to Lake Mead National Recreation Area in 1964 when Lake Mohave and Shivwits Plateau were added.
These vast bodies of water are ideal for boating and water sports, kayaking, canoeing, swimming, sunbathing and some of the nation’s best sports fishing. With 163,000 surface acres and more than 700 miles of fishable shoreline, anglers can cast their lines with the hopes of hooking several species of fish, including the striped bass, largemouth and smallmouth bass, channel catfish, bluegill, crappie, green sunfish and rainbow trout. In most cases, all you need is a license and/or trout stamp to participate in this southern Nevada fishing epicenter. Additionally, nine developed areas on the lakes offer visitors a range of accommodations and services.
Several paved roads that offer access to endless recreational pursuits, including the Lake Mead Scenic Byway, bisect the expansive surrounding desert. Visitors will be delightfully surprised to find deep canyons, steep cliffs, colorful rock formations, an assortment of native vegetation, dry washes and more. Jagged mountain ranges encompass the lake, dishing up striking and vivid views, especially at sunset.
The magnificent scenery begs to be explored, hiked, biked and photographed. The spellbinding scenery is also home to the junction of three of the nation’s four desert ecosystems, including the Mojave, Great Basin and Sonoran Deserts, which means the Lake Mead National Recreation Area is home to a variety of plants and animals that cant be found anywhere else in the world, including the razorback sucker. A whopping 41 species of reptiles and 12 species of amphibians have been recorded at the Lake Mead, accompanying a large population of desert bighorn sheep, bald eagles and many more.
The recreation area also offers shaded picnic areas that include tables, barbeques, water and restrooms. Individual and group campsites are also available if you’re interested in extending your stay.
Fun Fact: A Boeing B-29 Superfortress crashed into Lake Mead in 1948 while testing a prototype missile guidance system known as a “suntracker.” This aircraft, along with two other smaller planes are still at the bottom of Lake Mead.
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