Lake Mead National Recreation Area


The lakes and the surrounding desert mountains, canyons, and plains can look as lifeless as the moon. A keen eye and a sense of how wildlife survives in this wild land will improve your chances of seeing some of the area's common and more extraordinary animals and plants. Bighorn sheep commonly descend the steep rocky ridges along Lake Mead's or Lake Mohave's shores for a mid-day drink. More than 1,000 inhabit the recreation area. Bighorns are one of the few desert animals active during the extreme heat of day. Lizards, squirrels, jackrabbits end other creatures usually come out of their shaded resting places only in the cooler hours of morning, late afternoon, evening, or night.

Spectacular displays of desert plant life can be just as elusive. The desert blooms year-round, but many of the blossoms are so tiny you have to lie on your belly to see them. A winter rain, however, can trigger a burst of wildflowers the following spring that will conspicuously color the desert like a rainbow. Along the lakes a rich assortment of birds—out of place in the drylands but at home on the water—abound. Resident and migratory ducks, cormorants, geese, egrets, herons, and pelicans fish the waters, along with ospreys and bald eagles.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


Sign up to Away's Travel Insider

Preview newsletter »