Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Lake Mead National Rec Area
Lake Mead National Rec Area (Heather Perry/National Geographic/Getty)

Lake Mead National Recreation Area exhibits a startling contrast of desert and water, mountains and canyons, primitive backcountry and modern technology.

The park encompasses 110-mile-long Lake Mead, 67-mile Lake Mohave, the surrounding desert, and the isolated Shivwits Plateau in Arizona. The Shivwits can be reached only by unpaved roads from the north.

Thanks to Hoover Dam and with Las Vegas nearby, Lake Mead and Lake Mohave emerged as the center of the country's first national recreation area. Ironically, people could flock to the desert for boating, fishing, swimming, and waterskiing. Today thousands of visitors share in enjoying the cool, refreshing manmade lakes.

But drawn by water, they find many other unexpected rewards. There is the quiet and the stark, desolate beauty of the desert. There are imposing scenes of the ancient, twisted mountains of the Basin and Range province and the colorful vertical walls and high plateaus of the Grand Canyon. There is raw, untouched backcountry.

Nature will always be more impressive than Hoover Dam.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 8 Nov 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


Sign up to Away's Travel Insider

Preview newsletter »