Boulder City — Lake Mead National Recreation Area

There is a $25 per car per week entrance fee, including to get to the campgrounds, for this National Park but free if you have a National Park annual pass or lifetime pass. During peak times, the line of cars and RVs to get into the park can be quite long. While in the park itself, the campground and adjacent store are run by a private concessionaire. There are also permanent mobile vacation homes just north of the campground.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area is the first national park in the US and gets over 8 million visitors a year. I was here in March/April when the weather is pleasant but not unbearably too hot yet. We were able to take some nice hikes, including 2.4 miles round trip from the rv park to Boulder Beach. The beach area is not a real “beach” per se as you have to walk over an embankment of dirt/weeds and then there’s the water. Probably more suited for water vessels than for people but I’m sure it’s full of swimmers and kids playing during the summer months.

This park is best explored with a vehicle as there isn’t much you can walk to other than the little store and office. The fairly large visitor center is about 2 miles away from the campground and prior to the entrance fee kiosk. The beach is 1.2 miles away. However, you can get picked up here at RV Village for a river raft tour. Black Canyon Raft Tours are $114 for 3 hours, includes box lunch and NPS entry fee. Lake Mead is a recreational area catering to people with boats or jet skis. It’s also popular for hikers. There are a number of popular hiking trails, including the “Historic Railroad Trail,” also near the entrance and before you have to pay.

Lake Mead is very peaceful most of the time but you may have to deal with two “noise” issues if you are camping. No freeway or highway traffic, fairly polite guests, no barking dogs. But there is a hoard of great-tailed grackles that live here and they are very noisy birds. Sometimes I feel like I’m at the zoo, not a recreation area, but they are fun to watch and listen to. Every morning, just after 7:00 a.m., the sightseeing helicopters start up over the lake and I get to listen to that for awhile but it’s not too bad. The Las Vegas airport has a flight path that goes directly overhead as well.

Don’t miss the visitor center when you are here. It’s actually before the pay entrance kiosk so if you’re just driving by and don’t have a National Park Pass, you can still enjoy the visitor center. There’s a short movie that shows throughout the day and many souvenirs, art, books, and clothes. I purchased a nice sweatshirt and a postcard for my collection.

Permanent vacation homes and rv sites at the lakeside
Lots of hiking opportunities
Boulder “beach”
You can follow the road to the dam for a tour and visit
View from the campground

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