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Lake Mead Day Use Beach

The west side of Boulder Basin is called Boulder Beach.  You can see our close up map of Boulder Beach to get more acquainted with it's location and rules.   It's important to note that shoreline dry camping  IS NOT ALLOWED at Boulder Beach, it's only a day use area.  Camping is allowed nearby in the national park campground (no hookups) and the Lake Mead RV Village (hookups available).  Shoreline dry camping IS ALLOWED on other parts of Lake Mead, just not at Boulder Beach.

BROKEN GLASS WARNING.... Boulder Beach  can be dangerous with the present low water conditions.  As the water level goes down the shoreline moves out.  This means the lake bottom that use to be hundreds of feet offshore is now the current shoreline where kids play.  As a result bottles that were thrown overboard from boats moored offshore years ago are now at shoreline, some of them broken. Make your kids aware of the danger and wear water socks.

We recommend:

1.  Everyone should wear water socks, preferably the more expensive type that tie on, not the slip on kind.
2.  With little kids, use the swim beach to the north end of Boulder Beach where boats have not been allowed to come to shore for years.  There are less broken bottles in that area.
3.  Train your kids not to kneel down when playing in the water at shore.

This picture above was taken at Boulder Beach.  This area usually allows RV day-use parking right down at the shoreline too, but not always.    See our map of the area.


As of Feb 2015 Lake Mead is 140' below full pool at 1089.  Full pool is 1229 elevation.  Over the last 14yrs the lake has experienced some of the lowest water levels in probably 40yrs, due to the ongoing drought conditions in the West.  The low water condition has closed some launch ramps, so ask the national park service about ramp closures if you're not sure.   At 140t down, Callville Bay, Lake Mead Marina, Temple Bar, South Cove, and Hemenway ramps are still open.  Overton Marina, Las Vegas Marina, Echo Bay, Government Wash Launch, and Pearce Ferry are closed.   Las Vegas Marina and docks relocated to the Hemenway ramp and has been renamed Las Vegas Boat Harbor.   To see the latest water level info click here.


You may think that water socks will protect you from broken glass, right?  Not true all the time.  If you have ever experienced Lake Mead silt with the current low water levels you know how you can sink at the water's edge.  It's almost like quicksand, sucking you in, down to your ankles, sometimes up to your knees.   What happens next is your shoes are sucked right off your feet when you pull your feet up from this muck.  The next steps you take are typically struggling steps, wild and off balance steps, angry steps (because you just lost your shoes), and forceful steps with bare feet in your last ditch attempt to keep from embarrassing yourself by falling.  Yes, this is the receipt for injury, so be careful.  If you plan to be on the beach at Lake Mead we recommend buying water socks that tie on with laces or ZIP ON, do not think that slip-on water socks are adequate protection. If you wear slip-ons, bring spares.





The national park service has posted signs at the entrance to beaches, saying no glass bottled drinks are allowed.  Although this "no-bottle" restriction is a great idea, unfortunately the NPS implementation will only put a dent in this critical problem.  Here's why:

1.  Most visitors don't know about his rule until they have entered the park and arrived at the beach.  So who's going to throw away the contents of their ice chest, return to town (miles away) to buy canned drinks, just to comply with such a rule that has no consequences if caught?  NOBODY, that's who.  Most will just hide the drinks and keep on the lookout for the NPS.   Others just don't care.  This small sign is wishful thinking.  Although the NPS recognizes the problem it clearly doesn't even come close to fixing it.
2.  This "no bottles" safety rule is not publicized nearly enough by the NPS.  Have you ever heard of the rule before reading it here?  Shouldn't this be a nationwide policy?
3.  The NPS doesn't interrogate visitors about glass bottled drinks when you pay your entrance fee to enter the park (their focus is to collect your entrance money and keep the line moving).
4.  The NPS can't police this rule with all their other duties.  And you know what they say about laws/rules you can't enforce.... they're they're pretty much worthless.
5.  The NPS doesn't organize enough cleanup events to minimize the broken glass hazard.  (I found 3 very old beer bottles myself all within 50ft. of the water's edge).
6.  Boulder Beach is VERY rocky (see picture above), which is high risk for bottles getting broken if dropped.  The NPS should haul in pea-gravel for the swim beach (sand doesn't work, it gets blown away with the wind).

Just as an example, I visited Boulder Beach and drove around for 5 minutes on March 22, 2009.  This timeframe is the low season with few visitors.  During the short drive I found fresh examples of broken glass, as shown here in this picture to the right. Just a short distance were kids playing in the water.  Just imagine how it gets when thousands of visitors come to the lake.  It's clear to me the NPS isn't taking the glass bottle issue serious enough.


The NPS should be doing the following to fix this problem:

1.  Change the entrance sign to Lake Mead National park to read $250 fine for bringing bottled drinks in the National Park.  These signs should be LARGE, and posted in BIG FONT SIZE at every entrance gate, beach, marina, and lakeshore roads.
2.  Rangers should enforce it.  With the added revenue the money should be used to buy pea-gravel for the beach to make the beach less risk of injury to feet and knees when kids are playing.
3.  Make it illegal to have glass bottled drinks anywhere within the national park, not just the beach areas.  Is that really a big deal?
4.  Post a sign 500ft before entering park entrance gate stating any bottled drinks found will be taken before entry is allowed.
5.  EVERY visitor who pays their entrance fee should be VERBALLY warned about the glass bottle rule and fine, and handed a flyer showing statistics of injuries and helpful hints on prevention.
6.  Monthly cleanup events should be organized by the NPS, awarding season passes to those who help (
worth $20).
7.  The low water level is ideal to clean up and fix Boulder Beach.  They should remove all the big rocks and haul in pea-gravel to minimize exposure to broken glass already in the ground.  Yes, sand would be nice, but the NPS has tried this and said the wind blows it away over time.  So second best would be pea-gravel.  Pea-gravel would also be less painful walking versus all the rocks presently on the ground.

If you feel the same, email the National Park Service and give them your 2 cents worth.  Thank you for your support on this subject.  I think we would all like our families to be safe while on vacation at Lake Mead.