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Grand Canyon Access From Lake Mead

Some of the most unique Grand Canyon scenery and adventures are accessible from east end of Lake Mead, but it's not very accessible today.  In 2002 the water level became very low with the drought making the river access dangerously shallow, and a bit ugly with brown water.  We don't recommend it until the Lake Mead water level rises back up to 1180ft level, or higher.  Make sure you ask the locals in Meadview or Temple Bar before attempting this trip.  You can use some of the phone numbers below.


Cellphone coverage is spotty in these areas.  Verizon, Altel, Mohave Wireless, and Sprint work in some areas in the Meadview area.

Launching areas

 2008 New Gear



River access to the Grand Canyon starts near Pearce Ferry  (there's no ferry anymore, it's only a name) at the very east end of Lake Mead, just 8 miles from  Meadview in Arizona.  The launch ramp at Pearce Ferry is close until the water rises back up to about 1180.  Until then your only option is launching at South Cove, about 15mi away by water. 

Driving distances to Meadview, near South Cove and Pearce Ferry launch areas:

100 miles from Las Vegas, southeast past Hoover Dam.
85 miles from Laughlin NV, northeast.
65 miles from Kingman, almost due north
See our direction page and road MAP

Traveling up the Grand Canyon can get you away from all the crowds into an incredibly scenic environment on the water.  Camping is allowed on Lake Mead and Colorado River, but not recommended in the Grand Canyon.  Due to the changing river water levels you may find your boat high and dry when you wake up. 

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  Save up to 20% G.A.P Adventures

Boats and PWC

As of September 1998 personal watercraft are no longer allowed in the Grand Canyon, they must stay on Lake Mead.   Boats are allowed to cruise up the Colorado River into the Grand Canyon, such as the boat above.  It's best to use a jet boat.  We don't recommend outdrives in this area due to the remoteness to get help and the potential to run across shallow waters.

 You can go upriver 38 miles from Lake Mead at which point it's clearly marked by a buoy in the center of the river at Separation Canyon (near the picture above) stating "no upriver travel allowed".   This is absolutely beautiful country for hiking, photography, and fishing.   Seeing the Grand Canyon from inside the canyon is no comparison to seeing from the top of the South rim (like most tourists).   If you like vacant beaches, rugged mountains, and wild environments, good fishing, this could be for you.  Be forewarned, with the recent low lake water elevation the river is more brown colored than shown in the above pictures.

Another option to a small get boat is an inflatable fishing boat.  These are light weight boats that are easy to pick up and put back in the water if the water level fluctuates while you're on a hike, leaving your boat high and day.  With an inflatable an inflatable boat is problem, just be careful with the outboard motor in shallow areas.

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Below is the buoy at the entrance of the Grand Canyon where the river enters Lake Mead.  The buoy displays a map of the accessible part of the river showing how far you can navigate upriver.  This sign also signifies where the "no PWC" area starts going upriver.  In a boat (preferably a jet boat) you can travel upriver to Separation Canyon, but no farther.  You will be fighting about a 3 to 4mph down river current most of the way.  About 15 miles upriver the water gets a little rough, but at about 18 miles it smoothes out again (with 1150' lake elevation).   Check with the National Park Service about the water level in this area, some years it gets impassible, as it has been since 2004 with low lake levels. 

Buoy at the entrance of the Grand Canyon

N36 07.909'
W113 56.324'
See our Gregg Basin map for other local GPS coordinates

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For accommodations you can stay at nearby Meadview Lake Motel (928) 564-2343 or the Canyon's End Motel (928) 564-2525 for about $50-60/night.  It's not fancy, but clean.  RV's  can stay at the Meadview RV Park (928) 564-2662.   There are a few primitive campsites at Pearce Ferry (no hookups).   And of course....Gas, food, and ice are also available in Meadview.   Click for directions.

Gregg Basin is easily accessed from Meadview using the nearby South Cove launch ramp just 8 miles away.  South Cove has a nice cement ramp with 3 new paved parking lot including parking lot lights.  There are numerous sandy beaches nearby at Sand Point (1.5 mi. north of the ramp) and beyond.  No marina services are available at South Cove but Temple Bar marina is 15 miles away by water to the southwest.  See the Gregg Basin map.