Lake Mead General Info


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hovrdam2.jpg (29090 bytes)

This picture shows the Hoover Dam visitor center on the left, costing $125 million dollars (in today's money).  In comparison the whole dam originally cost $150 million (in 1930's money).  Ok, Ok..... maybe it's not a fair comparison.   The new visitor  center is fully supported and being paid for by dam tours, priced at $11/person (it use to be $2/person), so no tax dollars are being used.

Read about Hoover Dam below and don't miss the opportunity for a tour if you are nearby in Las Vegas.   The tours usually costs less than those one arm bandits, not to mention you will have fond memories of the dam.

Lake Mead history, trivia
Lake Mead overview
Virgin Basin
Temple Basin
Gregg Basin
Overton Arm
Boulder Basin
Lake Mead weather forecast

Boulder City, Nevada

Boulder City, the country's first planned community is near Hoover Dam and only 4 miles from the Alan Bible visitor center at Lake Mead.  A variety of services and accommodations are available in this friendly community.   Unique in Nevada, this quaint little town is the only city in the state without gambling, which can be attractive for the family oriented lake visit.    Click this link to annual events which provides dates and phone numbers for events scheduled in Boulder City.

Henderson, Nevada

Henderson, one of the fastest growing cities in the country is only 7 miles from Las Vegas Bay Marina at Lake Mead.  With it's own 1 million square foot mall, "The Galleria", it has major department stores, specialty shops, and restaurants.   Another key attraction in Henderson is the  Green Valley Town Center, a 70-acre family fun and entertainment center.  Choose from  miniature golf, roller skating, or race cars for some serious playtime. The town center also has restaurants, an eight screen theater, and a variety of other unique shops and entertainment related businesses.  Who needs Vegas?

Lake Mead history and trivia

Lake Mead was the first of four fantastic lakes created by man on the Colorado River by building  Hoover Dam.   This dam was started in 1931 and finished in 1935, 2 years ahead of schedule.  In the process 110 men lost their life from the dangerous work environment. Hoover Dam was the first dam to tame the wild Colorado River and the biggest dam of its time at 726’ high, 1224 wide at the top, 660’ thick at the base,   45' thick at the top.  It contains a massive 3.25 million cubic yards of concrete, truly an engineering marvel even by today's standards.  Make sure you visit the new Hoover Dam visitors center and take the $11/person tour (plus $7 for parking).   If you can afford it, take the long tour for $30.  It's the best dam tour around, you'll talk about it for years.   To get an idea of what you'll see, here is a link for  Hoover Dam to learn more.   If you visit the dam, we suggest you stop by  the Alan Bible Visitor Center which is on the way coming from Vegas, just 4 miles northeast of Boulder city on US Hwy 93.  Ask to see the free 30 minute movie about the construction of Hoover Dam.  This movie is an excellent prelude to the Hoover Dam tour.  Trust me on that.

After the dam was built the landscape changed immediately. The waters of the backed-up Colorado spread into valleys and basins, flooding lowlands and turning dry cliffs into lake shores.

Human geography changed too as the project opened the West with irrigation, flood control, drinking and industrial water, not to mention hydroelectric power. Today Lake Mead irrigates more than one million acres in the United States and Mexico. The lake's water can reach kitchens in Tucson, lawns in Los Angeles, or farms of the Imperial and Mexicali valleys. Hoover Dam has clearly been the foundation of the population and economic growth for the Southwest over the last 70yrs. 

The Hoover dam gained control of the mighty Colorado river, taming it's potential to wreak havoc on farmland and local residence. An example is the formation of the Salton Sea in 1905 before the dam was built when the Colorado River overflowed the Imperial Valley dike, flooding an ancient lake bed and a Salt Mine that was once the source of salt for Southern California.

If you're visiting Las Vegas from far away, make sure you plan a full day to visit Lake Mead, Hoover Dam, and the surrounding points of interest which you can pre-discover in these web pages.  You haven't visited Nevada till you see Lake Mead, only 40 minutes from Las Vegas.  If you want to break away from Las Vegas glamour, or just trying to find a room during CES or COMDEX, try staying at a hotel closer to Lake Mead in nearby Henderson, or Boulder City.  These are the two closest cities with lodging available just minutes from the Lake. 

Lake Mead

Lake Mead is in a beautiful desert environment with over 550 miles of shoreline when full.  The lake is made up of 5 sections of basins and arms as described below.  It offers a variety of boating, skiing, swimming, fishing, photography, and sightseeing opportunities.  Lake Mead’s surrounding desert offers many hiking trails and occasional opportunities for wildlife photography.  Lake Mead is one of the largest man made lakes in the world with over 157,000 acres of water (247 sq. mi.).   When full it can hold over 28 million acre-feet of water (9 trillion gallons), the equivalent to about 2 years of normal average river flow from the Colorado River.  Best of all it’s a water skiers haven  with glassy water conditions very common in the morning and late afternoon.

PWC are allowed on Lake Mead but there are a few off limit areas.  Click here to download a pdf National Park map showing these restrictions.  

Virgin Basin

Virgin Basin is the center of the lake with four arms, or basins that surround it. Virgin Basin is a huge wide area with many beaches surrounding. There is limited road access to this area,  located on the south side at Bonelli Landing and Detrital Wash,   it's a long drive and a dirt road for the last 7 miles.  The Virgin Basin  generally has less people because of this minimal road access with no launch ramps.

Temple Basin

Temple Basin lies east of the Virgin Basin.  If seclusion is your desire just head to Temple Basin. Coves and bays abound for any kind of water activity you have in mind. Temple Bar Marina is located on this secluded part of the lake with gas, restaurant, launch ramp, store, and ice. Slips and motel rooms are available too but call ahead for reservations (~$80/night). Although Temple Bar Marina is farther to drive, (about 45 miles from Hoover Dam) it's worth it if you want to "get away from it all".   For those coming from Flagstaff or Phoenix,  Temple Bar is the place to go since it's the nearest resort coming from that direction. 

Gregg Basin

Gregg Basin lies east of Temple Basin. Even more remote than Temple Basin, a very nice location for those with houseboats for long stays.    Sandy Point is a popular camping area in the Gregg Basin because of it’s large sandy beaches. But as remote as Sandy Point is,  this area can be a crowded gathering center with good temperatures during long weekends.  See information on this part of the lake with these links to South Cove launch, Meadview, and Grand Canyon.

Overton Arm

Overton Arm lies north of the Virgin Basin. Stretching 25+ miles north of Virgin Basin, the Overton arm is the preferred area for local Las Vegas residents due it’s nice beaches and being less crowded than Boulder Basin. Overton Marina is now closed at the northern end of the Overton Arm due to low water conditions. Echo Bay Marina is open and offers boat slips, gas, and marina stores.  Echo Bay has a clean motel (~$100/night) with a good restaurant.

Boulder Basin

Boulder Basin is the busiest section of the lake because of close proximity for visitors coming from California. Three marinas are available in this area. Las Vegas Boat Harbor, Lake Mead Marina, and Callville Bay marina.  Slips, marina stores, and RV Campgrounds are available at this popular area.  This area is also popular due to hotels being close by in Boulder City and Henderson


It's extremely important to check the forecast before leaving for Lake Mead.  Weather forecasts can be obtained by calling (702) 736-3854 for the National Weather Service.  You can get "real time" weather conditions by calling the Wind Talker monitoring system.  If you're in the Lake Mead area, monitoring 162.55Mhz will also provide the local forecast from the National Weather Service.   Las Vegas' current weather conditions along with a 5 day forecast can be accessed using this link to the Weather Channel.   Las Vegas is only 30 miles from Lake Mead, so their forecast can somewhat help you gauge the likelihood of major storms at Lake Mead for your trip.

Useful Phone numbers

Click this link for  phone numbers.  This includes numbers for marinas, police, hospitals, city government, national park service, and the Lake Mead Alan Bible visitor center....just to mention a few. If general information is what you're looking form, call the Alan Bible Visitor Center, (702) 293-8990. They are a great resource for knowledge of the area (besides Riverlakes ;-)














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