Less than an hour outside Las Vegas is Lake Mead, a beautiful natural area where you can get a break from the activity of the Strip. If you find yourself itching for some time in nature and away from the crowds, a visit to a Lake Mead beach could be just the ticket! It’s one of the best things to do in Nevada.
The Lake Mead National Recreation Area covers nearly 1.5 million acres of shorelines, piers, wilderness areas, and hiking trails. It also encompasses the entirety of Lake Mead, the reservoir created by the Hoover Dam.
This guide includes the top things to do at Lake Mead, including the best hikes, activities, and nearby attractions like Boulder City and Hoover Dam. I’ll also share the best Lake Mead campgrounds to check out if you want to stay here longer.
1. Visitor’s Center, the first thing you should do at Lake Mead
The first thing to do at Lake Mead is to go to the Lake Mead Visitor’s Center. Here, you can find free maps, brochures, and a relief exhibit of the recreation area. The display includes information about the local wildlife, and you can also watch a short film about the desert species in the area.
Rangers and staff at the center can give you more info and tips for your trip, and you can peruse souvenirs, including Native American art and jewelry. Outside the center, there is a short trail you can take to get acquainted with the surroundings.
The Visitor’s Center is right off US Highway 93 and is open daily from 9 am to 4:30 pm.
2. Boating, something fun to do at Lake Mead
One of the most popular things to do on Lake Mead is to go boating. There are nearly 300 square miles of open water, coves, and waterways here waiting to be explored.
Throughout Lake Mead National Recreation Area, you can find piers and marinas with boat rentals. You may opt for a serene Lake Mead cruise or satisfy your need for speed on a sport boat. Other Lake Mead boat rentals include fishing boats, paddle boats, and pontoon boats.
If you want to rent a boat on Lake Mead, you can do so at Calville Bay, Cottonwood Cove, Hemenway Harbor, Katherine Landing, PWC Beach, Temple Bar, and Willow Beach.
3. Camp at one of the lovely Lake Mead campgrounds
For an overnight adventure, rent an RV in Las Vegas and stay at a Lake Mead campground. You can find tent and RV camping at Lake Mead‘s 15 different sites.
Falling asleep in the wilderness with views of the lake is quite a different experience from sleeping in Sin City. About half of the campsites have showers, and most of them are close to beautiful hiking trails.
If you’re not sure where to stay in Lake Mead, some popular spots include Boulder Beach Campground, Calville Bay Campground, and Echo Bay Campground. Campground fees are $20 per site, and several are first-come, first-serve.
We have a complete guide on where to camp in Las Vegas, although if you don’t want to camp at Lake Mead, you can stay at the Hoover Dam Lodge, Westin Lake Las Vegas Resort, or Hilton Lake Las Vegas Resort & Spa.
4. Take a hike, another nice thing to do around Lake Mead, NV
Another must-do at Lake Mead is to go hiking. The majority of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area encompasses the Mojave Desert, so you’ll find lots of great Lake Mead hiking trails.
There are hikes in Lake Mead for all levels, and you can take guided hikes through the canyons and gravel washes. The family-friendly Historic Railroad Trail and the challenging Arizona Hot Springs route are two of the best hikes in Las Vegas and are worth checking out.
Some other popular hikes around Lake Mead include Owl Canyon, the St. Thomas trail, and the Goldstrike Canyon route.
5. Go kayaking, a popular thing to do on Lake Mead
If boating isn’t quite your thing, you may like kayaking on Lake Mead. You can see the park in a new way as you float along the Colorado River, past mountains, and into hidden caves.
You can bring your own kayak or rent one and, along with Lake Mead kayak rentals, you may also choose from a range of canoes and paddleboards. Another option is this 3-hour kayaking tour in a clear-bottomed kayak. You’ll explore the Black Canyon National Water Trail, a 30-mile stretch of the Colorado River.
Black Canyon is a gorgeous natural area of coves, hot springs, and tranquil scenery. You may even spot bighorn sheep and other animals on the surrounding cliffs.
6. Do some water sports, a typical thing to do at Lake Mead
A fun thing to do at Lake Mead, especially with family or friends, is to do some water sports. You can find jet ski rentals at Lake Mead, along with paddleboarding, wakeboarding, waterskiing, and tubing rentals.
Another unique experience is scuba diving at Lake Mead. Both Lake Mead and neighboring Lake Mohave are favored among divers. Two popular scuba diving spots are Black Canyon and Scuba Beach at North Boulder Beach.
And if water sports are a bit too wild for you, Lake Mead’s swimming beaches are some of the best beaches in Las Vegas. Boulder Beach and Willow Beach, in particular, are very popular.
7. Hit the biking trails, a great way to see Lake Mead
Back on land, biking is another favorite Lake Mead activity among visitors. The Lake Mead area includes several bike routes and backcountry trails for you to explore on two wheels.
For example, you can bike along the River Mountains Loop, which circles the River Mountains and goes past Lake Mead, Hoover Dam, and Boulder City. The Historic Railroad Trail, one of the best hikes in Vegas, is also bikeable and boasts panoramic views of the lake.
You can find bike rental shops right outside the Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Henderson and Boulder City, NV. As an alternative, you might like this Lake Mead ATV tour, which includes hotel pick-up from Vegas and 3 hours of ATV driving along Lake Mead.
8. Go fishing, another thing to do in Lake Mead
Another outdoorsy thing to do at Lake Mead is to go fishing. The freshwater lake is home to dozens of fish species, including catfish, crappie, largemouth bass, rainbow trout, smallmouth bass, striped bass, and sunfish. The striped bass, in particular, are quite famous, as they can reach over 40 lbs.
You can go fishing on Lake Mead at Willow Beach, Katherine Landing, and Hemenway Fishing Pier.
9. Northshore Road, Lake Mead’s scenic drive
Driving along Northshore Road is a leisurely thing to do at Lake Mead, whether you’re alone or with friends. Spanning nearly 50 miles, Northshore Road can be a fun way to take a self-guided tour of Lake Mead.
The road goes past historical landmarks and a variety of landscapes ranging from flat plains to rocky boulders. As you travel along the scenic drive, you can stop at the panoramic Lake Mead overlooks and take a short hike from one of the trailheads.
Another route you’ll probably take during your visit to Lake Mead is Lakeshore Road. It serves as the main thoroughfare and winds past the Visitor’s Center, Las Vegas Bay, and several lookouts, marinas, and campgrounds.
10. Visit Boulder City & Hoover Dam, something to do near Lake Mead
While there are lots of things to do at Lake Mead, the area is also close to Boulder City, another place worth visiting. This historic city is home to museums, attractions, restaurants, and parks, so you could easily spend a day here.
Moreover, Boulder City is right next to the Hoover Dam, which I highly recommend checking out. After all, without the Hoover Dam, Lake Mead wouldn’t exist. One of the best tours to the dam is this half-day trip, although you can find several other great Hoover Dam tours from Las Vegas.
FAQs – Things to do at Lake Mead
Now you know the best things to do at Lake Mead. If you still have concerns, here are the answers to some common questions.
Lake Mead is on the Colorado River, next to the Hoover Dam.
Lake Mead is about 20 miles east of Las Vegas, so it takes about 30 minutes to get there.
Lake Mead was the result of the Hoover Dam’s construction, which blocked the flow of the Colorado River.
Lake Mead National Recreation Area spans nearly 1.5 million acres in Arizona and Nevada.
Currently, Lake Mead is at 36% of its original capacity, and experts predict that Lake Mead’s water levels will continue to drop. Some say that the lake will eventually run dry.
Lake Mead map
Finally, here is a map of Lake Mead with all the activities and attractions I mentioned. Feel free to download it and keep it handy on your phone.
I hope this article helps you plan your visit and some fun things to do at Lake Mead! If you have any questions, feel free to leave me a comment. Have a safe trip!