A Month At Lake Mead National Recreation Area

From Mojave National Preserve we drove to Las Vegas – more specifically Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Henderson, NV. We picked that location because we needed to stay somewhere that wouldn’t freeze and was close to a major city. After so much consistent traveling, we had to be in one place to get things done.

My initial thought after seeing Government Wash, our boondock site at Lake Mead, was that it looked like the place had blown up. There were rocks everywhere. Everything was made of rocks. Rocks were pushed into thigh-high piles to create road medians, boundary lines, ditches, etc. It eventually hit me that it’s a wash so it’s supposed to be covered in rocks!

Rocks everywhere! And our Alpacka also makes a comfortable couch.

Rocks everywhere! And our Alpacka also makes a comfortable couch.

But our site had a great view of the lake, we got to see quail scurrying bush to bush, we had a pack of coyotes that would make their nightly rounds, and each evening we’d listen to them howl to another pack across the lake. We ended up really enjoying our stay in the area.

This was the view from our boondocking site at Government Wash.

Two of the five coyotes that we saw wandering around Government Wash.

We tried to get a little bit of everything in while completing the projects we were in town for.

 

River Mountains Loop

Shortly after arriving we learned about the River Mountains Loop, which is a 34 mile paved path that connects Lake Mead, Boulder City and Henderson. We got the dog trailer out and checked out the towns via the path.

Tyki ran short spurts of the trail and rode in the trailer with Tybee the other times.

The loop is entirely paved and separated from car traffic.

Water break at the Lake Mead visitor center.

Water break at the Lake Mead visitor center.

View of Las Vegas from the loop.

View of Las Vegas from the loop.

Best path lights ever - the lights are on dimly all the time, but brighten when they detect motion.

Best path lights ever - the lights are on dimly all the time, but brighten when they detect motion.

Tip:

  • River Mountains Loop has four places to fill up on water. We saw three of them. Here's the map for the loop.

 

Bluffs Trail

 Bluffs trail starts at the Las Vegas Bay Campground in Lake Mead National Recreation Area. It’s a short 1.8 mile roundtrip that overlooks Las Vegas Wash, which is very lush thanks to the river below.

 
View of Las Vegas Wash from the trail.

View of Las Vegas Wash from the trail.

 
Looking out at Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

Looking out at Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

Tip:

  • There are a couple of parking spots at the Bluffs trailhead so there’s no need to park in a campsite.

 

Lake Mead

It’s rare for us to do anything without either dog, but we decided to go paddling on Lake Mead and leave the dogs at home. Interesting fact: there are wrecks of three planes at the bottom of Lake Mead.

There's a lot more space in our Alpacka when the dogs aren't also in it.

There's a lot more space in our Alpacka when the dogs aren't also in it.

Tons of birds on the lake.

To make up for not bringing them paddling, they got to swim instead.

Tybee absolutely loves the water.

Tyki is still skeptical about it.

Tip:

  • Wear warm clothes when paddling Lake Mead during the winter, the weather is warm, but the water is still cold thanks to the Colorado River.

 

Hoover Dam

You can’t be in the area and not check out Hoover Dam, a huge feat during its time and for a long time after.

The architecture is really beautiful.

Where the water level was at one point (and hasn't been again since the 1990s).

 
View of the Colorado River while standing at the top of the dam.

View of the Colorado River while standing at the top of the dam.

 

Tip:

  • Dogs are not allowed on the dam. There are also a couple of free parking lots at the dam if you don’t want to pay to park inside the parking garage.

 

Bootleg Canyon

IMBA has designated Bootleg Canyon as an IMBA Epic. With 36 miles of cross-country and downhill trails, we only got to check out a fraction of them.

One of the cross-country trails.

One of the cross-country trails.

Tip:

 

Aluminarium & Backroad Bennetts

The only shot we got from dinner because we were to busy yapping away.

The only shot we got from dinner because we were to busy yapping away.

We had exchanged emails with Aluminarium a few months back when I had submitted a boondocking site review for Campendium – the website they run. Through Instagram I found out that they were also staying at Government Wash so I emailed them to hang out. Also through Instagram I found out that Backroad Bennetts, who I had been following on IG for awhile, were also in the area. So we all got together for dinner and hung out.

 
Leigh and Brian of Aluminarium.

Leigh and Brian of Aluminarium.

 Move over to 8 Mile

Government Wash has a 15 day stay limit but since we were planning to be in the area for a month, we needed to move. 8 Mile is another area 3 miles down the road from Government Wash that also allows boondocking (and has cell services) so we moved there once our 15 days were up (a ranger came by every couple of days to keep track of people’s stay). Technically 8 Mile is only a 7 day stay, but even though a ranger drove by a few times they never said anything to us. So we stayed at 8 Mile until it was time to leave Las Vegas. Backroad Bennetts came and stayed there for awhile too, it was nice to have them as neighbors.

Our very long site at 8 Mile.

Exploring the area.

View of Lake Mead from the top of the hill at 8 Mile.

View of Lake Mead from the top of the hill at 8 Mile.

Red Rock Canyon

Being at Red Rock Canyon made us wish we had brought more than just our climbing shoes and harnesses on the road. But we checked out the area and hiked Calico Hills and Keystone Thrust.

180 million years ago these rocks were red sand dunes.

180 million years ago these rocks were red sand dunes.

Red Rock Canyon is famous for its great rock climbing.

The park handout describes the Keystone Thrust trail as having a “significant geological feature”, but we never saw any mention of this feature through the entire trail.

Republican protest

Sarah, Ty, Luna and Aki (Backroad Bennetts) invited us to join them protesting at the republican debate that was happening in Las Vegas. Sounded like a lot of fun so we said yes!

Sarak, Luna, Aki and Ty (left to right). Sarah made the awesome signs.

Sarak, Luna, Aki and Ty (left to right). Sarah made the awesome signs.

I think the picture speaks for itself.

General Area Tip:

  • We rented a mailbox at Perk n' Post (located at Lake Las Vegas) for $20/month so we could easily receive mail while we were in town. Perk & Post will also receive mail for you if you don’t have a mailbox, but charges per package.

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