Spotlight: Hoover Dam and Lake Mead National Recreation Area
One of America’s modern civil engineering wonders and the largest reservoir in the U.S.
What You’ll Find
These two iconic Nevada locations are about 40 minutes southeast of Las Vegas and offer recreation and tour opportunities that will leave a lasting impression. Formed by the Hoover Dam, Lake Mead is the largest reservoir in the United States and became the nation’s first national recreation area in 1964. Five marinas offer access to Lake Mead (and Lake Mohave formed by Davis Dam, below Hoover), with year-round activities including boating, water skiing, canoeing, kayaking and scuba diving. Along the lakes’ shores you’ll find opportunities to camp, bike and hike.
Located on the Nevada and Arizona border, Hoover Dam releases the Colorado River—an important water and energy source for Nevada, Arizona and California. A million visitors tour inside the dam walls each year and learn its history. Don’t miss the opportunity to also walk along the top of the dam, named one of America's Seven Modern Civil Engineering Wonders. For spectacular views of Black Canyon and Hoover Dam, take a short side trip to the Mike O' Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, the highest concrete arch bridge in the world.
There are nine main access points to Lake Mead National Recreation Area, which includes two lakes and more than 1.5 million acres. The Lake Mead Visitor Center is located off of U.S. 93, four miles southeast of Boulder City, Nevada. Visit Lake Mead NRA for more details and maps.
Hoover Dam is located about seven miles southeast of Boulder City. From U.S. 93 take NV SR 172 to the dam along the Nevada/Arizona border. Take a few minutes to read Visiting Hoover Dam traveler’s guide to learn about traveling to and across the dam.
Make Sure You
Check out our Destination Las Vegas and Beyond itinerary for dozens of other federal land locations and attractions. Our local experts knit together the best the Las Vegas area has to offer to help round out your trip itinerary.
You may want to escape to higher ground and take a chance on an encounter with a bighorn sheep in the Mount Wilson Wilderness Area next to Lake Mead. The area’s forbidding and stark landscape contains several dependable springs which sustain a surprisingly wide variety of wildlife.
There are hundreds of campsites around Lake Mead that are open year round. And, nearby Lake Mohave also offers more than 300 campsites and 29 RV hookups for more camping options. For additional information visit the NPS fees and reservation information page as well as the campground information page for more helpful tips.
Nevada is a desert environment and can rise to temperatures into the 100s during the summer months. It is critical to drink plenty of water, seek shade and use sunscreen liberally.