Lake Mead National Recreation Area

It’s been a while since I last posted. We’ve been covering lots of ground visiting family, which I’ll get to in another post, and there hasn’t been much time to write. But I realized I never posted this blog about our great time at Lake Mead in April. Reading it over, I’m wishing I was back there right now…

Las Vegas Bay Campground
Nights: 2

After boondocking at Trona Pinnacles we needed a place to dump our tanks and get fresh water. We also needed a city so we could run errands (Easter basket traditions must live on!). Las Vegas Bay Campground on Lake Mead didn’t get great reviews, but it was close to Henderson, a suburb of Las Vegas with lots of shopping.

As we were driving toward Henderson we were following the tail end of a huge storm that dropped hail and rain on Vegas. Luckily we only caught a little of the rain and by the time we made it to the campground it had cleared up. We had our pick of spots since much of the place was empty.

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Sadly this campground had an abandoned, sketchy feel to it. We couldn’t quite put our finger on why, but it partly had to do with a couple of run down trailers that looked like they had been parked there a while. This campground had the longest stay limit we have ever seen, 30 days, and they looked like they had been there longer than that. Plus this wasn’t a campground active with people walking their dogs or anything. We did see the host a couple of times out pruning the landscaping and there was a great view from our site, but it just didn’t feel like a place we wanted to hang out much. That’s ok. We were here to get things done.

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Reading the park brochure I discovered we were only 10 miles from Hoover Dam so we decided to go there first thing in the morning. Of course for us that means about 10 am. 🙂  I had been once as a kid, but didn’t remember much about it and I have to say it wasn’t what I was expecting. Other dams we have seen are massive and can be viewed from a distance. Hoover Dam, while very tall, is wedged in a narrow canyon. It was crazy-filled with people like Disneyland. For some reason I thought there would be a big parking lot and a visitor’s center that overlooked the dam, but parking was $10 or in a couple of small lots on the hillside.

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As close as we got to the visitor’s center.

They do however let you drive across the dam. So after going through the security check-point and letting them look at all the gear stowed under our bed cover, we followed the line of cars winding their way down into the canyon, across the dam while avoiding the pedestrians crossing, and up the other side to a viewpoint high above.

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That white “bathtub ring” is the high mark the lake reached in the 1980s.

I snapped photos out the window and we parked on the hill, but didn’t want to trek all the way down to the visitor’s center with Chuck’s bum knee and all the throngs of people to contend with.

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View from the free parking lot way above the dam.

So we were satisfied to see what we did and headed back across. Instead we stopped at the small Lake Mead Visitor’s center which was pretty informative.

Then we headed into Henderson to get some lunch. We wanted to go to REI so found a BBQ place nearby that wasn’t great. Traffic and lots of freeways in Henderson made us want to get out of there. It just didn’t seem like a great area. We shopped for Easter goodies for our daughters’ baskets, did a grocery run, stopped at the post office and headed back to the trailer.

Stewart’s Point
Nights: 7
Campfires: 1

The next morning we were hitched up and ready to leave the area. As we headed north through the park we got a big surprise. This area is stunningly beautiful. Colorful cliffs rise out of the desert and wildflowers dot the side of the road. If you’re ever in Las Vegas I recommend taking the drive along the western side of Lake Mead and exploring the natural beauty of the area.

Our destination was Stewart’s Point, a very large boondocking area at the northwestern edge of Lake Mead. It was strange driving in because you suddenly enter a section of houses before coming to the boondocking area, but it turned out to be perfect. We parked the trailer and took the bikes around to explore since there were huge ruts in many of the roads. We settled on a large open gravel area on a high point overlooking the shoreline and the distant mountains on the other side. Turned out to be a great spot with views all around.

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There is plenty of room here to explore and all sorts of cool pebbles to discover underfoot, even some kind of small white shells. Just like at Trona, we had very strong winds one day making it hard to go outside (I guess that’s just something you find in the desert), but other days we rode bikes around and sat outside enjoying the views.

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Taken with NightCap Pro. Stars mode, 10.06 second exposure.
The full moon over the lake was awesome!

Another Airstream pulled into a spot nearby and soon we met Rhonda and Bruce, full-time RVers for 8.5 years. They invited us over for a delicious dinner in their vintage trailer. Bruce made chili and homemade gluten free cornbread, yum! We swapped stories for quite a while and hope to cross paths again so we can return their hospitality.

We took a very worthwhile trip to Valley of the Fire State Park. It is only about 12 miles away, but a whole different world of amazing red rock scenery.

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We drove out the White Domes Scenic Byway. It was a beautiful drive and we were surprised when the stunning red rocks gave way to pastel ridges of white and peach and gold.

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The hike down into the canyon was definitely worth it. This is another place that has provided a backdrop for movies. The way the wind and water have eroded the sandstone it so cool.

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In another part of the park we found these cool rock cabins build by the CCC in an area with petroglyphs.

Another day we walked the short 1/2 mile loop around Redstone, a smaller area of red sandstone in Lake Mead. It’s a nice picnic stop if you take the drive to explore the lake.

We celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary while we were here. I never would have thought that this is where we would end up all these years later. Chuck kept saying let’s spend the whole day together for our anniversary. Ha Ha. We do that every day.

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But to make it special we opened a bottle of wine, broke out some appetizers and enjoyed the view. And after dinner we lit a campfire. We’ve only had 3 or 4 campfires since hitting the road. We don’t really like to end up smelling like smoke, but once in a while a spot really calls out for a campfire and this was one of them. It was a fitting end to our special day.

Taken with NightCap Pro. Long Exposure mode, 6.69 second exposure.

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