NV – Lake Mead National Recreation Area . . . . Surprisingly Awesome Hiking

On my previous visit through the area, I don’t remember being motivated to venture out. One of things I recalled was Rogers Spring, an oasis in a stark arid environment. There is a nice trail at this location leading up into the hills.

The hills were alive with color on this trip. You’d never guess that a wimpy plant (Leafless Milkweed) when dispersed in mass could produce such color.

The northern end of Lake Mead (Overton Arm) is a visual indicator of what Hoover Dam created, leaving me with lots of questions. The high water mark is from 1983 with lowest levels reached in 2010 when the lake reached 37% capacity. Levels are now holding around 50%. Much of what was river valley is returning to it’s pre-reservoir status. Overton Road is closed; the once thriving resort areas of Echo and Callville Bays are now nearly ghost towns with noted ranger stations long ago closed. The entrance station near Valley of Fire is self-pay only with no way to validate your annual permit or to gather information about things such as road and trail conditions and dispersed camping regulations.

The park has quite a few maintained trail.

The Northshore Summit Trail was my favorite trail. The sign indicates it’s a quarter mile trail, but it continues for a long while. Nancy (WhyNot?!) and I were still traveling together and hiked this trail for a couple hours. Oh how I love hiking ridges! Those views were fantastic.

There is not a designated trail into the Bowl of Fire at this sign pullover location. The park map showed a hiker looking into the bowl. It didn’t take much detective work to find the well established route.

Late afternoon, early evening light captures the fire best.

As you can see morning light doesn’t capture the essence.

While not an official nor maintained trail, the route was easy to follow.

We had fun exploring once we entered the Bowl of Fire.

Look what I found, colorful geology plus flowers.

The Bluff Trail is on the western end of the lake near Las Vegas Bay.

This view is from the Bluffs Trail looking down at Las Vegas Bay, the outflow creek from Las Vegas Lake, and the Wetlands Trail.

It might not have been such a good idea to try to turn this into a loop hike.

Muddy Mountain Wilderness

There are a lot of old mining roads and washes to explore. Much of this area is just outside the park on BLM land but there is also a mix of private lands so it’s important to be respectful by not trespassing.

Look at this invite to rockhound.

Scars from mining activity.

Oh the color you might find walking washes.

I initially thought the pink mounds were mine tailings but nope natural sandstone formation.

Crazy how sometimes these washes run through slot canyons that once again invite further exploration.

There were a couple challenging spots that we had to work hard with body mechanics to up climb while also being very aware we’d need to down climb on our return.

With recent rains, we found a few pot holes including this one with tadpoles.

Lizards seem to like the washes also.

We found a few wildflowers on our jaunts.

I believe this was my first time seeing Matilija poppies.

We stopped by Hoover Dam. What a zoo. It felt like Disneyland with zillions of cars, buses and people. Not my scene! However, the views did provide a better view of the bathtub ring showing high water level.

We would have liked to walk the high memorial bridge but the crowds and parking made this an easy NO.

We didn’t take any of the paid tours, but found the design and mechanics interesting.

Before exiting Nevada, we drove through Red Rock Canyon. Although I avoid urban areas like Las Vegas, this was on my list and I’ll be back to hike. As it was Memorial Day, we elected to skip the crowds on this trip.

Still on my bucket list . . .

Adventure Date(s):

  • May 23-27, 2019


  • If you arrive from the north as we did, you’ll be hard pressed to find information about the park except for the map. The ranger stations at Echo Bay and Callville Bay appear to be permanently closed. You won’t get your annual or senior pass validated until you reach the entrance station near Boulder City.
  • Dispersed camping is NOT known as such in this park. There was nothing listed on map or on their website. This was my first experience getting busted for camping in an illegal spot. The Law Enforcement Rangers informed us we were responsible for knowing the Superintendent’s Compendium, seriously? Once home, I also found a link on their site for backcountry camping which states “Vehicle camping is permitted at designated backcountry campsites only.” Of course not very helpful unless you have the associated map.
  • Showers and WiFi are available at the campgrounds. We used the showers at Callville Bay. $1.50 for 6 minutes.
  • Gas and groceries are available in Overton.
  • Bring a rock hammer if you want to search for gems. One sign talked about agates.



4 thoughts on “NV – Lake Mead National Recreation Area . . . . Surprisingly Awesome Hiking

  1. What beautiful and fascinating geology! I love Nancy’s knee-hi pants! What brand are they and where did she get them?

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