Lake Mead National Recreation Area is known as ‘America’s most diverse National Recreation Area.’ Only about 30 miles from the Las Vegas Strip, on the border between Arizona and Nevada is one of the world’s largest manmade lakes. There are nine main access points. The Lake Mead Visitor Center is located off of U.S. 93, four miles southeast of Boulder City, Nevada.
The best time to visit for getting out on the hiking trails is between November and March. Below you will find my Favorite hikes in these two areas.
Lake Mead Recreation Area
~ Lakeshore Area
1) White Owl Canyon – moderate, 2.2 mi round trip. White Owl Canyon is a short slot canyon known for its population of barn owls. This hike follows the shoreline of Lake Mead. The canyon was named for the white owls (Barn Owls) that live in the canyon. We didn’t see owl but saw crows and “white wash” (owl poop) on the rock walls. Watch the ground for pellets, oblong clumps of bone and fur which is owl barf.
2) Historic Railroad Trail – easy, 7.5 mi RT. This is a fairly long hike but on level ground with amazing views! It is an easy hike through 5 historic railroad tunnels that eventually ends at the Hoover Dam. On one clear day we saw baby bats inside the tunnel and that was very interesting. We added another 2.5 miles to go all the way to the dam and memorial bridge. You are allowed to take your bicycle or your pets, the trails are level.
~ Northshore Area
3) Northshore Summit Trail – moderate, .50 mi RT and simply gorgeous views! Once you are within Lake Mead National Recreation Area just past the 20-mile marker on Northshore Road traveling north. This trail is less than one mile beginning at a high altitude. Traveling the entire beautiful trail is about 0.3 miles with a total elevation gain of 100 feet. There is parking on the trailhead.
The trail climbs from the parking area to a nearby hilltop with an amazing dramatic panoramic view of the Muddy Mountains, the red rocks of Bowl of Fire, Bitter Valley and the Virgin Basin. Northshore Peak is best climbed on cooler months from October-May. The summer months are extremely hot.
4) Redstone Trail – easy .57 mi RT and enjoy taking in the views. The area is between gray and brown mountains in the Pinto Valley Wilderness. The abundance of huge red rocks is off Northshore Road at mile marker 27 in the Overton Arm.
Redstone features sandstone, limestone, volcanic rock, and a half-mile trail that features more than 200 million years of geology that’s waiting to be discovered by more tourists and locals.
5) Bowl of Fire – It is about 7.8 miles long and begins at a very high altitude. Traveling the entire trail is about 11.3 miles with elevation. We hiked North and South bowl of fire that took us almost 7 hours and almost 10 miles round trip because we were exploring but you could hike as far as you want and turn back. This is a strenuous hike.
From Las Vegas, take U.S. Highway 93/95 south to Lake Mead Drive. Go east on state Route 146 for about 10 miles to the Lake Mead National Recreation Area’s entrance station, where you will either pay an admission fee or show a pass if you have it. Then drive three-tenths of a mile and go left onto Northshore Road.
From the parking area, head northwest toward the prominent limestone ridge, just follow that path west. Once around this small formation you will be able to see the red rock sandstone outcropping – the Bowl of Fire, which will be your destination.
Take plenty of water, food and wear sunscreen.
~ Lake Mohave Area
5) Goldstrike – very strenuous, 5.2 mi and if you want a full body workout this is the hike. The hike in my opinion is moderately strenous, you need the ability to lift yourself up when you are scrambling up with or without the ropes. There are scramblings and is Class 2 some class 3 with ropes. Wear sturdy hiking shoes, bring gloves, swim suits for soaking in hotsprings and carry lots of water.
6) Arizona Hot Springs – est 5 mi and the trail-head is located a half-mile past the Hoover Dam lodge hotel in Boulder City– just before the Hoover Dam. You will hike through a picturesque slot canyon with towering walls on each side.
The hike requires climbing over several massive boulders. It’s somewhat like an obstacle course and that was fun. Ropes are attached in some of the more challenging places as an added measure of safety. Don’t overestimate your abilities on this hike. It should take about 5 hours round trip but will depend upon how much time you spend in the hot springs and at the river. It is good idea to take dry clothes for the return trip to the trailhead, so you won’t have to hike in wet clothes. You’ll be using all of your major muscle groups so expect to get a full body workout. There are about 8 ropes and 4-5 hot springs.
7) Liberty Bell Arch – strenuous, est 5.5 mi and the hike is located along Highway 93, south of the Hoover Dam. There is a fair amount of up and down, and there is some scrambling and there’s a good amount of walking through sand & gravel. You will be using the same trail-head as if you are going to Arizona Hot Springs.
Keep following the trail, you approach Liberty Bell Arch, which is a natural erosion of rock that resembles the Liberty bell. In the distance, you’ll see the new O’Callaghan-Tillman Memorial Bridge that bypasses Hoover Dam. From the arch, continue following the trail as it goes up some ridges as you ascend to the highest point of the hike. The view from here is amazing. Below is the Colorado River separating Arizona and Nevada. It truly is an incredible sight as you look about 1,000 feet below and see boats and kayaks on the river.
VALLEY OF FIRE
Valley of Fire State Park is an impressive and colorful spot located in Nevada, just one hour from Las Vegas in Overton NV.
1) Fire Wave – Once you enter the park, go to parking lot #3 and on the opposite side is the trail. It is also known as “The Wave”, and parts of it looks like slices of bacon.
The hike is 1.5 mile and starts on a white sand trail leading toward a rocky hill. Once the trail swings around the hill, the fire looking ground comes into view. You will see red and white striated formations stretch into the distance and become the trail. Just follow the main established trail and you will soon be walking in an increasingly dramatic and out of the world landscape.
2) White Domes Loop – This hike is great for beginners. There are lots of climbing and scrambling on this trail and lots of photo opportunities. White Domes Day Use Area has picnic tables and bathrooms. Such amazing colors, and rock formations everywhere you look even a slot canyon.
There are many small arches along the entire trail. Oh there is also a sign that says this area was used to film a Star Trek movie. You can make this hike very easy or challenging by playing on the rocks and scrambling. The best time is going during winter between May – September.
3) Mouse’s Tank – is a short and mostly flat trail travels through Petroglyph Canyon. Pay attention on the walls of the canyon that offers an impressive display of ancient petroglyphs. The trail ends at Mouse’s Tank where the terrain creates a small pool that collects rainwater. It’s easy and the distance is on 0.7 miles (out and back).
4) Elephant Rock is a quick stop on your Valley of Fire visit. This unique rock formation can be seen from the main road, or you can take a quick 1/2 mile walk and leads you to the road where you can view the rock from below.
5) Rainbow Vista – This short, flat 1.1 mile trail takes you through the sandy landscape to a set of beautiful color-streaked rocks. You might come across wedding photography here. The sunset views at Rainbow Vista are absolutely amazing.
Some Hiking Etiquette
- Leave no trace
- Horses have priority, followed by hikers, and then bikers.
- Hikers climbing uphill have the right of way
- Do not distub wildlife and plants