The Lake Mead National Recreation Area is one of the largest National Parks and it can take several weeks to discover all of the well known backcountry destinations. Even more time can be spent exploring the scenic places that can only be accessed by watercraft. Two rivers feed Lake Mead and Hoover Dam has created two lengthy branching deepwater arms. East of the Virgin River confluence is where the Colorado River exits the Grand Canyon landscape and there are several points of interest to be found on the Arizona side of the line. Bonelli Bay is one such spot and the dramatic scenery in this end of the big pond certainly is guaranteed to inspire pleasant memories that last a lifetime.
When traveling on Highway 93 east of Hoover Dam, the Temple Bar exit is the one to look for. The roadside signage is sparse and this exit is easy to miss, so it pays to keep the eyes peeled since doing a legal u-turn will require traveling many extra miles. Temple Bar Road is paved all the way to the Temple Bar Marina, which is a popular place to be during the winter season. Bonelli Landing Road is located at a bend a few miles short of Temple Bar and this road is also easy to drive past without being noticed. Bonelli Landing Road is a fairly smooth dirt road that goes overland through some amazing desert mountain terrain, so be sure to pack a camera for the ride. Just before arriving at Bonelli Landing, there is a marked dirt road that goes to Bonelli Bay and this pathway definitely is a bit rougher. A high ground clearance vehicle with a 4x4 option is best for the final leg of Bonelli Bay Road, which can be challenging, especially after a recent rain storm flash flood.
Both Bonelli Landing and Bonelli Bay offer dispersed camping opportunities, but because of the nature of the terrain, the bay will offer a better chance to achieve solitude. There are high ground perches surrounding Bonelli Bay that offer unique panoramic views of Lake Mead which extend to the horizon. Because of Colorado River water depletion due to climate change, Bonelli Bay has shrunk quite a bit and a GPS system may show that you are under water, even though the automobile is high and dry. Maps do not always keep up with the times, so a visitor can expect to find more activity and camping options than expected.
As can be imagined, Bonelli Bay is not a good place to be if heavy rains are forecasted because of flash flood danger. On a clear day this destination is like a dream come true, especially during the comfortable cool weather seasons. Boulder City, Nevada is the best option for stocking up on supplies, while fuel can be found at the Temple Bar Marina or at the last Arizona stop on Highway 93. Bonelli Bay is definitely a great destination for those who wish to escape into the wide open spaces and the life giving lake water adds to the charm!
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