Lake Mead is located about 30 miles east of Las Vegas, so this National Recreation Area is a perfect choice for doing a day trip. The access point for the Crawfish Cove dirt road is about ten minutes north of Lake Las Vegas on Northshore Road. This dirt road is a fairly well maintained gravel road, but care must be taken if rain clouds can be seen, because this Jeep trail actually is a dry wash basin that is prone to flash floods.
There are three popular coves in the Gypsum Wash area of Lake Mead and Crawfish Cove is the easiest to access. Crawfish Cove is also called crawdad Cove in some mapping systems, but the the NPS map provided at the gate displays the official name. Boxcar Cove is right next door to this spot, yet a visitor will have to take a much longer dirt road to get there. Crawfish Cove used to be a mountain dry wash ravine that drained into the Virgin River before Hoover Dam was built. The eroded sandstone rock outcrops and the small canyons in this area create quite a picturesque landscape to see.
Crawfish Cove is where the desert meets the water, so plenty of wildlife can be seen in this area. Jack Rabbits tend to hide in the shade of the sagebrush in the grassy pocket canyons, so be sure to keep the camera ready! Hiking, fishing and swimming is what most folks do at Crawfish Cove, while others prefer to just soak up the warm sun while peacefully meditating in this quiet place. Primitive camping is permitted, but fire restrictions apply during draught conditions.
Desert skinks, rock squirrels and jack rabbits will walk right up to check out anybody that tries to catch an afternoon siesta in the shade. I actually have been awakened by a rock squirrel that nibbled on my toes, while napping in the shade at Crawfish Cove! The skinks are naturally curious too and they seem to always crawl over a leg when one least expects it, which can cause a person to jump out of their skin and end up laughing after seeing the harmless little lizard looking up in wonder!
The water temperature of Lake Mead is cool and refreshing during summer months. The lake bottom is silty and it is easy to get the feet stuck in the mud, so using the buddy system while wading in the shallow water of this cove is advisable.
During a recent visit to Crawfish Cove, a tremendous dust storm swept through the desert and the winds gusted over 60 mph. The visibility was so bad, that the DOT closed Highway 95 from Boulder City to Laughlin, Nevada. I do not suggest venturing into the great outdoors during a dust storm, but it can make for an interesting day. For this reason, it is best to bring a dust mask and goggles when going on a windy Lake Mead shoreline venture, because plenty of dust gets kicked up around this big lake.
The waves can also start crashing when a storm brings high winds to Lake Mead. During my recent visit, Lake Mead was calm upon arrival, then the winds churned up some sizable waves that crashed over the breaker points along the cove shoreline. The view at that moment was like being at a distant ocean shoreline, which was amazing to see out in the middle of the barren desert! The wind and waves made it easier to do some bird watching, because the waterfowl headed for the cover of the aquatic vegetation in the cove, which was close to the shore. This created a good opportunity to photograph the coot and ducks that were splashing around.
No matter whether you want to do some striped bass fishing or just laze the day away while tanning, Crawfish Cove is a great little spot to escape from the rat race in Las Vegas! This little cove on Lake Mead is perfect for picnics and children can safely play in the shallow water, but an adult must be present in case a child gets stuck in the silt mud. Crawfish Cove is an interesting place to take in views of Lake Mead and this is a good place to spot wildlife as well!
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