The Lake Mead National Recreation Area covers a vast amount of land that is more than triple the size of Lake Mead itself. There are plenty of interesting sights to see in this place, because the majestic landscape varies so greatly. It can literally take weeks to experience every point of interest in this vast wilderness area and there will still be many more nooks and crannies to explore. Aquatic sports are just part of the venue in this recreation area. Hiking, mountain biking or riding the Jeep trails is the ticket for experiencing the surrounding landscape of desert mountains, dry washes, hidden canyons, freshwater springs and colorful rock outcrops. The Lake Mead National Recreation Area truly is an astonishingly beautiful place experience while visiting Las Vegas, which happens to be located right next door!
This article features views from scenic overlooks along Northshore Road from the east Las Vegas entrance to the north gate up by the Valley Of Fire State Park. There are many points of interest in between that include several dirt roads that lead to hidden coves on the lake and paved side roads that goes to a marina with boat ramps. There are a couple of full facility campgrounds along Northshore Road, while primitive camping is allowed in designated areas.
A few natural desert springs can be found on the western side of the lake along Northshore Road. These springs are easy to spot, because they are isolated green lush areas with palm trees in this barren desert landscape. The freshwater springs harbor unique wildlife, so be sure to bring a camera when checking out these oasis on foot. Caution must be taken with both pets and humans when visiting these desert springs, because the water contains dangerous brain eating parasites. The spring water here is not safe to drink without purification and it pays to let fellow visitors know.
There are many hiking trails along Northshore Road that go to hidden canyons that cannot be seen from the roadside. Some trails are marked with small signs and some trails are not. Lake Mead Hiking Trail Maps are available at the Park Ranger Stations at the entrance gates and the same maps can be accessed at the National Park website. Hiking the trails in this region can be dangerous, because of the threat of heat stroke in the summer season. As always, pack plenty of water and some organic snacks when doing the hikes. The reason for organic snacks is because many inorganic food additives can cause adverse reactions in extreme heat conditions.
A completely new and different scenic view presents itself every mile or two along Northshore Road. There are several scenic overlook parking areas, so there really is no need to park on the shoulder of the road. This area of Lake Mead is a photographer’s paradise, so be sure to pack a good camera and a telephoto lens in case there are some Desert Bighorn Sheep present.
The first scenic area heading north on Northshore Road is the Gypsum Wash. There are several red sandstone hoodoos in this dry wash basin that are ominous to see. After driving by the lake cove access roads, the mountainous landscape starts to show signs of recent sharp upheavals of rock strata that are intriguing enough to inspire the geologist inside. As one heads further north, a continuation of red sandstone formations from Whitney Pockets on the other side of Lake Mead can be seen in the Redstone Picnic Area. In this area, the landscape starts to look so strange that it is easy to think that this must be somewhere on a planet in some distant galaxy. The picturesque mountainous terrain with red sandstone outcrops continues to where the Valley Of Fire begins. On the east side of the road by the north entrance gate, the slope gradually goes downhill to St Thomas Ghost Town, which used to be submerged back when the Lake Mead water level was much higher.
As can be imagined, a visitor could spend an entire week exploring all that there is see along Northshore Road and this section is not even one fourth the size of the entire park. For this reason, the Lake Mead National Recreation Area is the ultimate destination for outdoorsmen and boaters who wish to escape from Las Vegas!
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