Major Attractions Surrounding Las Vegas – Lake Mead National Recreation Area
While some people like to take their vacations to tropical islands and big cities, others like a more open and historic destination, and Nevada offers these types of vacation spots by the dozen. Obviously, Nevada brings in a lot of tourism due to Las Vegas, but many other landmarks in the area share the spotlight, including the Lake Mead National Recreation Area.
The Lake Mead National Recreation Area is a large landmark made up of two huge reservoirs and is located in southern Nevada and northwestern Arizona. The Nevada side is the Lake Mead side of the attraction, with the Arizona reservoir Lake Mohave making up the other half. Lake Mead is impossible to miss – it’s located at the Hoover Dam.
It’s really an all-in-one vacation to visit the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Not only can folks see the huge reservoir, but they also get to tour and experience the Hoover Dam. Because of the type of location and everything Lake Mead offers, nearly 8 million people make the trek there every year, making it one of the most visited sites in the United States of America, and certainly Nevada.
Lake Mead itself offers opportunity of all types for water enthusiasts, including boating, water skiing, fishing, swimming, sunbathing and more. The entire recreation area is almost one and a half million acres in size.
There’s also a lot to see and do for hikers. The red rock formations and natural landscape of southern Nevada presents a challenge for hikers and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for sightseers and photographers. However, this is still the desert, so it’s not a wise move to venture out far into the area unless you’re fully prepared with supplies.
Multiple things make the Lake Mead National Recreation Area unique, but the desert setting is probably the most intriguing aspect of this historic landmark. America doesn’t have a lot of desert land in comparison with the rest of the world. The southwestern United States is basically the only desert to be found, and three of the four American desert ecosystems are located in the area.
The area was originally called the Boulder Dam Recreation Area when it was first built. In 1947, the name was changed to the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, and Congress declared the entire area a national park system in 1964.
Although you might not think it, the ecosystem in this desert is actually extremely diverse. In total, there are over 900 species of plants, 500 species of animals, and 25 endangered animal species living within the area.
Humans have had a presence in the area for around 10,000 years, and ancient artifacts are on display and can be found all throughout the recreation area. Visitation has been on the decline in recent years, going from around 9.5 million annually in the 1990s to around 7 million annually in the 2000s.