Friday, May 25, 2012 | 2 a.m.
With more than 500 miles of shoreline to explore, Lake Mead and the surrounding national recreation area offer plenty of diversions, whether you’re looking to hike, kayak, boat or lay out on the beach.
Admission to the National Recreation Area is $10 per car and $16 per waterborne vessel at one of six park entrance stations. Many of the activities within the park are free, but boat and equipment rentals come with added costs.
Here are five things to see and do around the lake:
Railroad Tunnels Trail
Remnants left over from the days when locomotives shuttled materials out to the Hoover Dam construction site, the Railroad Tunnels Trail takes hikers through five mountain passes that were once traversed by trains. The 3.7-mile trail is part of the larger River Mountains Trail system and begins near Boulder Beach, ending up near the Hoover Dam Parking Garage. The trail is relatively flat, and each of the five tunnels is approximately 300 feet long by 25 feet high, providing plenty of room for large groups to take a leisurely walk through the mountains.
Goldstrike Hot Springs
A more challenging hike than the Railroad Tunnels, the Goldstrike Hot Springs trail rewards those who persevere with a series of hot springs and hot pools. Continuing down the trail will take hikers to the Nevada Hot Springs and the Colorado River. The trail starts outside the National Recreation Area, south of U.S. 93 on the way to Boulder City.
A six-mile hike along the northern side of Lake Mead will lead visitors to Anniversary Narrows, a slot canyon bounded by steep walls made from layered sediments that create a unique and beautiful setting, said Alan Gegax, who organizes hiking trips in the Lake Mead area. Along the way, hikers will see sparkling gypsum deposits and abandoned mining operations from the state’s past. The trailhead to Anniversary Narrows is located off mile marker 16 on Northshore Road, near Overton.
Las Vegas Boat Harbor and Boulder Beach
For those looking to get in the water quickly, Boulder Beach and Las Vegas Boat Harbor offer easy access from the Boulder City entrance to Lake Mead. Boulder Beach has two miles of sandy coastline plus nearby campgrounds. The Las Vegas Boat Harbor and Marina offers boat rentals, fuel, food, dry storage and slip rentals to boaters visiting the lake.
Floatels at Echo Bay Marina
The Echo Bay Marina, located on the north side of Lake Mead near Valley of Fire State Park, lets visitors take an outdoor vacation without camping. The marina lets guests rent “floatels,” houseboats intended for temporary stays on the lake. The boats offer all the comforts of home, including central air conditioning and a fully-equipped kitchen, out on Lake Mead. The boats rent for $190 per night for up to four people.