With much reluctance we left our perfect spot in the Mojave National Preserve and headed northeast towards Lake Mead. Boondocking on the shores of Lake Mead is not a new thing for us. In fact, this is our third time staying in the popular area called Government Wash. In the past I’ve always really liked it here. The combination of natural beauty, convenient access to town, and lots of nearby hiking trials make this an appealing spot.
For some reason it was different this time though. I couldn’t shake the feeling of disappointment when we first arrived. For one, the lake is really, really, really low. We estimate probably a good 20-30 feet lower than when we last visited in 2013. I read somewhere that the water level is currently hovering around levels last seen in the 1930s when the dam was first built and reservoir was still filling. Currently it sits around 150 feet lower than normal. Yikes! Seeing it like this really demonstrates what a decade of drought will do to an area.
Aside from the low water, I was bummed that all the best spots were taken. I really wanted a water view, but the low water makes getting near the shore impossible. Eventually we settled on a level-ish spot high on the bluff overlooking the water.
As the week went on my mood improved and I was reminded why we like it here. We also talked about how every other time we’ve parked here it’s been with a group of friends. Funny how good company can put a shine on a place that otherwise might be a little dull :)
I’ve noticed that I often get this feeling of mild disappointment when we leave a place as spectacular as our last one. Logically I know that not every place we go will be incredible and amazing, but it can sometimes be hard to shake that feeling. I know, I know, complain, complain, complain. But since I’ve been raving about the last few places we’ve stayed I thought I should share the other side too.
I will say that despite the low water, this area is much improved from our last visit. In the past it’s always been a kind of free for all with people staying as long as they want and leaving trash every where but in the provided dumpsters. We heard that they are now enforcing the two week limit (although during our week long stay we never saw a ranger) which has really thinned out the herd, so to speak. This was defiantly the least crowded we’d ever seen it. And while there is still a disappointing amount of trash strewn about (despite the 5 dumpsters that are free and open to use), it was less than last time, so that’s something.
Our week long stay was pretty tame in terms of adventuring. We spent one entire day driving around town doing errands, another day I went into town for laundry and grocery shopping, and then the next day back into town to do the errands I forgot the first time around. Proof that it’s not all hiking and sunsets.
In the past we’ve enjoyed the numerous hiking trails that zig zag around the hills and mountains surrounding the lake, but we’ve already done all the ones that are close enough to both drive to and hike before the sun sets after working hours are over, so this time we settled on daily afternoon walks around the neighborhood instead.
We did take advantage of our proximity to a big city for a night out on the town Vegas style — probably not how you’re thinking though. The first time we came here we did the whole Vegas Strip thing. We spent two nights parked behind the Paris Hotel & Casino, enjoyed an incredible Thanksgiving day buffet at the Cosmopolitan, walked for miles taking in all the sites and colorful characters, and had a blast. But now that we’ve done it we have no desire to do it again. So instead of casinos and free drinks our night out on the town consisted of some really awesome pizza at Grimaldi’s followed by a few hours at the Pinball Hall of Fame.
This was our second time visiting the PHOF. Not because we’re super fans of pinball machines or video games, but because it makes for a fun low-key night out away from crowded bars and smoky casinos. As Tim so eloquently wrote on his Instagram post, “Pinball Hall of Fame is still my favorite way to spend ten bucks in quarters in Las Vegas. Screw the strip. This strip mall is where it is at.”
Finally, on Saturday we drove over to the Lake Mead Marina for a day of kayaking. It was out first time kayaking since early December when we stayed at the lovely Martin Dies Jr. State Park in eastern Texas, and it felt wonderful to get back out on the water.
Our destination was the Hoover Dam, or as close to the Hoover Dam as we could get. The path we followed went straight out from the marina for a few miles before curving into a narrow canyon that ended at the dam. The no trespassing buoys were surprisingly closer to the dam than we thought they would be. This is the third time we have visited the Hoover Dam. The first was by car, the second by bike, and now by boat. I can confirm that boat beats out car or bike by a long shot.
Up next: We head up the lake in search of better lake side camping and more kayaking. Stay tuned!