Kayak camping on Lake Mead

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of November 28-December 4, 1996
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Kayak camping on Lake Mead
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Kayak camping on Lake Mead
Question: I'm thinking of a quick winter kayak trip to Lake Mead, but am worried about locating good campsites after a day of paddling. Is there a guidebook similar to Kelsey's Boater's Guide to Lake Powell for Lake Mead?

David Hubert
Salt Lake City, UT
[email protected]

Adventure Adviser: According to my sources, there's not a specific guidebook to boating/kayaking Lake Mead, but don't despair. The park visitor center does sell maps and charts that give you the low-down on which coves are kayak- and tent-friendly and which aren't. Cove maps sell for $1 apiece and give a short description of just about every small inlet and cove on the lake's 550-mile-long shoreline. Nautical charts range upward in price to about $14 each and provide cove information as well as such lake hazards as rocks and shoals, something that probably won't be of too much concern to you. Camping is allowed anywhere along the shore, as long as you're 100 feet from the lake and 500 feet from any paved roads. There are also eight fully loaded national park campgrounds, with water and RV-catering hook-ups.

If you're looking to get away from the motorized crowd, however, I'd suggest sticking to the backcountry; with the exception of the steep walls in Black and Boulder canyons, most of the lakefront is rocky but flat, so finding a suitable place to pitch your tent shouldn't be too much of a chore. Just a word about winter weather: Daytime highs in January usually hit the 57-degree mark, with nighttime lows just below the freezing mark. And be sure to bring plenty of warm layers and windproof gear, as Mead is infamous for its stiff breezes that usually kick up in mid-afternoon. For more details and to order maps in advance, call the Alan Bible Visitor Center at 702-293-8906.

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