Lake Mead and the Valley of Fire State Park
Thousands & thousands of visitors fly and drive into and out of Las Vegas each day, but I'd guess that few consider the possibilities for great road trips that exist right around Las Vegas -- as Mark and Megan tell us quite frequently.
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to spend a day in the Las Vegas area while waiting for a late afternoon wedding (a friend's) -- so I took the opportunity to explore the area around Lake Mead. I started off about 9:00 a.m. on 6/12/05, and headed out toward Boulder and the road to Hoover Dam. Just before the dam, I turned off to the north on SR166 and followed it and SR167 north along the lake shore and through the adjacent deserts, past springs, tributary streams (actually flowing through the desert in JUNE!) and several beaches and marinas. Along the way, I made stops at the Alan Bible Visitor Center (near the junction of US93 and SR166), at Callville Marina, then Echo Bay and Overton Beach.
The highway twists through the desert countryside, through differing geologic formations that contrast sharply with one another -- most of the time the blue waters of Lake Mead are visible to the east, never more than a few miles away and often right beside the road. I was thinking what a great motorcycle road -- and I wasn't alone, as I passed quite a few bikes along the way.
From Overton Beach, I detoured from my planned route (north to I-15 and Overton) and made a foray through the Valley of Fire State Park to the west. As the name suggests, this is a red-rock area -- very rugged and spectacular. There is a visitor center with exhibits and information on the history and geology of the area, including a gift shop (of course) and a film. The side road from the visitor center to Mouse's Tank and the Rainbow Vista takes only a few minutes and is well-worth the time. Admission to the park is $6 -- paid at a self-service kiosk at the first scenic overlook inside the park on the east side, or if entering from the WEST side, the rangers on duty at the entrance station will collect your payment.
From the west exit, I continued west toward I-15, and back to Las Vegas, about 40 miles away from that point. I easily completed this trip, with literally dozens of stops for photographs and sightseeing, in 6 hours. Total mileage was about 170, I believe -- so you can see I was in no hurry.
If you find yourself in Las Vegas, you might give this short road trip route a try for a change of pace. The landscapes around Lake Mead are under-appreciated, I think, in terms of scenic beauty. To make an entire day of this, you might combine the drive with a visit to Hoover Dam -- also a fascinating way to spend a couple of hours. Bob
Sounds like my kind of Desert drive! I will certainly take note if I am ever in the Vegas area!
Thanks for sharing! Oh, and I love your descriptions. You always make me almost feel like I'm there with you.
Last edited by PNW Judy; 06-14-2005 at 11:51 PM.
You have seen this road, many, many times!
Actually, just about anyone who has watched American TV in the last five years will recognize this road. It frequently appears in new car advertisements. One more tip -- the roundtrip trail at the end of the road -- goes into a SLOT canyon and is one of our all-time fun walks in the area.
Originally Posted by Moderator Bob
Plus, we have on many occasions found arrow-points and other artifacts laying on the ground just a few feet from the road in the park. Of course, we left them there...
The campsites are very nicely designed and if you can manage to take the time to stay overnight -- dawn in the park can be almost mystical. Also it is not unusual to see some of the teenager mountain sheep herds that hang out in the area.