Las Vegas is the perfect destination for people who love the great outdoors. Apart from being a glimmering playground for party-goers, gamblers, and concert enthusiasts, it's also home to nature landscapes that leave travelers in awe. Among these attractions is the breathtaking Lake Mead, an artificial lake surrounded by naturally beautiful, rugged mountain ranges and diverse wildlife.
Where is Lake Mead?
Lake Mead, the biggest reservoir in the U.S., was formed upon the construction of the Hoover Dam in 1936. Stretching 112 miles long, it’s one of the largest manmade lakes in the world and the crown jewel of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area.
Millions of people visit Lake Mead every year to sightsee, play water sports, and learn more about its history and importance in the community. Fed by the Colorado River, it's a crucial water supply source for households and farmlands in Arizona, Nevada, California, and northern Mexico.
Today, Lake Mead is more than just a reservoir. It's a haven for adventurers, offering plenty of space for swimming, fishing, canoeing, and kayaking. It’s increasingly become a popular vacation spot for families, friends, and solo travelers looking for outdoor activities and a change of scenery.
Lake Mead National Recreation Area is only around 20 minutes from the Las Vegas Strip, making it a popular outdoor recreation hub for those who want peace and quiet after having a great time in the busy city.
Yes, You Can Kayak Lake Mead
Kayaking is the most popular way of exploring Lake Mead and the surrounding canyons. Some parts of the lake are connected to the Colorado River and Black Canyon, so you can have a calm yet thrilling paddling experience while appreciating towering cliffs and desert views around.
Before you take off on your Lake Mead kayaking tour, let’s talk about a few things to think about to make your trip as smooth and successful as possible.
Bring the Essentials
Safety should always be a priority, even when kayaking peaceful, shallow waters for just a few hours. Waterways can be unpredictable and may change from a calm surface to intense rapids in just a few seconds. Thus, preparation is key.
First, let’s talk about your attire. Dress for sun protection. This means SPF, sunglasses, and a hat. Also, you should dress based on the water temperature — not the temperature of the air. Avoid cotton, because it takes far longer to dry than other materials. Opt for secure shoes that aren’t likely to come off your feet. Additionally, wear a lifejacket to provide buoyancy if the kayak flips. (Plus, it’s required!)
You also want to familiarize yourself with boating regulations and safety requirements before leaving for your big adventure. This is for your safety and that of the people around you. This is why on all of our Las Vegas kayaking tours, Evolution Expeditions’ guides teach our kayakers all of the basics and necessities.
As much as possible, seek thorough paddling instructions and emergency response tips from a professional before launching. This can be challenging if you're a beginner kayaker who wants to go on a self-guided kayaking trip, as you're merely relying on yourself, with no one to turn to in case an accident happens. That’s why we strongly recommend going with a guide. (More on this in a minute!)
Know Where to Launch
There's no need to acquire a license and register kayaks and other non-motorized boats in Nevada. However, as a kayaker, it's still important to acquaint yourself with boating regulations and possible launching spots.
You can launch your kayak in various locations within the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, including Canoe/Kayak Beach near Boulder City. Some kayakers start from Willow Beach or the base of Hoover Dam. The park charges entrance fees per vehicle and individual, but there are no launch fees, except when launching from the dam's base. Check in advance what type of permits you might need. When you kayak with Evolution Expeditions, we take care of the permits for you.
Opt for a Guided Kayaking Tour
Going on a guided kayaking tour means saving yourself from the hassle of looking for reliable kayak rentals, securing permits, and arranging transportation. At Evolution Expeditions, we have two tour packages designed for people who want to explore Lake Mead — Deluxe and Express — complete with snacks, stops at historical sites, wildlife viewing, and shuttle services.
Emerald Cave (also called Emerald Cove), the heart of our Lake Mead tours, is known for its breathtaking emerald green waters and geologic formations that can only be explored via a small boat. Even a three- or four-hour excursion through Lake Mead and the Colorado River offers countless opportunities to take photographs and relax without going too far from the Strip and the downtown area.
Emerald Cave Deluxe
The Emerald Cave Deluxe Tour is a four-hour adventure that begins at the Willow Beach Marina. It offers a magnificent view covering 900-foot volcanic walls along the Black Canyon and allows for some relaxation time at the beach, complete with snacks and catered lunch. A short trek is needed to get a good view of the canyons and learn more about the area’s interesting history, but it’s worth the challenge.
Emerald Cave Express
A short and sweet kayaking excursion is enough to revel in the beauty of Lake Mead and the surrounding natural wonders. The Emerald Cave Express, an hour shorter than the Deluxe Tour, covers a four-mile trip through various sections of Lake Mead, the Colorado River, and the remarkable sites around the Hoover Dam. It’s a quick nature getaway with delicious snacks and several opportunities to take stunning photos.
Kayak Lake Mead With Us
We run tours at Lake Mead all year round, so you can travel in your preferred climate and temperature. Together with our experienced guides, you can safely glide through the serene waters and spend time in a fairy-tale-like environment. Following the kayaking tour, you can look around Hoover Dam's facilities, go cycling, camping, horseback riding, and enjoy the rest of the day on the beach while admiring the beauty of the Nevada and Arizona shoreline.