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Everything you need to know about Lake Mead

Lakes of Nevada

The U.S. is full of fascinating natural and manmade landmarks. From the Grand Canyon to the Statue of Liberty, the nation has a wealth of highlights to suit every taste. There is one attraction, however, that manages to combine the best of what both nature and mankind have to offer – the amazing Lake Mead.

Below, you will find a selection of Lake Mead facts that should tell you all you need to know before arranging to take a trip there during your next Las Vegas holidays.

It’s America’s largest reservoir

Like many things in America, the sheer size of Lake Mead may come as a shock to those of us who are visiting from the UK. The lake is 120 miles long, 162 metres deep and has a total surface area of 247 square miles which, as you can imagine, all means it looks spectacular when seen up close.

Lake Mead is also officially the nation’s largest reservoir in terms of the volume of water it can hold, boasting the ability to provide for around 20 million people, as well as many nearby farming communities.

It has its own cactus garden

Something you certainly won’t find replicated at any of the lakes you can visit in the UK is the Alan Bible Botanical Garden. Found in the grounds of the visitor centre of the same name on the shore of Lake Mead, the garden is named after the popular Senator who represented the state of Nevada from 1954 to 1974.

The botanical garden is mainly made up of cacti that are native to the area, but a range of other locally-grown desert trees and shrubs are also displayed there. If you’re interested in finding out more about the vegetation that still manages to thrive in this mostly arid region, this is the place to go.

It hosted the first Bassmaster Classic

Fishing is one of the most popular activities that people flock to Lake Mead to enjoy, and with good reason – the lake has a rich history of providing both amateur and professional anglers with some fantastic catches.

Lake Mead’s credentials as a haven for bass fishing were confirmed when it was chosen as the host of the inaugural Bassmaster Classic competition (the winner of which is widely accepted to be the world’s best bass fisherman or woman) back in 1971. Unlike nowadays, the location of the tournament was kept a secret from the 24 anglers who entered – the participants weren’t told where they were going until their plane was in the air!

It was formed by the Hoover Dam

Perhaps the most fascinating of Lake Mead facts relates to its formation. As anyone who is familiar with the area will know, the lake was artificially created in the 1930s thanks to the building of the iconic Hoover Dam.

The lake was created when the Colorado River was dammed by the Hoover project, quickly submerging hundreds of miles of previously dry land in water. Sadly, this effort was not without some human cost, requiring the evacuation of several nearby communities, some of the remains of which can still be seen today when the water level drops far enough.

There’s plenty to do - in and out of the water!

Despite being created with a very practical purpose in mind, the decades that followed saw Lake Mead become a major recreational destination for both locals and visiting tourists.

We simply wouldn’t have space on our Lake Mead facts list to mention all the many activities that can be enjoyed there but, to give you just a taste of what’s available, here are a few of our top choices:

  • Boating
  • Fishing
  • Water skiing
  • Hiking
  • Mountain biking
  • Horseback riding

As you can see, there is much more to Lake Mead than the water itself, and the wide variety of things to do in the surrounding area means your time there can be as relaxing or adrenaline-pumping as you like!

The wreck of a Boeing B-29 lies on the lakebed

The Boeing B-29 Superfortress is one of the most infamous planes in history, having been responsible for dropping the atomic bombs of 1945 on Hiroshima and Nagasaki that effectively ended the Second World War. What you may not have known is that Lake Mead has its own connection with the U.S. Air Force’s most destructive bomber.

In 1948, a modified B-29 was carrying out atmospheric research over the lake when it lost altitude in difficult flight conditions and crashed into the water. Amazingly, all five members of the crew survived and were rescued after six hours, just in time to watch the plane sink from the shore. Due to the classified nature of the flight, details of the crash only emerged in the late 1990s, and the exact location of the wreck was not identified until 2001.

It’s home to nearly 1,500 species of flora and fauna

Despite its desert-like surroundings, you may be surprised to learn that there is plenty of fascinating wildlife waiting to be discovered on your next Lake Mead holiday. The numbers are impressive – the National Recreation Area is home to 900 different types of plant and 500 animal species, including 24 that are rare or threatened.

Some of the many floral and faunal highlights include cacti, the desert bighorn (Nevada’s state animal), and the endangered desert tortoise.

Eight million people go there every year

As far as our Lake Mead facts go, this may be among the more surprising. The National Recreation Area (the first to be created in the U.S.) welcomed an incredible 7.9 million visitors in 2017, possibly making it one of the most popular attractions you’d never previously heard of!

As well as being a favourite spot among holidaymakers, it must also be remembered that Lake Mead’s startling numbers are also partly down to the fact that it is just a stone’s throw from the bright lights of Las Vegas, meaning it’s usually the spot of choice for residents seeking a break from the city.

It spans two states

Like several other U.S. attractions, Lake Mead spans two states, Nevada and Arizona. Impressively, though, its influence can be felt even further afield, with the reservoir supplying water not just to the residents of both these states but also to the people of California.

Anyone thinking about booking San Francisco holidays and combining their trip with a visit to Lake Mead, however, should first consider just how big California is! It would take roughly a full day of travel to make it all the way to the lake from San Francisco city, so be prepared to make a few stop-offs and perhaps plan an overnight break along the way.

Spring is the best time to visit (for most!)

Many of our Lake Mead facts have focused on the area’s history, but what about some information that will be of practical use when planning your visit? You may be interested to know that spring is generally considered the most rewarding time to visit the lake. There are a couple of reasons for this – firstly, the temperature will be more bearable than in the sweltering summer months and, secondly, spring is also the only time of year when you will get to see Lake Mead’s many desert flowers suddenly bloom into life.




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