Getaway Guru: One-Tank Trip to Lake Mead

August 18, 2012 6:00 AM

Las Vegas is a bustling city with a lot of entertainment, but sometimes visitors and locals long for a quiet getaway not too far from home. Lake Mead’s nearby natural recreation area and scenic drive offer plenty of draw, especially because the whole trip takes less than a tank of gas. Explore a road trip loop that will take you by beautiful views, restaurants, shopping and outdoor recreation that heavily contrasts the electronic flash and facades that lure locals and visitors to Las Vegas.

Getting There:

To get to the scenic driving areas of Lake Mead from Las Vegas proper, take 15 south to the 215 east, then merge onto the 515 south, which turns into the 93 south, and take a left turn at Lakeshore Road. This turn begins your trip through scenic glory, including beautiful waterways and in-season wildflower viewing, as well as unusual lakeside people watching experiences. Be aware that scenic Lakeshore Road is a National Recreation Area, so there is a weekly entrance fee of $10 per vehicle, or a yearly pass for $30, to enjoy the scenic drive bordering Lake Mead. Overall, driving to the entrance of this recreation area from the middle of the Las Vegas strip should take just more than 30 minutes. Once you are paid up and on park roads, the long version of the scenic drive around the perimeter of the lake lasts about 40 minutes each way. This drive is commonly known as the Lakeshore Scenic Drive, and a plethora of picnic facilities, nature trails and scenic bluffs and viewpoints offer short stops along the way. The best wildflower viewing on the Lakeshore Scenic Drive is from mid-March to late May, but this is a gorgeous trip round.

 Getaway Guru: One Tank Trip to Lake Mead

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Las Vegas Boat Harbor at Lake Mead Marina
490 Horsepower Cove Road
Boulder City, NV 89005
(702) 293-1191‎

To get to the Lake Mead Marina, take a right turn at Hemenway Cove about three miles up Lakeshore Road from the park entrance and proceed roughly two miles until you reach the marina at the edge of the lake. This location features boat and watercraft rentals, gift shops, restaurants, general stores and boat tours. If you plan ahead for an overnight trip, you may also reserve houseboats on the shore. Old school visitors to the Lake Mead Marina will find that it has relocated from its original location to its new spot at the Las Vegas Boat Harbor to remain just on the edge of the lake, which has receded its shores over time.

The Boat House Restaurant, Bar and Grill
490 Horsepower Cove Road
Boulder City, NV 89005
(702) 293-3484‎

When you are ready to take a break and fill up on some food, do it right on the water. The Boat House Bar and Grill, which is part of the Lake Mead Marina, offers a large selection of standard bar and grill favorites including steak, salad, appetizers and weekly specials. This venue also features a large television for catching local and national sporting events on the fly.

 Getaway Guru: One Tank Trip to Lake Mead

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Callville Bay Resort and Marina
100 Callville Road
Las Vegas, NV 89120
(702) 565-4813

Deep inside the National Recreation Area of Lake Mead, authentic lakeside entertainment, shopping and dining experiences in the Callville area at the Callville Bay Resort and Marina include boat rentals, gift shop options and delicious eats on the lake. To get to the Callville Bay Resort and Marina while on the Lakeshore Scenic Drive, take a right turn on Northshore Road from Lakeshore Road. Note that Lakeshore Road turns briefly into Lake Mead Drive just before you make the turn. Once you are on Northshore Road, travel about 11 miles north and east before taking another right turn on Callville Bay Road, which extends for about three miles before you reach the marina and recreation area.

Related: Getaway Guide: Weekend Road Trip to Grand Canyon, AZ


The Lake Mead recreational area is fairly remote, so shopping is limited to the usual lakeside fare, including general stores, camping and fishing supply, and small gift shops. For the hardcore gift shopper on a Lake Mead day trip, stop off in beautiful Boulder City, which offers a variety of full-service dining and shopping options for the picky gift shopper, including a number of dazzling specialty shops in the downtown area.

 Getaway Guru: One Tank Trip to Lake Mead

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The Flying Saucer
441 Nevada Highway
Boulder City, NV 89005
(702) 293-1823‎

If you know an extraterrestrial enthusiast, or are one, The Flying Saucer gift shop will provide an unforgettable sightseeing experience that offers alien and outer-space-themed gifts you will not likely find on your typical trip to Nevada. At this shop, you may grab snacks, buy space and UFO memorabilia and toys, and visit the shop’s alien, Paul.

Fiddlesticks Quilts
1229 Arizona St.
Boulder City, NV 89005
(702) 293-2979‎

For the quilter or quilt enthusiast in your life, Fiddlesticks Quilts is a must-see stop. This friendly local quilting shop offers quilt supplies and classes for all ages, as well as one-of-a-kind quilts made by quilt crafters hailing from near Boulder City and the Las Vegas Valley.

Related: Best Places to Buy Homemade Gifts in Las Vegas

Heather Bliss is a writer living in Las Vegas. Before she wrote about the Las Vegas area, she wrote articles about news, politics, movies and music in California. Heather holds a Bachelor of Arts in the Visual and Performing Arts from CSU San Marcos and studied Journalism at Moorpark College, where she received her A.A. degree. Her work can be found at