[The Outdoor Issue]

Boatlife: How to have floating fun at Lake Mead

April is an ideal time to hit Lake Mead.
Photo: Christopher DeVargas

I never thought I’d find happiness in a snug, 850-square-foot boat docked on the Florida coast, but I often daydream about my vacation aboard that Prout Catamaran. I enjoyed boat life so much, I realized I’d never taken advantage of the lake in my own backyard.

With temperatures rising, April is an ideal time to hit Lake Mead, and you don’t even need your own boat. As long as you assemble a large group, you can rent a boat and have a daytime adventure that’s affordable for everyone. Sites to see include the Mike O’Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, Swallow Cove, Wishing Well Cove and other scenic spots to discover and make your own.

Bruce Nelson, operations director at Las Vegas Boat Harbor and Lake Mead Marina, emphasizes safety and planning ahead—making sure there’s a life jacket for every person on the vessel, a flotation device, a whistle and a fire extinguisher, and, of course, knowing where everything is. “Check the weather,” he adds. “Lake Mead can be treacherous if you’re not paying attention to the weather. You don’t want to be in the middle of the lake unprepared.” Most importantly, Nelson says, “Never drink and boat. You can get a DUI on the water just like you can [in a car].”

Despite recent reports, Lake Mead is a safe and fun place for everyone—but common sense is required. “Most fatalities on Lake Mead are alcohol-related. It becomes unsafe if you’re unsafe. If you have alcohol and no life jacket, it’s the recipe for disaster,” Nelson adds. “If you’re smart about what you’re doing, there’s many memories to be had.”

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Leslie Ventura is a staff writer at Las Vegas Weekly and Industry Weekly. She’s picked the brains of rock stars ...

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