Visiting Lake Mead National Recreation Area

There are lots of great places and National Parks to explore in this area!

Visiting Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Lake Mead ©Donetta Dalman

Recently I wrote about visiting our National Parks and I shared a list of the 63 official parks in the system. It got me thinking more about all of the other types of areas that are set apart as National Park areas.

Since we started traveling full time in 2020, we have been visiting as many of these as we can along our journey and we’ve managed to check quite a few off the list. (65 of them to be exact!) I’d never really looked up how many there are and what other types there are so I thought I would explore that a little.

Here are the places I found that are part of the National Park System:

  • National Recreation Areas
  • National Historic Sites
  • National Military Parks
  • National Seashores
  • National Lakeshores
  • National Monuments
  • National Memorials
  • National Wildlife Refuges
  • National Preserves
  • National Conservation Areas
  • National Archeological Sites
  • National Scenic Trails
  • National Wild and Scenic Rivers
  • National Rivers
  • National Reserves
  • National Parkways
  • National Historical Parks
  • National Battlefield Sites
  • National Battlefield Parks
  • National Battlefields
  • National Forests

Whew!! That’s a LOT!

I knew about some of those as we’ve been to some and added them to our list of places we’ve visited. But some of those were new to me as I read through the list on the NPS site.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area is the latest one we visited from this list. There are 18 places designated on the Recreation Area list for the NPS and I learned that Lake Mead was the first one of this kind. I realized it’s also the first recreation area we’ve been to visit as well. haha! (I did discover that there’s one not too far from where we’re from in Oklahoma and we’ve driven through there but we’ve never stopped to visit and explore the area. We’re going to have to do that soon and add it to our list of places we’ve visited!)

As we traveled southeast across the country, we spent a couple of days at Lake Mead and we loved every minute of it. We did a few different hikes while we were there and got to see some extraordinary scenery. One of my favorites was the Owl Canyon hike. The path through this canyon is just incredible. All the twists and turns and the beautiful rock walls make it a hike that just leaves you in awe at every turn.

Another favorite hike that we did was the Historic Railroad Trail. This whole trail is on the path where there used to be a railroad track so it’s wide and flat making it a super easy hike — plus the views were just spectacular.

It’s well above the lake so you can look out and see so much of it from up high. The tunnels that were built for the train are really interesting to walk through as well. They even had little signs along the way with historical information about how the tracks were built and how people lived in the area.

This trail actually goes all the way to the Hoover Dam but it’s a little over 8 miles round trip and it wasn’t our first hike of the day so we went about halfway and just did about 4 miles. We’d been to Hoover Dam before so it wasn’t too big of a deal for us to get there. Side note — if you’ve never been there and taken the tour that they offer, it’s worth it! We did it years ago and it was fun and very informative. The dam itself is quite a sight to see too of course!

One thing you do need to be aware of, this area is closed in the summer. It is the desert after all and the heat is extreme. This is a great trail to do in other seasons before or after the heat of summer. Thankfully we were there in March and the weather was amazing.

Photo by author

I look forward to visiting more of the National Recreation Areas as we continue to travel. This is a list of the ones that are part of the National Park system.

Amistad National Recreation Area, Texas
Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, Montana and Wyoming
Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area, Massachusetts
Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, Georgia
Chickasaw National Recreation Area, Oklahoma
Curecanti National Recreation Area, Colorado
Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, New Jersey and Pennsylvania
Gateway National Recreation Area, New Jersey and New York
Gauley River National Recreation Area, West Virginia
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Arizona and Utah
Golden Gate National Recreation Area, California
Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, Washington
Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Arizona and Nevada
Lake Meredith National Recreation Area, Texas
Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area, Washington
Ross Lake National Recreation Area, Washington
Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, California
Whiskeytown-Shasta-Trinity National Recreation Area, California

Have you visited any of them? Which one is your favorite?

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