Water Levels Frequently Asked Questions


Q1: What can you tell us about launch ramp extensions? Which ramps will be extended, when will they be ready, and how long will they last?
A1: Each ramp will require specific individual actions. Please visit https://www.nps.gov/lake/planyourvisit/conditions.htm for current information on launch ramp extensions and conditions.

Q2: Are launch ramp extensions costly? How are they being funded?
A2: Since 2010, the park has spent over $40 million dollars to maintain access for boaters. The Park has spent approximately $2 million per year on launch ramp repairs and extensions over the past 20 years. It costs $2-3 million for every four-foot decrease in lake elevation to maintain access to Lake Mead. NPS and Lake Mead are exploring various funding options for each launch area’s unique needs.

Q3: What is pipe mat and what should I know about launching on it?
A3: Pipe mat consists of rows of pipes welded together to form a surface suitable for boat launching. It provides a temporary solution to extend boat ramps deeper into the water. Pipe mat eliminates the risk of trailers getting stuck in the muddy bottom of the lake, but they can be slippery, and boaters must use caution to assure they do not extend their trailers beyond the edge of the pipe mat.

Q4: What are current lake level projections?
A4: Current predictions are that Lake Mead will fall below 1060 feet of elevation by spring 2022. Updated projections can always be found on the Bureau of Reclamation’s website at: www.usbr.gov/lc/region/g4000/24mo.pdf

Q5: What is the lowest elevation the lake has seen?
A5: Current elevations are the lowest since the reservour was filled in 1936. For historic elevations visit, https://www.usbr.gov/lc/region/g4000/hourly/mead-elv.html

Q6: What is the highest elevation the lake has experienced?
A6: In 1983, the lake reached 1,225 feet. In the late 1990s it was also above 1,200 feet.

Q7: When did the elevation start to decline?
A7: The water levels in Lake Mead have been steadily declining since 2000.

Q8: What is Lake Mead’s current capacity?
A8: Lake Mead continues to fluctuate monthly as downstream delivers are made by the Bureau of Reclamation. As of March 2022, the capacity was 34 percent.

Q9: How has the miles of shoreline and/or number of acres of open water changed since the drought started?
A9: On Dec. 31, 1999, when the lake’s elevation was 1,213 feet, the surface area of the lake was 153,496 acres with around 930 miles of shoreline.

Q10: Will the lake ever drop so low that it will close to boating?
A10: The BOR predicts that water levels will continue to decline, but currently we do not anticipate that the lake will ever decline to a level where boating would not be possible.

Q11: What areas have permanently closed in the past due to low water?

A11:  Yes: 

In 2001, Government Wash and Pearce Ferry launch ramps closed.
In 2002, the Las Vegas Bay Marina was relocated.
In 2003, The Las Vegas Bay Launch Ramp closed, and Lake Mead Cruises relocated.
In 2007, the Overton Beach Marina and Lake Mead Marina were relocated.
In 2008, the remaining docks at Lake Mead Marina were relocated.
In 2009, Overton Beach Launch Ramp closed.
In 2013, the Echo Bay Marina closed (other variables beyond low water played a factor)
In 2014, the original Callville Bay and Echo Bay launch ramps closed.


Last updated: March 14, 2022

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