Exploring the Backcountry

Rugged red hills and mountains among desert scrub
 

Approved Backcountry Roads

A network of backcountry roads has been developed within the park to provide access to the lakeshore and other areas of interest that are off the beaten path. Approved roads are signed with a yellow arrow. The black number in the center of the arrow designates the road number. Driving on roads or trails not marked with the yellow arrow is prohibited.

With hundreds of miles of backcountry roads, conditions can change without notice. Please travel on backcountry roads with caution. Driving off roads, in washes or cross country damages the fragile desert soil and is prohibited by National Park Service regulations.

Please help preserve the park by staying on approved roads, respecting the rights of other visitors and carrying out all trash and litter.

Backcountry Maps Page

 

Information

  • Vehicle camping is permitted in designated camp areas only. Those areas are identified in the Backcountry Management Plan, on the park’s approved road maps and on-site with the approved camping symbol sign.
  • Camping within Lake Mead National Recreation Area is limited to 90 days within a consecutive 12-month period.
  • Camping is limited to 15 days in all approved backcountry camping areas. Campers must move to another camp area at least one-half mile away for a minimum of 15 days before returning to the same camp area.
  • The areas known as North and South Telephone Cove, Cabinsite Point, and Princess Cove, Arizona, and Placer Cove, Nevada; are CLOSED to camping.
  • Within the area commonly referred to as Boulder Basin, and defined as all land areas north of U.S. 93 and west of a line drawn from Promontory Point north to Roadrunner Cove, vehicle camping is ONLY permitted in developed campgrounds.
  • Government Wash is a designated undeveloped camping area.
  • At Pearce Ferry, camping is only allowed within the designated Pearce Ferry Campground area. Camping at the Pearce Ferry Campground is limited to 15 days total within a 12-month period.
  • Backpackers accessing areas on foot may camp anywhere in the backcountry, unless the area is posted as a "No Camping" area. Campsites must be at least 1/2 mile off of designated roads and 100 feet from any spring, water-hole, seep or other water.
  • Backpack and horseback camping is not permitted within one-half mile of any designated roadway except at designated campsites.
  • All persons camping within one quarter (1/4) mile of the shore of Lake Mead and Lake Mohave to include hot and cold springs, except at undeveloped locations designated by the Superintendent as having constructed toilets, shall have a means to contain solid human waste. The use of disposable bags or containers, which package human waste and render it safe for disposal as a solid waste, and which meet applicable state and federal regulations, are permitted.
When seasonal fire restrictions are in place (usually May-September)
  • Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire or campfire with any wood or charcoal burning device, such as a fire pit or grill, is prohibited within the backcountry, except along shorelines. Fires along backcountry shorelines must be at least 100 feet from the nearest beach logs, structure or vegetation and must be within wood or charcoal burning devices, such as a fire pit or grill.
When seasonal fire restrictions are not in place (usually October-April)
  • Campfires are permitted throughout the backcountry.
  • Fire size must be less than three feet in diameter.
  • Fires must be at least ten feet from the nearest beach logs, structure or vegetation.
  • Chemically treated wood, painted wood, wood with nails or staples shall not be used.
  • Fires must be above ground (no pit fires) and attended at all times.
  • Fires must be completely extinguished with water, doused and stirred. Fires should not be covered with sand; as it will insulate the heat and create an unseen danger for wildlife and visitors.
  • Rock rings must be deconstructed and refuse must be removed from beach after visit.
  • Debris burning is not permitted.
  • When shoreline camping, all charcoal ashes must be packed out and disposed of in park trash receptacles after ensuring that they are completely extinguished.
The use of fireworks, including "safe and sane,” is prohibited at all times on all public lands including Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Title 36, Code of Federal Regulations, Section 2.38 (b) under the National Park Service.
  • The park has nine wilderness areas. Please visit the park's wilderness page for more details on exploring these protected spaces.
  • Hunting is allowed in the recreation area except in those areas posted as "No Hunting" zones. Target shooting is prohibited throughout Lake Mead National Recreation Area..
  • Geocaching is not a permitted activity at Lake Mead National Recreation Area.
  • Collection and removal of natural, historical or cultural objects is prohibited.
  • Please report any resource violations to our dispatch office at (702) 293-8998.

No one plans on getting hurt while out exploring in a national park. However, nature is unpredictable and your equipment can unexpectedly fail. Planning ahead can be the key to a fun and safe adventure. Remember, safety starts with you!

Use the NPS Trip Planning Guide and Checklist to help plan your trip. The guide provides key safety considerations to help you avoid some of the most common mistakes people make when visiting national parks. The guide is divided into the four phases of your trip. Additional articles are there to help you with selecting the Ten Essentials, preparing your Trip Plan and Emergency Planning. Don't miss out on these important tips to help prepare you for an emergency.

 

Trip Planning Guide

 
Hand holding map of Lake Mead.

Before the Trip

What do you need to know before you go?

Silhouette of a park ranger.

Arrival at the Park: Ask a Ranger!

"Ask a Ranger" about alerts, weather and other conditions in the park.

Man walking though the desert with flowers blooming.

During the Trip

Assess and adjust during your adventure.

Older man with beard standing in the desert thinking.

After the Trip

How did your trip go? What did you learn?

 

Safety Check List

Note: cell phone coverage may be minimal or non-existent.

  • Tell someone your plans including the exact destination and length of stay.
  • Always carry extra water for you and your car.
  • Drink water even if you don't feel thirsty.
  • Carry a map.
  • Bring a spare tire with a jack and lug wrench.
  • Camping in wash bottoms is hazardous because of the possibility of flash floods.
  • Always be aware of changing weather conditions and move to high ground when it is raining where you are, or near by.
  • Road conditions change. Be cautious and aware.
  • Know basic desert survival skills and practice them.
  • Never hike alone.
 

Have more questions?

For additional information, please contact the Lake Mead Visitor Center at (702) 293-8990 between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., seven days a week. The Visitor Center is located four miles east of Boulder City, at the intersection of U.S. Highway 93 and Lakeshore Road.

 

Last updated: September 4, 2020

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

601 Nevada Way
Boulder City, NV 89005

Phone:

(702) 293-8990

Contact Us