Your Safety is our Highest Priority
Visitors, employees and park partners deserve to be safe when visiting a national park. Our staff works hard to make your visit both safe and enjoyable. Knowing how to stay safe will help you and your loved ones to enjoy your visit to the fullest.
Lake Mead is modifying visitor services to help prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Some facilities and events may be closed or cancelled. Please check locally and on the park's social media sites for current information and continue to follow CDC guidelines. As circumstances continue to change and we modify our operations as necessary, we thank you for your patience and cooperation.
Fireworks and Campfires
No fireworks are allowed within Lake Mead National Recreation Area, not even sparklers. Wood and charcoal fires are allowed in grills and fire pits at developed picnic areas or campgrounds and at shorelines 100 feet from vegetation.
The consumption or direct possession of an alcoholic beverage by a person operating a vehicle or vessel is prohibited. Glass bottles and Styrofoam are prohibited in the park.
Weather, Forecasts and Lake Levels are found on Lake Mead’s Weather Page.
Bike paths have STOP signs at road intersections. Please stop and look both directions before proceeding. Always observe the rules of the road while riding your bike. Please wear your bike helmet and respect the rights of others while using the roads and pathways.
Lightning and Flash Floods
Desert thunderstorms carry the double threat of flash floods and lightning. They occur most often during the monsoons in summer. Be wary of nearby storms. Violent downpours can cause flash flooding in distant areas untouched by rain. Avoid hiking and camping in a wash or other low-lying area or drive across a flooded road. Stay out of open areas where lightning may strike. Check the weather before you visit the park.
Mines and Tunnels
Abandoned mines and tunnels, with their deep shafts and old, rotten supporting timbers, are usually considered unsafe and should not be entered. Signs are posted to warn visitors to keep out.
Life jackets save lives. Because lake conditions can change in an instant, rangers recommend always wearing a life jacket, even while swimming. If you are short a life jacket, we have a free loaner program.
Scuba divers must fly a diver's flag. We have a page devoted to Scuba information here.
There are no lifeguards or designated swim beaches. Swim at Your Own Risk. Here are some popular areas where visitors like to swim.
Harmful Algal Blooms
Certain blue-green algae produce toxins that may be harmful to people and pets. At least one-third of the lakes in the United States that are larger than 10 acres have these toxin producing algae, and this trend is increasing worldwide. Blue-green algae occur on both Lake Mead and Lake Mohave, typically in the late summer and early fall months. Do not touch or allow pets to contact algae that appear as distinct, bright green or yellow streaks or scum on the surface of the water or as green globs or streaks floating below the surface. To report algal blooms or illness, call 702-293-8998. To report a medical emergency, call 702-293-8932.
•Do not swim, dive or contact water in areas with algae.
•Do not drink untreated lake water.
•Keep pets and children out of areas with algae.
•Clean fish well, and discard guts.
•Rinse off with clean water after swimming.
•Get updates and read more about Lake Mead’s Algal blooms here.
Before going out on the water, check weather forecasts and look for storm warning flags at marinas. If a storm breaks while you are out, seek shelter in a protected cove immediately and wait until the storm passes. Lightning is also a hazard on open water.
- Water levels in lakes Mead and Mohave change throughout the year. Always approach the shore with caution and watch for shallows and submerged debris.
- Many persons who drown never intended to enter the water. Always wear a life jacket. All boaters must have required safety equipment on board their boat.
- Distances to islands, buoys, and across coves are easily underestimated. Don't overestimate your abilities. Air mattresses and other inflatables can blow away, leaving you stranded far from shore. Never rely on an inflatable device as a life jacket. Always wear a life jacket when swimming, fishing or playing in the lake.
Maintain a distance of at least 300 feet (90m) from diver down flags and buoys in open water and at least 100 feet (30m) in inlets or navigation channels.
Safety for Water-skiers, Wakeboarding, and Toobing
All personnel towed behind a watercraft must wear life a jacket and an observer must accompany the boat operator. Display a ski flag when a skier is in the water. State laws apply.
Due to safety concerns, off-limit areas on Lake Mead are the Narrows through Boulder Canyon and Black Canyon from Promontory Point to Hoover Dam and the Chalk Cliffs north of the Hoover Dam. Lake Mohave off-limit areas are the narrow passes around Katherine Landing. Other areas specifically prohibited are within 300 feet of SCUBA divers, and other high-use shoreline areas marked by buoys or other markers.
Drink Plenty of Water
Drink plenty of water, even when you are not thirsty, your body can lose large amounts of water without you realizing it. Be aware of balancing fluid and electrolyte levels. Carry at least 1 gallon (4 L) of drinking water per person, per day. Know the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Watch for Signs of Trouble
If you feel dizzy, nauseous, or a headache, get out of the sun immediately and drink water or sports drinks. Dampen clothing to lower body temperature. Be alert for symptoms in others.
Heatstroke is caused by prolonged exposure to high temperatures or by engaging in physical activity in hot weather. Symptoms include high body temperature, lack of sweating, flushed skin, rapid breathing and unconsciousness.
Hypothermia is an emergency in which your body loses heat faster than it can replace it. Hypothermia can occur even at temperatures above freezing. Symptoms include uncontrollable shivering, slow or slurred speech, memory lapses and incoherence and exhaustion. Immediate treatment includes giving victim warm, non-alcoholic drinks, seeking shelter from the weather and getting the victim into dry clothes.
Travel Prepared to Survive
Stay on paved roads in summer. If your car breaks down, stay with it until help comes. Carry extra drinking water in your car in case of emergency.
Hantavirus--a potentially fatal respiratory disease--is spread through contact with infected rodents or their urine and droppings. Although no cases have been reported in Lake Mead, the virus has been found in deer mice and cactus mice here. Use caution in rodent infested locations such as cabins and mine structures.
Do not enter mine tunnels or shafts. Mines may be unstable, have hidden shafts, pockets of bad air and poisonous gas.
Avoid hiking in the heat. Hikers and backpackers need to be self-reliant and well prepared. Always plan, carry detailed maps and let someone know your plans.
Learn to Hike Smart.
It can't be emphasized enough that hiking during the late spring to early fall months can be VERY DANGEROUS due to extreme heat. Please take extra precautions during this time such as delaying any hiking plans to cooler seasons.
Rattlesnakes, scorpions and the Gila monster are poisonous, but will leave you alone unless disturbed or cornered. A Mountain Lion was spotted near Katherine Landing in February 2020. Wear sturdy boots and watch where you step or place your hands. Never place your hands or feet where you cannot see first.
It is illegal to feed animals in the park. Providing wild animals food may have a negative impact. Wildlife need only the natural habitat elements - food, water, and shelter - provided by their environment.
A microscopic amoeba, Naegleria fowleri, which can live in hot springs, can cause a rare infection. From 2002 to 2011, the Centers for Disease Control recorded 33 cases, with a 98% death rate. The amoeba enters the body through the nose only, Do not dive or submerse your head in warm springs or associated streams.
Oleander is a toxic plant common to developed areas; neither you nor your pet should eat any plant part or drink water from ditches near the oleander.
Last updated: December 13, 2022