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From Hot Springs to Historic Tunnels: Hiking Adventures at Lake Mead National Recreation Area

14 April 2023

Lake Mead National Recreation Area, located in the southern part of Nevada and the northwestern part of Arizona, is one of the largest national recreation areas in the United States. It is situated on the shores of Lake Mead, which is the largest man-made reservoir in the United States. With over 1.5 million acres of land and water, the area is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise, with plenty of opportunities for hiking, biking, boating, and fishing. We will explore some of the best hiking trails at Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

  1. Gold Strike Hot Springs Trail [MAP]

The Gold Strike Hot Springs Trail is a challenging 4.5-mile hike that takes you through a steep canyon and leads you to a series of hot springs. The trailhead is located near the Hoover Dam, and the hike itself is a mix of scrambling over rocks, traversing narrow ledges, and wading through water. Along the way, you will encounter several waterfalls, including the 20-foot Nevada Hot Springs, which is a great place to stop for a dip.

The Gold Strike Hot Springs Trail is not for the faint of heart, and it is recommended only for experienced hikers who are comfortable with scrambling and climbing. However, if you are up for the challenge, the stunning scenery and hot springs make it well worth the effort.

  1. Arizona (Ringbolt) Hot Springs via White Rock Canyon [MAP]

The Arizona Hot Springs Trail, also known as the Ringbolt Hot Springs Trail, is a 6-mile hike that takes you through the stunning White Rock Canyon. The trailhead is located near the Colorado River, and the hike is a mix of scrambling over rocks, wading through water, and hiking along the canyon floor.

The highlight of the hike is the Arizona Hot Springs, which are located in a narrow side canyon. The hot springs are a series of three pools, ranging in temperature from 85°F to 120°F. The pools are surrounded by beautiful rock formations, and the warm water is a welcome treat after a long hike.

The Arizona Hot Springs Trail is a moderately challenging hike, and it is suitable for most hikers with a moderate level of fitness. However, the trail can be slippery and rocky in places, so it is important to wear appropriate footwear and exercise caution.

  1. Railroad Tunnel Trail [MAP]

The Railroad Tunnel Trail is a relatively easy 3.7-mile hike that takes you through several historic tunnels that were once used by trains carrying materials for the construction of the Hoover Dam. The trailhead is located near the Lake Mead Visitor Center, and the hike is a mix of walking along the old railroad bed and scrambling over rocks.

Along the way, you will pass through five tunnels, each of which is lined with fascinating historical information about the construction of the Hoover Dam. The tunnels are also home to a variety of desert wildlife, including lizards and snakes, so keep your eyes peeled.

The Railroad Tunnel Trail is suitable for hikers of all levels, and it is a great way to learn about the history of the area while enjoying a leisurely hike.

  1. White Owl Canyon via 33 Hole [MAP]

The White Owl Canyon Trail is a 2-mile hike that takes you through a narrow slot canyon in the heart of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. The trailhead is located near the 33 Hole, a popular swimming and fishing spot, and the hike is a mix of hiking through the wash and scrambling over rocks.

The highlight of the hike is the narrow slot canyon, which is only a few feet wide in places and towers over 100 feet high. The canyon is filled with stunning rock formations, including a series of cascading waterfalls that are a sight to behold.

The White Owl Canyon Trail is a moderately challenging hike, and it is suitable for hikers with a moderate level of fitness. However, the trail can be rocky and uneven in places, so it is important to wear appropriate footwear and exercise caution.

Photo by Michael Yantis on Unsplash

Tips for Hiking at Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Whether you are a seasoned hiker or a beginner, there are a few things you should keep in mind when hiking at Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

  1. Bring plenty of water – the desert can be incredibly hot, so it is important to stay hydrated. Bring at least one gallon of water per person, and be sure to drink plenty of fluids throughout your hike.
  2. Wear appropriate footwear – the trails at Lake Mead can be rocky and uneven, so it is important to wear sturdy hiking shoes or boots with good traction.
  3. Check the weather forecast – the weather in the desert can be unpredictable, so be sure to check the forecast before heading out on your hike. If there is a chance of rain, be aware of the possibility of flash floods in narrow canyons.
  4. Leave no trace – when hiking at Lake Mead, it is important to leave no trace behind. Pack out all trash and be sure to stay on designated trails to minimize your impact on the environment.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area offers a variety of hiking trails for outdoor enthusiasts of all levels. From challenging hikes through narrow canyons to leisurely strolls along historic railroad beds, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Just remember to bring plenty of water, wear appropriate footwear, and leave no trace behind to ensure a safe and enjoyable hike.

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