Forever Resorts offers adventure on Lake Mead By Laura K. Hattaway / March 08, 2005 Share 1 -- Book now for summerNow is the time to book houseboats for the summer. Forever Resorts works with travel professionals, offering a 10% commission on houseboat rentals. Summer rates for the Forever 8 range from $2,095 for a three-day weekend to $3,495 for a week. The Forever Millennium Deluxes summer rates range from $4,395 for a three-day weekend to $6,995 for a week.Forever Resorts Callville Bay Resort & Marina is a 45-minute drive from the Las Vegas Strip. For more information, visit Foreverhouseboats.com or call (800) 255-5561.For many Las Vegas visitors, their only glimpse of Lake Mead is out of a tiny window as their airplane makes its final descent into the valley. Forever Resorts affords guests views of the lake from an entirely different perspective: the living room windows of a houseboat.Floating cabins on the lake is how Darla Cook, vice president of public relations for Forever Resorts, described the houseboats available for rent at Lake Meads Callville Bay. The 50-foot Forever 8, the smallest houseboat, offers a fully equipped kitchen, from appliances to marshmallow forks (in case a beachfront campfire breaks out); CD and VHS player; a gas barbecue grill; linens; and the propane, water and fuel necessary for a luxurious, floating cabin adventure.The 70-foot Forever Millennium Deluxe houseboat, the highest category houseboat in the fleet (there are seven altogether), sleeps 12 and has a hot tub, a water slide, built-in ice chests, a wet bar, a global positioning system, satellite receivers for the two televisions and a purified drinking-water system.Guests often bring their own power boats, water skis, hiking equipment and food while using the houseboat as a base camp for the many activities the Lake Mead National Recreation Area (NRA) has to offer, Cook said.But if your idea of getting back to nature is soaking it in from a distance rather than exploring it in all of its gritty splendor, thats OK, too.The Lake Mead NRA is one of the most visited parks in the U.S. It is also the nations largest man-made reservoir, with 550 miles of shoreline to explore. Though most visitors tend to congregate around the marinas closest to Las Vegas, houseboat guests are able to explore more distant and secluded coves. As the sun begins to set, they can beach the house and enjoy the kind of stars theyll never see on the Las Vegas Strip.Learning the craftForever Resorts makes maneuvering a home on the water as simple as possible for first-time houseboaters.Upon booking a reservation, renters (who must be at least 21 years old and have a valid drivers license) are sent a DVD that includes safe-boating rules and familiarization with parts of the boat.During load-out, comparable to a hotels check-in, a captain spends about an hour explaining how to shift the boats gears, back out and beach the vessel, answering any questions guests might have.The Forever Resorts crew pilots the boat out of and back into the bay.All houseboats are equipped with VHF marine-band radio in case anyone gets lost or has a mechanical problem.However, for those new to the lake, Forever Resorts is happy to recommend nice coves to look for.There are the equivalent of mile markers on the shore, so navigating this behemoth of a lake isnt as difficult as one might assume.According to the National Park Service, Lake Mead is at its lowest level in 40 years. A positive result, Cook said, is that there are more sandy beaches to explore.Casino cool-downAfter a high-energy Las Vegas vacation, a long weekend, or even a whole week, on Lake Mead is a decompression chamber, Cook said. Families come here to reconnect with the kids, said Cook.There are those magical moments you might not find anywhere else, because, in the houseboat, you can scout out and spend special time in what feels like your own cove, she added.Houseboating on Lake Mead can be enjoyed year-round.During the value season, when the water temperature drops, there are still hikes to undertake during the mild southern Nevada winter.The panoramic mountains and stunning sunsets are still present, and chances are you wont run into another person, unless you want to.The shoulder seasons of spring and fall offer increased opportunities for recreation, as the water temperature is higher and the prices are still less than during the summer.The summer season offers an abundance of activities from swimming and skiing to park-organized and ranger-led hikes originating from the Alan Bible Visitors Center.In addition to water sports and hiking, Lake Mead is a good place to view desert wildlife.Bighorn sheep can be spotted scouring impossibly tiny ledges, their off-white coats a contrast to the stark reddish brown mountains.Wild burros graze in groups, sometimes venturing onto hiking trails.Bobcats, chipmunks, mule deer, porcupines and jackrabbits are also among the animals one might see in the less-populated areas.To contact the reporter who wrote this article, send e-mail to email@example.com.Houseboat Andy and crew: Still crazy after all these yearsSeventeen years ago, Andy Vonderloh of California saw an advertisement for houseboats to rent in an ad in the back of a magazine. It seemed like the perfect vacation for a group of college kids.More than a dozen visits later, Vonderloh still speaks with enthusiasm about this great, incredible experience.He and his friends have celebrated weddings, birthday parties and, recently, a 25th wedding anniversary on the waters of Lake Mead.Vonderloh and his friends -- several families and singles, too -- typically take a ski boat and at least one Jet Ski along. They rent one of the larger houseboats, and after theyve all chipped in for the rental, food and fuel, it is quite inexpensive, he said.Youre not going out to dinner every night, he said. You cant spend money once youre on the boat. Vonderlohs only word of caution is to make sure all of the people onboard have compatible personalities.Youre on the boat for a week. Theres nowhere to go, he said. -- L.K.H.