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.
affords guests views of the lake from an entirely different
perspective: the living room windows of a houseboat.
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.
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
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.
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
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,
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
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
makes maneuvering a home on the water as simple as possible for
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.
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.
Resorts crew pilots the boat out of and back into the
are equipped with VHF marine-band radio in case anyone gets lost or
has a mechanical problem.
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
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.
high-energy Las Vegas vacation, a long weekend, or even a whole
week, on Lake Mead is a decompression chamber, Cook said.
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.
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.
mountains and stunning sunsets are still present, and chances are
you wont run into another person, unless you want to.
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
In addition to
water sports and hiking, Lake Mead is a good place to view desert
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.
chipmunks, mule deer, porcupines and jackrabbits are also among the
animals one might see in the less-populated areas.
the reporter who wrote this article, send e-mail to [email protected].