weather icon Clear

Lake Mead ranks fifth among national park visits

The number of visitors to Lake Mead National Recreation Area rose by five percent last year, making it the fifth-most popular national park in the United States.

According to figures released by the National Park Service on Feb. 17, Lake Mead brought in 7.2 million visitors in 2015, moving the local attraction up one spot from 2014.

“There aren’t many places like Lake Mead. I can bring the family and just hang out for a day,” Las Vegas resident James Alexandrou said last week during a park visit. “I’ve been coming here since I was a kid and it’s crazy to think I’m bringing my kids here now.”

National Park Service spokeswoman Christie Vanover credited the increased number of visits at Lake Mead to record-setting tourism figures in the Las Vegas Valley.

“Anytime there is more visitation in Las Vegas we tend to see more visitation out here in Lake Mead as well,” she said.

According to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, Las Vegas brought in 42.3 million visitors in 2015, a nearly 3 percent annual increase and the most on record.

Overall, more than 307 million people visited national parks in 2015, a 4.9 percent increase over 2014, when a record 292.8 million recreation visits were tallied.

Topping Lake Mead’s visitation numbers were Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia, 15 million; Golden Gate National Recreation Area in San Francisco, 14.8 million; Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina and Tennessee, 10.7 million; and the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., 7.9 million. Nearby Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona ranked 10th with 5.5 million visitors in 2015.

“The popularity of national parks is well known, but last year’s numbers really are extraordinary,” National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis said. “As the National Park Service celebrates its 100th year, we’re preparing to welcome more visitors than ever, including a new generation of park supporters and advocates who are discovering their own national park adventures.”

Part of the nationwide centennial celebration is a program called Find Your Park, designed to create awareness of the Park Service and help people find national parks near them.

According to the Park Service report, 368,000 more people visited Lake Mead in 2015 than in the previous year, with Boulder Beach being the most visited location in the park.

Vanover said visitation begins to heat up in the summer, with an average of 3.5 million visitors between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area is made up of two districts: Lake Mead, which brought in 5.4 million visitors in 2015, and Lake Mohave, which had around 2 million visitors.

“We are excited to see more and more people discover Lake Mead. It’s not just a park with two lakes. There are a lot of trails and hiking experiences, and we’re seeing more people find the diversity we have out here in Lake Mead,” Vanover said.

Admission to the park is $20 per car, $15 for motorcycles, and $10 for those who walk in or ride their bicycle to the park. The admission is good for one week.

— Contact reporter Juan Diego Pergentili at jpergentili@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9401. Follow him on Twitter @jdpbcreview.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Hoover Dam marks 85th anniversary of final concrete pour

On Friday, May 29, Hoover Dam celebrates a unique anniversary. It will have been 85 years since the last of the concrete was poured for the project.

Rescue efforts at lake save 12 from capsized boat

Weather, including strong winds and flash flooding, resulted in more than 80 incidents at Lake Mead National Recreation Area on Sunday, May 10, including two capsized vessels.

Visitors flock to Lake Mead

Tired of being cooped up at home, visitors swarmed Lake Mead National Recreation Area on Saturday, May 2, after the park opened to annual pass holders.

Lake Mead remains popular tourist attraction

For the third consecutive year, Lake Mead National Recreation Area has ranked as the National Park Service’s sixth-most-visited recreation site.

Eagle eyes keep bird count accurate

When it comes to counting bald eagles, technology has to take a back seat to good old-fashioned fieldwork. At Lake Mead National Recreation Area, that means biologists, binoculars and boats.

Official lauds state’s water conservation activities

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman said Dec. 11 that Nevada has been a national leader in water conservation by reducing demand on the Colorado River and investing in infrastructure over the past two decades.

Birthday Worth Celebrating

Noel Tipon, left, of Kailua, Hawaii, accepts a cupcake from Thomas Valencia, a ranger at Lake Mead National Recreation Area, as the park celebrated its 55th birthday Tuesday, Oct. 8. Joining in the cake cutting ceremonies was park ranger Matt Caire.

Boulder Beach camp area gets renovation; lake trails reopen

Lake Mead National Recreation Area is undergoing some improvements as one of its campgrounds is being renovated and three of its trails have reopened after being closed because of safety concerns.