For the second year in a row, Lake Mead National Recreation Area is the sixth-most-visited park in the nation.
According to the National Park Service, approximately 7.5 million people visited the park in 2018, and 1.9 million accessed it through U.S. Highway 93 in Boulder City.
“Boulder City serves as a gateway community to the Lake Mead National Recreation Area,” said Jill Rowland-Lagan, CEO of the Boulder City Chamber of Commerce. “As we often only think of summer as a time for boaters and water recreation, we actually see the visitation numbers spread throughout the year. This allows for tourism on a rather consistent level passing through Boulder City.”
Rowland-Lagan said there isn’t a quantifiable percentage of those stopping in town, but the current hotel study shows that the town sees some of its highest numbers in correlation with events at the lake.
“This valuable and essential partnership established in 1937 is as historic as Boulder City,” she added. “We are grateful for the continued support of our local businesses by LMNRA as a major contributor to our local economy.”
The total number of visitors was about 400,000 less than in 2017, when 7.9 million people came to the park.
“Lake Mead National Recreation Area continues to be a popular destination because of the diverse activities that you can do in the park year-round and because it’s only minutes from Las Vegas,” said Todd Suess, acting park superintendent.
In addition to boating, hiking and camping opportunities, there are history and memories attached to the park.
“For us, it’s just like family out there,” said Danielle Layton Tapper, of Henderson.
Tapper said she is a fifth-generation local, and both her of her great-grandfathers worked on Hoover Dam. She said she has many memories of fishing in Lake Mead with them and other family members when she was growing up. She’s also had some major life events happen there.
“We end every trip to Arizona or Utah with a swing through the lake because we love the serene end to our frequent road trips,” she said. “It’s also where we got engaged and where we go for 4×4 trail adventures and one-night campouts when we need a quick nature fix.”
For her family, it’s also a place to relax and recharge that’s close to home.
“I get a real sense of peace and serenity there,” she said.
Former Boulder City resident Deliah Capps Gerson said the best summer days of her life were spent in town and on the lake with her grandparents and family.
“On one occasion, I remember my grandmother meticulously packing our picnic lunch, but she forgot to pack the ground beef for the hamburgers,” Gerson said. “We were so excited to be on vacation we just laughed as my granddad trekked faithfully back to the house to pick up our main ingredient.
And while we were waiting, we walked to the water’s edge and played in the waves in the warm, dry air. … We had time to bathe Little Darling, my grandparents’ dog, in the water, watching her run on the sand and dip into the water. … She was dry in no time and ready for our cookout.”
Gerson said she still visits every summer because her cousins live in Henderson and her grandfather lives in town.
According to the Park Service, nearly 440 million people have visited the recreation area since 1937, and it has ranked among the top 10 most-visited national parks since 1938.
Boulder Basin is the most-visited location in the recreation area, accessed by about 1.9 million visitors via U.S. Highway 93 in Boulder City
“We are continuing to improve the visitor experience for the millions of people who enjoy Lake Mead by prioritizing the park’s maintenance backlog,” Suess said. “We are revitalizing campgrounds, upgrading the exterior trails and features at the visitor center and improving roads and launch ramps.”
“The visitation to our national parks continues to affirm that Americans are in love with their public lands and hold dear the stories of our nation embodied in the natural, cultural and historic landscapes we protect in the national park system,” said National Park Service Deputy Director Dan Smith.
Contact reporter Celia Shortt Goodyear at email@example.com or at 702-586-9401. Follow her on Twitter @csgoodyear.
Top 10 most-visited National Park Service sites
Golden Gate National Recreation Area — 15,223,697
Blue Ridge Parkway — 14,690,418
Great Smoky Mountains National Park — 11,421,200
Gateway National Recreation Area — 9,243,305
Lincoln Memorial — 7,804,683
Lake Mead National Recreation Area — 7,578,958
George Washington Memorial Parkway — 7,288,623
Grand Canyon National Park — 6,380,495
Natchez Trace Parkway — 6,362,439
Vietnam Veterans Memorial — 4,719,148