For decades Boulder City kids flocked to Boulder Beach on Lake Mead for swimming, playing and socializing during the summer. Their parents carried ice chests packed with their favorite beverages, spread blankets or brought folding chairs to the rocky beach to enjoy the water and the sun, and to watch their young children splashing in the shallow water along the shore.
There were summer swimming lessons for the kids, who were bused from Boulder City to the beach and back; there were birthday parties, with a picnic and a swim in the lake; there were day trips for youth groups; there was boating and water skiing; and there were special events.
Beginning in 1945, there were annual speed boat races. The American Power Boat Association reported on the fifth annual Lake Mead Regatta held in November 1950:
“A capacity crowd numbering high in the thousands, the largest ever to attend a marine event in Nevada, jammed every inch of Boulder Beach and was treated to the hottest racing ever seen in the West.” (Reprinted by the American Power Boat Association from Pacific Motor Boat, January 1951.)
Today, there continue to be sporting events on and around the lake that include major triathlons — swimming, biking, running — which attract athletes and spectators from Boulder City and beyond.
In the late 1950s Boulder City built a community swimming pool that attracted many swimmers and sunbathers who would otherwise have been at Boulder Beach. But even to this day, there are those who prefer the unlimited stretches of water at Boulder Beach where one can swim for miles without turning back from one end of the pool to the other. Although, swimmers now must be careful to clean up when they come out of the water.
Although swimming and sunning can be enjoyed at the community pool, local motels and in backyards, one sport that has continued to be popular since the beginning is boating. Sailboats, canoes, motorboats, Sea-Doos, WaveRunners all can be found on the lake, rented or owned.
Regardless of the water level of the lake, Lake Mead Marina is as busy as ever. There are five listed businesses in Boulder City that sell boats, five boat repair shops and 10 boat storage facilities, not to mention the boats parked at the curb or in private driveways.
Boating is a very prominent part of life and commerce in Boulder City. Boats from other places glide along U.S. Highway 93 toward Lake Mead behind trucks, jeeps or SUVs; pulled in to fill their gas tanks at filling stations on the highway; and often seen in parking lots, angled across three or more spaces, boats in tow behind them, their owners packing ice and cold beverages in coolers in the back, looking forward to a great day on the lake.
Memorial Day weekend, just past, like other summer holiday weekends in Boulder City, finds the city crammed full of vacationers — boaters, hikers and others who consider the city and the lake a great place to visit, even for a day.Tthe largest motels and hotels in town were either booked for the weekend or could offer only limited availability as of the Thursday before the weekend.
Over the decades, Lake Mead has been appreciated and enjoyed in various ways. It has been appreciated for the view from the top of the hill during the day and for the romantic evenings spent behind the administration building gazing at the lake in the moonlight; for the rocky beach that offered swimming and even diving off of the deep-water raft (access points are paved now for swimmers; how the kids from earlier decades would have laughed at that!); and for the boating, canoeing, Sea-Dooing, and cruises enjoyed by residents and multitudes of visitors.
Of the many attractions Boulder City has for visitors to the area, Lake Mead is one of the greatest for the variety of leisure and sporting activities it has to offer, and Memorial Day weekend provided the perfect opportunity to enjoy them.
Susan Stice McIntyre is a native of Boulder City, a first-generation 31er, and former member and chairman of the Boulder City Historic Preservation Committee.