Temple Bar, part of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Arizona, makes a superb winter getaway for a day or for several days of camping, boating, fishing, exploring the area’s back roads and enjoying the night skies. You will find solitude there, at the campground and out on the water.
The area is named for a massive rock formation suggesting some striking building such as a temple.
The campground is definitely the best in Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Each site has a fire pit and a picnic table, plus there are clean restrooms and potable water from spigots. The campground is highly vegetated, consisting of mostly non-native species: oleander, fan palms, Mediterranean olive and eucalyptus, which add privacy and shade. But don’t roast hot dogs on skewers made of oleander twigs; they’re quite poisonous.
Come nightfall, grab your blanket or lawn chair and climb one of the small hills here for some of the best stargazing anywhere near Southern Nevada. Surprisingly, stray light from Las Vegas does not interfere as much as you would think. Look for the winter constellations. Orion is the most famous, but its neighbors include Canis Major, Gemini, Taurus, Perseus, Eridanus and Cetus.
At an elevation of about 1,235 feet, it is a couple of degrees or so warmer than Boulder City.
The full-service marina rents everything from kayaks and fishing boats to deck and ski boats. If you rent a boat, head out on Lake Mead’s smooth waters and check out the many coves along the shoreline.
Also there are a store with basic supplies, motel rooms, gas pumps and a restaurant that serves very good basic food and enriches it with super sunset views.
Depending on your cellphone carrier, service is pretty much nonexistent except in a few areas along the access road to Temple Bar.
Before you set out, download a map of the area, including the lake and approved backcountry roads, at www.nps.gov/lake/.
It’s best to call before you set out, though, to check on the availability of watercraft and hours at the restaurant and store. Contact Temple Bar Marina at 928-767-3211 or http://www.templebarlakemead.com/.
Many of Deborah Wall’s columns have been compiled into books about hiking in the Southwest. She is also the author of “Great Hikes, a Cerca Country Guide” and a co-author of the book “Access For All, Seeing the Southwest With Limited Mobility.” Wall can be reached at Deborabus@aol.com.
From Boulder City, take U.S. Highway 93 south about 25 miles and go left onto Temple Bar Road. Drive 26 miles to the campground, marina, store and lake.