Temple Bar’s myriad amenities mostly undiscovered

Temple Bar is only an hour or so from Boulder City, yet somehow has remained underutilized, if not undiscovered, by most of the city’s outdoor lovers. That reason alone would recommend it as an especially relaxing getaway destination, but there are plenty of other reasons.

For one, its winter weather is about perfect for outdoor activity. On the Arizona shore of Lake Mead, the area is about 1,235 feet in elevation, and is usually a few degrees warmer than Las Vegas. Daily highs in February average in the mid-60s.

You’ll find great desert landscapes to hike, and if you get out on the lake by boat, you can explore the shores, fish or watch birds. Just coming to the campground for the night is well worth the trip, and includes the bonus of night skies much darker than anywhere in the Las Vegas Valley, making it a good place to stargaze.

Temple Bar Marina takes center stage here and if you didn’t bring your own boat, you can easily rent one. The marina has several types available including those suitable for fishing, waterskiing and such, as well as deck boats, personal watercraft and kayaks. Boats are available to rent hourly, daily and for multiple days. Make reservations through Forever Resorts at 800-255-5561. It’s open daily from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. MST (Arizona time) Monday through Friday and 8 to 4:30 p.m. MST Saturday and Sunday.

Once on the water, you can head in either direction but I prefer upriver to South Cove. Along the way you will find a few sandy beaches and plenty of small coves to check out. Wildlife viewing is almost always satisfying; I have seen dozens of desert bighorn sheep as well as wild burros along the shores, beside bald eagles, ospreys and hawks.

Of all camping destinations in the sprawling Lake Mead National Recreation Area, the Temple Bar Campground is my favorite. I have camped there about a dozen times over the years and found it mostly empty most of the time, which is very unusual for park service campgrounds. On two different occasions last month, our party had it entirely to ourselves, an extraordinary luxury.

The campground is clean and well-maintained, with all standard amenities such as picnic tables, fire pits, restrooms and potable water from spigots. Furthermore, it is highly vegetated, adding privacy and shade, if you need it. The vegetation is mostly nonnative species: oleander, fan palms, Mediterranean olive and eucalyptus. Sites are $10 per night, first come, first served.

Handy to the campground are a couple of hills you can climb in just a few minutes. Bring a chair or a blanket, and these heights make great perches to view the dark night skies. Feb. 18 will bring a new moon, i.e., a dark one, making it easier to see faint celestial objects such as galaxies and star clusters. March 5 will bring a full moon, a delight in itself.

If tent camping isn’t your thing, the marina also has lodging and an RV park with full hook-ups, laundry, restrooms and showers. There are many types of lodging choices including single rooms, kitchen rooms and cabins; rates run $51 to $111 a night through March, with higher prices later in the season. Many rooms are pet-friendly. The marina has a restaurant, store and gasoline, and there is a small airstrip close by. For further information and hours contact Forever Resorts at 928-767-3211. or www.templebarlakemead.com/.

There is currently no entry fee to drive into the park, via Temple Bar, but this could change.

Remember that cellphones do not work in this neck of the boonies.

For more information about Lake Mead National Recreation Area, call 702-293-8990 or visit www.nps.gov/lake/.

Many of Deborah Wall’s columns have been compiled in the book “Base Camp Las Vegas, Hiking the Southwestern States.” She is also the author of “Great Hikes, a Cerca Country Guide” and a co-author of the newly released book “Access For All, Seeing the Southwest With Limited Mobility.” Wall can be reached at Deborabus@aol.com.

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