Welcome to Nevada! This is a new state for me and one I’m very excited to be exploring for the next few days.
Southern Nevada is pretty spectacular. You may immediately think of Las Vegas, and that’s fair because Vegas is awesome! However, if you step outside of the Strip you’ll see there are some very cool places to explore.
Bright and early, to beat the beat and the crowds, head over to the Hoover Dam. It’s free to enter! You just have to cross through security, and if you’re car camping like me and your entire vehicle is packed with stuff, they may ask you to pull over so they can search.
The guard may also joke and say “any more dam questions?” It’ll make you laugh and put you at ease again so you can go see the dam. You walk up a short trail and then you cross over the bridge with a pretty cool view of the dam.
You can also experience this with a guided tour if you want to learn more about the history and construction, but I opted for a good old internet search!
Up next? I hope you’re ready for a day at the lake! Lake Mead is just spectacular! The National Recreational Area is massive, and you can head to plenty of spots around the lake to find cool camping, swimming and boating spots.
I checked into a campsite at Boulder Beach Campground. My National Park Pass got me into the park, and then it cost $20 for an over-night campsite. This campground has bathrooms but no showers, and it’s close to the water but not really a walkable distance because of the wildlife in vegetation. The park ranger recommended we drive down to the beach, so we left some supplies at the campsite to mark our territory and then we drove down to the lake front!
Lake Mead is just incredible. The lake is surrounded by these rugged mountains with shades of maroon and purple, and it seems like you’re in a secret dome. It literally gives you stunning 360 views. Boats will zoom past and planes will fly by overhead, and you’ll feel like you’ve found the best oasis in the desert.
I absolutely recommend strong sunscreen, a cooler with lots of water and a tent or umbrella for some shade. The sun in Nevada is no joke. It was over 100 degrees (F) by 8 a.m. and we saw temperatures of 105 (F) for most of the day. Even the water warmed up so unless you were at least 12 inches deep, it was like bath water.
Once you got out deeper it was wonderfully chilly and I had the best day floating in my $5 float from Walmart! There’s nothing I’d rather do on a blistering hot day than swim.
When you’re sun-kissed (or burnt, in my case) and ready for some air conditioning, drive a few miles into the historic Boulder City. I think this is an adorable little spot! It’s got 50’s-style signs, cacti and steep roads. The downtown has some restaurants and wine bars, and even a cool Area-51-themed shop where you can get “alien vodka.” (I’m convinced it’s just a cool bottle, but you know I still bought some).
The best way to survive Nevada’s seemingly-never-ending summer heat wave? Ice cream! Stop at Grandma Daisy’s for a delicious ice cream cone. They have lots of other sweets too.
And that’s a wrap on a pretty incredible day in Southern Nevada. I watched the sun go down from our campsite and I was just blown away. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to how beautiful the desert sunsets are.
Until the next adventure, happy exploring!