Saturday, March 30, 2019

3/30 Las Vegas Bay on Lake Mead

Well, it is actually NOT on Lake Mead, but it was once.  There is a marina and boat storage area, plus the remains of an old boat launch ramp and some docks.  So, now it is just dry land a long way from any beach or bay, but it is a beautiful place.  

This in the distance is Las Vegas Bay Campground.  No hookups, but kind of a pretty area.

This campground is older, so it is hard to find spots that are big enough, but I found this long pull-through.

 Went for a walk and found some wildflowers.  Need to look these up.

There are palm trees and other shrubbery that has clearly been planted, and each plant has its own trickle watering system.  I caught this one turned on.  

This is a creosote bush in bloom.  If you rub the leaves between your fingers, you can smell the odor of creosote.  Usually, you see these leaves dry and brittle, but this is spring and they had rain here a couple of weeks ago, so everything is green.  

I don't know its name, but there is a river that goes past the campground and dumps into the far west end of Lake Mead, creating a sort of marshy area for wildlife. 

Onward tomorrow to Valley of Fire.  It is first-come, first-served, so I will have to get there early.


3/30 Poor, Sad Lake Mead

So why is Lake Mead sad?  The problem is that when it was first filled, it had a lot more water in it, so they optimistically built marinas, campgrounds, and even stores where they thought the eventual shoreline will be.  Unfortunately, the lake level has been declining ever since because more water is being taken out than nature can add, so the shoreline has receded and left marinas and campground far from shore.  

It is still a beautiful place and there is enough water for fish and boaters, but it is still sad.  This is the road from Las Vegas. 

Nice to be over 62 and have a senior access pass, which gives me free access to all federal parks.  

Normally, I stay at Boulder Beach, but it is getting harder and harder to get campsites as more people are camping these days.  So I ended up at the very far left, at Las Vegas Bay.  Sites are older and smaller here and no where near the water, but there were available sites when I checked in on Thursday.   No hookups, either, but they do have very generous hours when they allow generator use.  See next post for photos. 

The lighter colored "bathtub ring" is where the water level was 60 years ago.  You can see how much bigger and deeper the lake was way back then.  

Look how high the water level was on the far shore.  It was 170' higher then!  

Upstream along the Colorado River is Lake Powell, and there are big problems on that lake with water so shallow in some areas that boats have to take very long routes to get to marinas.  There is some consideration to completely closing that lake and letting the water all come down to Lake Mead.   

Sunday, March 24, 2019

3/22 Raft Trip on Colorado River from Hoover Dam to Willow Beach

I have wanted to take this trip for some time, but it was just too cold last year.  So, I was very happy to be here this year when the temps were in the low 70s, and it was sunny.  I even got a discount because the campground is managed by the rafting trip company.  And, they took me via shuttle to the pickup point at Boulder Beach RV Park, where we boarded a larger bus to the launch site below the dam.

You can see the dam in the distance and the "new" bridge that was build about 10 years ago.  Previous to that, you had to drive over the dam, which slowed up traffic and was not safe from terrorism attacks.  The road to get down here is restricted and very narrow--not one I would like to drive, even in a car instead of the big bus.

As you can see, these are not little rafts.  Your feet do not even get wet, although there was some spray from the waves on the river a couple of times. 

The other two rafts were for a large school group.

And away we go!  This rope is as far as you can take a boat, and we were told the area was heavily monitored with video camera for security purposes. 

There are power boats and kayaks all along this 13 mile stretch of river.  Most have been put in at Willow Beach because there are just not any roads along the canyon.  There are places where you could hike in, but you would have to carry your kayak.  And there are also companies that would put you into the river where we got onto our raft, but you cannot drive down there privately. 

These palm trees are not natural to this area, so they must have been seeded from birds somehow. 

A last look back at the bridge.

And looking forward at the Black Canyon of the Colorado.  They were originally thinking of building Hoover Dam a few miles down this canyon.  Glad they left it wild. 

Some red-spinded barrel cactus.

And some more photos of the river. 

This is one of several beaches that you are allowed to camp on.  No services and a long hike or paddle to get here, however. 

The raft guide has a hat on and his face covered up against the sun!  It was a nice cool day, so you can see people wearing jackets and long-sleeved shirts. 

This small inlet had a couple of waterfalls in it.  We just barely fit inside with the big raft. 

If you have a large group, you can even rent a pontoon boat from the marina at Willow Beach.

Most of the rock in the canyon is volcanic. 

Way back when, they used to monitor water level manually. They built a house for the monitor, but he had to walk that mile, most of it along something like this.  
 And then he had to pull himself across the river in this contraption.

He would spend most of his day in this tiny hut, taking several measurements over time.

We are almost to Willow Beach.  This is the fish hatchery. 

You can see the marina in the distance.

Beautiful day and a perfect trip!  I left here at 8:45 a.m. on the shuttle, and got on the bus to the river at about 10:15 a.m.  Arrived back here at about 2:30 p.m. so it was a long day.  The raft company provides lunches, and we did stop at one beach to use the bucket porta-potty the raft carries.  (The tour guide puts it behind a bush on the beach for a tiny bit of privacy.)  I highly recommend this trip, but it can get extremely hot here, so you need a cooler day, like today was.