*This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure for more info.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area, which encompasses over 1.5 million acres of beaches, mountains, canyons, and forests, is truly an oasis like no other. The western entrance is located just minutes from the Las Vegas metropolitan area, but the vast open spaces and natural wonders make it feel worlds away. The National Recreation Area includes Lake Mead and its 750+ miles of shoreline, Lake Mohave to the south, and the Colorado River stretching all the way east to the edge of Grand Canyon National Park.

So what’s the best way to escape the daily grind and fully immerse yourself in the beauty of Lake Mead National Recreation Area? Spending a night (or many nights) under the stars in your tent or RV! Camping allows you to make the most of your visit to Lake Mead National Recreation Area. And with over 900 campsites within the park boundaries and even more in the surrounding area, there’s a perfect site for every style of camper.

In this guide we’ll break down all of your options, from the 14 developed campgrounds and backcountry camping areas in the park, to campgrounds and free camping in the nearby area.

Lake Mead with bluffs in the background under a blue sky.

Lake Mead Recreation Area Campgrounds

The first step in planning your perfect camping trip in Lake Mead National Recreation Area is to understand a bit about the geography of the park. Lake Mead and Lake Mohave straddle the border between Nevada and Arizona along the Colorado River.

The most popular way to access the recreation area is from the Las Vegas metro area, which is near the northwest edge of the park. The campgrounds in this part of Lake Mead National Recreation Area (Las Vegas Bay and Boulder Beach) tend to be the busiest, but also the most convenient to access.

Lake Mohave is located in the southern portion of Lake Mead NRA, and can be accessed from Bullhead, AZ. Those wishing to camp along Lake Mohave can choose from two different campgrounds and numerous backcountry sites.

The Overton Arm area encompasses the northern section of Lake Mead National Recreation Area. It’s bordered by Valley of Fire State Park. It takes a bit effort to get to this part of the park, meaning the campgrounds tend to be less crowded. The Overton Arm area has camping for RVs and tents at Echo Bay, and there are plenty of backcountry options as well.

Finally, the eastern side of Lake Mead NRA feels quite remote and is a good option for those seeking peace and quiet. There’s a developed campground suitable for tents and smaller RVs, as well as many backcountry options.

Check out the map below to get a general sense of where the developed campgrounds in Lake Mead National Recreation Area are located.

Reservations & Permits

Advance reservations can be made for all of the RV parks in Lake Mead National Recreation Area. For the NPS-operated campsites that are first-come, first served, plan to arrive early, as they fill up quickly on weekends, holidays, and other peak times. Most campgrounds require that you pay in cash upon arrival. This table provides reservation information for every campground in Lake Mead NRA:

CampgroundReservations Possible?How to Reserve
Boulder Beach CampgroundOnly for group sites. First-come, first-served for all other sites.Recreation.gov
Lake Mead RV Village (Boulder Beach)Yes.Visit Lake Mead Mohave Adventures or call (702) 293-2540
Las Vegas Bay CampgroundNo. First-come, first-served for all sites.n/a
Callville Bay CampgroundYes.Recreation.gov
Callville Bay RV ParkYes (Only 5 sites available).Call Callville Bay Full-Service Marina: (702) 565-8958
Echo Bay CampgroundNo. First-come, first-served for all sites.n/a
Echo Bay RV VillageYes.Visit Lake Mead Mohave Adventures or call (702) 394-4000
Temple Bar CampgroundNo. First-come, first-served for all sites.n/a
Temple Bar Marina RV ParkYes.Call Temple Bar Resort Marina: (928) 767-3211
Cottonwood Cove CampgroundNo. First-come, first-served for all sites.n/a
Cottonwood Cove Resort RV ParkYes.Visit Cottonwood Cove Resort Marina or call (855) 918-5253
Katherine Landing Campground and RV ParkOnly for full-hookup RV sites. All other sites are first-come, first-served.Visit Katherine Landing or call (928) 754-3245
Willow Beach Campground and RV ParkYes.Visit Willow Beach or call (928) 767-4747

Permits are NOT required for camping in Lake Mead National Recreation Area, including for backcountry camping. However, you will need to pay an entrance fee ($25 for vehicles, $15 for walkers/bikers) and a nightly fee if you plan to camp at any of the campgrounds.

Sunset over Cottonwood Cove, Lake Mead
Sunset views from Cottonwood Cove. Photo courtesy of NPS.

What to Bring

Preparing for your Lake Mead camping trip involves more than deciding which campground best fits your needs. There is also the important job of making sure you have all the right gear you’ll need to ensure a great trip.

We’re sure you’ll already have the essentials like a great tentsleeping bags, and camp chairs, but below are some of our favorite items specifically for camping in Lake Mead NRA:

  • Coleman Camping Stove – This classic piece of gear is perfect for cooking up deluxe campsite dinners.
  • Portable water container – These portable water containers are a lifesaver, especially as some camping areas do not have water available.
  • Cooler – Keeping food and drinks cool is essential when camping, particularly in the hot temps that are common at Lake Mead. We can’t recommend Yeti enough!
  • Shade Structure – The sun can be intense in Lake Mead NRA and not all of the campsites have reliable shade. A pop-up canopy like this one is easy to pack and can be moved around to maximize shade at any time of day.
  • Lake Mead National Recreation Area Map – Essential for any trip, a good map is a must.
  • Books – This book provides a fascinating look at Lake Mead’s history, and this is a good guidebook of the area.
  • Cash: Be prepared to pay in cash for your campsite, as many of the fee stations do not accept credit/debit cards.

If you plan on backpacking in Lake Mead National Recreation Area, be sure to check out this great packing list.

Swimmers on Boulder Beach at Lake Mead
It’s a good idea to bring a shade structure for your campsite and it can also be handy for the beach! Photo courtesy of NPS.

When to Camp in Lake Mead National Recreation Area

All of the campgrounds in Lake Mead National Recreation Area are open year-round. However, the desert climate makes it so that camping is quite difficult in the summer months (July-September) when temperatures routinely climb above 100 degrees. Also, keep in mind that some popular hiking trails are closed in the summertime.

Spring (April-June) and fall (October-December) are the best months to camp in Lake Mead NRA. Expect warm, sunny days and cool nights with very little rain. Springtime brings out beautiful wildflowers, as well. These are also the most popular seasons for camping at Lake Mead, so plan to arrive early and/or make reservations, if possible.

Winter (January-March) can be a wonderful time to camp in Lake Mead NRA. There are typically fewer crowds than in the peak seasons, and the cooler weather is great for hiking and biking. Nighttime lows can dip into the 30’s, so campers should make sure to pack warm clothing and a good sleeping bag.

Yellow Las Vegas Bearpoppies blooming at Lake Mead
Springtime brings an array of colorful wildflowers to Lake Mead NRA. Photo courtesy of NPS.

Developed Campgrounds on Lake Mead

There are nine unique developed campgrounds and RV Parks along the shore of Lake Mead . These campgrounds vary in their size and proximity to different areas of the park. Details for all nine campgrounds are below.

Boulder Beach Campground

Number of Sites: 148 sites
Fee: $20/night
RVs: Yes. No hookups
Reservations: First-come, first-served
Season: Open all year

A campsite at the Boulder Beach Campground in Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Most of the sites at Boulder Beach have great views and some shade. Photo courtesy of NPS/Andrew Cattoir

The Boulder Beach campground is arranged into one large camping area flanked by four additional loops on one side. The campground has lots of lush vegetation, which provides shade and privacy for many sites. Nearly all sites have great views of Lake Mead and/or the River Mountains.

The campground is located near the mile-long Boulder Beach, a popular spot for swimming, boating, and fishing. There are several easy, family-friendly trails in the area, and the Hoover Dam is just a short drive away.

Every site at the Boulder Beach campground has a picnic table and firepit. Most sites can accommodate large RVs and there is a dump station, although there are no hookups. WIFI, bathrooms, and drinking water are available at the campground, but there are no showers.

There are five group sites at the Boulder Beach Campground. Each site accommodates 12-30 people and costs $80/night. Only tent camping is permitted at the group sites. You must reserve group sites in advance. Reservations can be made at recreation.gov

Boulder Beach Campground Map
Map of the Boulder Beach Campground, courtesy of NPS.

Lake Mead RV Village

Number of Sites: 115 sites
Fee: $45-60/night
RVs: Yes (no tents).
Reservations: Call (702) 293-2540
Season: Open all year

RV campers looking for full hookup accommodation in the Boulder Beach area will love Lake Mead RV Village. This friendly RV park is easy to get to, but it has a quiet and peaceful feel. It is situated near Boulder Beach and all of its great activities.

All sites offer full hookups, including cable and WIFI. There are back-in and pull-through sites available. Lakeside sites are more expensive, but many campers report that the views are worth the premium rate. Pets are welcome.

Amenities include restrooms, showers, outdoor games, laundry, propane for purchase, and a convenience store.

An RV Parked at Lake Mead RV Village, Boulder Beach
Lake Mead RV Village. Photo courtesy of NPS/Andrew Cattoir.

Las Vegas Bay Campground

Number of Sites: 84 sites
Fee: 
$20/night
RVs:
Yes. No hookups
Reservations: 
First-come, first-served
Season: 
Open all year

A tent under a large tree at the Las Vegas Bay Campground in Lake Mead National Recreation Area.
Shade and views from a campsite at the Las Vegas Bay Campground. Photo courtesy of NPS/Andrew Cattoir.

The best part about this campground is its close proximity to the shops, restaurants, amenities, and attractions in Las Vegas. It is located about 40 minutes from The Strip and just 15 minutes from the city of Henderson, which also offers great activities and nightlife. Despite the fact that it’s so close to the city, the Las Vegas Bay Campground feels quiet and close to nature.

The campground does not provide lake access, and it’s about a 20-minute drive to a boat launch, marinas, and other waterfront activities. Closer to Las Vegas Bay, you’ll find great birdwatching and hiking along the 3.9 mile Bluffs Trail. The Las Vegas Bay picnic area has covered picnic tables, potable water, restrooms, and grills. Nearly every site at the Las Vegas Bay campground is well-shaded, and the lush vegetation at the campground gives it the tranquil feel of an oasis.

Each of the campsites at the Las Vegas Bay campground have a picnic table, grill/fire pit, parking space, tent pad, and access to WIFI. There are restrooms (no showers), potable water, and a dump station on site. Most sites can accommodate large RVs, but there are no hookups.

Map of the Las Vegas Bay Campground, Lake Mead Camping
Map of the Las Vegas Bay Campground, courtesy of NPS.

Callville Bay Campground

Number of Sites: 52 sites
Fee: 
$20/night
RVs:
Yes. No hookups
Reservations: 
Can be made HERE
Season: 
Open all year

A picnic table and fire pit at a site at the Callville Bay Campground, Lake Mead
The Callville Bay Campground. Photo courtesy of NPS/Andrew Cattoir.

This campground is perfectly situated for boating and water sport enthusiasts. It is walking distance from the marina, where you can rent a variety of watercraft or launch your own. The Callville Bay Campground is also walking distance from the Fountain Sight Lounge restaurant and nearby snack bar. Additionally, the Callville Summit hiking trail is easily accessed from the campground, and it is highly recommended for its panoramic views of the Lake Mead area.

The NPS-run Callville Bay Campground accommodates tents and RVs, but there are no hookups. RV campers looking for full hookups should consider staying at the nearby Callville Bay RV Park. Campers seeking greater solitude can find great backcountry spots and private coves near the Callville Bay area.

The 52 sites at the Callville Bay Campground are arranged in one large loop. Each site has a parking area, level tent space, picnic table, and firepit. There is WIFI and cell service available. The campground has restrooms, potable water, and a free dump station. Campers can use the pay showers and laundry facilities at the nearby Callville Bay RV Park.

Reservations can be made up to six months in advance. CLICK HERE to reserve your campsite.

Map of the Callville Bay Campground
Map of the Callville Bay Campground, courtesy of NPS.

Callville Bay RV Park

Number of Sites: 5 sites
Fee: $20/night
RVs: Yes (no tents).
Reservations: Call (702) 565-8958
Season: Open all year

This is a very small RV park with just five sites. It is located on the lake next to the Callville Bay Marina, where you can rent watercraft or launch your own. The marina area also has a restaurant and a small shop.

Each site is large enough for big rigs and provides full hookups, WIFI, a picnic table, and a grill. There are showers and laundry facilities on site. Campers can use the dump station and water refill station at the nearby Callville Bay Campground.

Open sites at the Callville Bay RV Park, Lake Mead.
The Callville Bay RV Park has five sites with full hookups. Photo courtesy of NPS/Andrew Cattoir.

Echo Bay Campground

Number of Sites: 37 sites (more in the overflow area)
Fee: 
$20/night
RVs:
Yes. No hookups
Reservations: 
First-come, first-served
Season: 
Open all year

A campsite overlooking Echo Bay, Lake Mead National Recreation Area camping
Great views from a campsite at Echo Bay. Photo courtesy of NPS/Andrew Cattoir.

Located on the shores of the northern Overton Arm of Lake Mead, the Echo Bay Campground is a great option for those wanting to venture further from civilization and enjoy the peace and solitude of this remote location. The campground is especially perfect for fishing, either from one of the great coves in the area or via the Echo Bay boat launch. Hikers will also enjoy exploring the Redstone Trail or the historic ghost town of St.Thomas.

The campground is divided between a lower and upper loop. The lower loop contains all 37 of the official campsites, open year round. The upper loop is used as overflow during busy periods, and remains closed in quieter seasons.

Each site has a parking space, picnic table, and grill/fire pit. There are flush toilets, sinks, and drinking water taps available throughout the campground (no showers). A fish cleaning station is located on site. The main office sells snacks and fuel. Cell service is unreliable at Echo Bay and there is no WIFI.

RVs are welcome at the Echo Bay campground, although not all sites can accommodate large rigs. There are no hookups, but there is a free dump station on site.

Map of the Echo Bay Campground, Lake Mead
Map of Echo Bay Campground, courtesy of NPS.

Echo Bay RV Village

Number of Sites: 58 sites
Fee: $30/night
RVs: Yes (no tents).
Reservations: Call (702) 394-4000
Season: Open all year

The Echo Bay RV Village offers spacious full hookup back-in sites to accommodate RVs of all types and sizes. It is organized into two loops, with sites on the outer loop priced a bit higher than those on the inner loop. With room for boat parking and a nearby launch, it is especially convenient for those looking to spend time on the water. In addition to nearby fishing opportunities, the location of the Echo Bay RV Village provides easy access to hiking trails and picnic areas.

Amenities include water, sewer, and electric hookups, restrooms, showers, and laundry facilities. There is WIFI available on site, although it is a bit spotty. A gas station and small convenience store are located at the main office, and there’s a fish cleaning station nearby.

Vehicles parked at the Echo Bay RV Village at Lake Mead National Recreation Area.
The Echo Bay RV Village. Photo courtesy of NPS/Andrew Cattoir.

Temple Bar Campground

Number of Sites: 71 sites
Fee: 
$20/night
RVs:
Yes. No hookups
Reservations: 
First-come, first-served
Season: 
Open all year

Campsites at the Temple Bar Campground in Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Campsites at the Temple Bar campground. Photo courtesy of NPS/Andrew Cattoir.

Located on the eastern side of Lake Mead, the Temple Bar area is a quiet oasis for hikers, boaters, and anglers. Its remote setting means that it has wide open views and excellent stargazing. The NPS-run Temple Bar Campground provides basic accommodation for tent campers and RVs (no hookups). While it is not situated directly on the lake, it is located near the Temple Bar Marina, which offers boat rentals and launching. The marina also has a restaurant, bar, and convenience shop

The Temple Bar campground is arranged in one large loop, with four roads cutting through the middle. Plentiful trees provide shade and privacy between sites. Each site has a picnic table and grill. Restrooms, sinks, and drinking water taps are located at the campground and there is a dump station on site for RVs. Cell service is unreliable at the Temple Bar campground and there is no WIFI.

In addition to the NPS campground, there are options for RV and backcountry camping in the Temple Bar area.

Temple Bar Campground Map
Map of the Temple Bar Campground, courtesy of NPS.

Temple Bar RV Park

Number of Sites: 10 sites
Fee: $30-35/night
RVs: Yes (no tents).
Reservations: Call (928) 767-3211
Season: Open all year

In addition to their lakeside cabins and motel, the Temple Bar Resort Marina also offers a small RV park with 10 full hookup sites. Sites can be rented on a nightly or monthly basis. The RV park is close to a boat launch, restaurant, trails, and many great coves that can be explored by land or water.

Amenities include full hookups, picnic tables, restrooms, coin-operated showers, laundry and WIFI.

An RV parked at Temple Bar RV Park, Lake Mead
RV sites at Temple Bar RV Park. Photo courtesy of NPS/Andrew Cattoir.

Developed Campgrounds on Lake Mohave

There are four developed campgrounds and RV parks on Lake Mohave. Each unique camping option provides access to great recreational activities, such as hiking, boating, fishing, and scuba diving. Keep reading to learn which campground is right for you.

Cottonwood Cove Campground

Number of Sites: 45 sites
Fee: 
$20/night
RVs:
Yes. No hookups
Reservations: 
First-come, first-served
Season: 
Open all year

Campsites at the Cottonwood Cove Campground, Lake Mohave.
Sites at the Cottonwood Cove Campground (upper loop). Photo courtesy of NPS/Andrew Cattoir.

Beach enthusiasts will love this waterside campground! It is walking distance to a sandy swimming beach and a marina where you can rent a boat or launch your own. The surrounding area is perfect for leisurely strolls along the beaches and coves, or mellow hikes like the Desert Discovery Trail. There’s a café, fuel station, and shop near the campground.

The 45 sites are arranged into two loops, an upper and a lower. The lower loop is easier to access and it is closer to the beach, but it can get pretty noisy and crowded. The sites are quite narrow, and RVs may find this especially challenging. Some sites are shaded by trees, but not all.

Each campsite has a picnic table, fire pit, and parking area. The campground has flush toilets, sinks, drinking water, a fish cleaning station, and a picnic area. RVs are welcome, although spots are narrow and there are no hookups. RVs looking for more amenities should check out the Cottonwood Cove RV Park next door.

Map of Cottonwood Cove Campground, Lake Mohave
Map of Cottonwood Cove Campground, courtesy of NPS.

Cottonwood Cove RV Park

Number of Sites: 72 sites
Fee: 
$41-5$0/night
RVs:
Yes.
Reservations: 
Can be made HERE or by calling (855) 918-5253
Season: 
Open all year

This spacious RV Park is perfectly positioned for enjoying Lake Mohave to the fullest. Located close to the marina, a swimming beach, a café, and a convenience store, there is no shortage of activities and amenities in the area. Views of the lake and the surrounding mountains are gorgeous.

Each of the 72 RV sites at the campground includes a picnic table, grill, and full hookups. Restrooms, showers, and laundry are available on site. Bring a shade structure, as there’s not much shade at the campground.

Cottonwood Cove RV Park Lake Mohave Camping
Cottonwood Cove RV Park. Photo courtesy of NPS/Andrew Cattoir.

Katherine Landing Campground & RV Park

Number of Sites: 157 Tent/RV sites, 25 RV-only sites
Fee: 
$20/night (basic site), $40/night (RV w/hookups)
RVs:
Yes.
Reservations: 
Can be made HERE
Season: 
Open all year

A campsite at Katherine Landing, Lake Mohave
A basic tent/RV site at the Katherine Landing Campground. Photo courtesy of NPS.

Katherine Landing is a lovely destination for RV and tent campers alike. The area is home to a marina, swimming beaches, boat rentals, and plenty of great fishing spots. There are good hiking trails nearby, including the Lake View Trail and the Fisherman’s Trail. Both the tent and RV sites are within walking distance of the marina, swim beach, restaurant, and convenience store.

Amenities at all sites include a picnic table, parking space, and access to restroom, shower, and laundry facilities. Basic campground sites have grills and and are suitable for tents or RVs, but they do not have hookups. These sites have lots of nice vegetation, which provides shade and privacy. The RV sites have full hookups, but offer less shade from trees and shrubs. WIFI and cell phone service are available at the campground.

RV sites at the Katherine Landing RV Park, Lake Mohave
Full hookup sites at the Katherine Landing RV Park. Photo courtesy of NPS.

Willow Beach Campground & RV Park

Number of Sites: 9 Tent sites, 28 RV sites
Fee: 
$35/night (tent site), $60/night (RV w/hookups)
RVs:
Yes.
Reservations: 
Can be made HERE
Season: 
Open all year

The Willow Beach Campground and RV Park enjoys a unique location along the Black Canyon Water Trail and has river, mountain, and desert views throughout. This is a great place to take a paddle tour of some of Lake Mohave’s best sites, or to explore on your own by renting a boat or kayak from the marina. There’s also a nice fishing pier close to the campground. The dramatic Arizona Hot Spring Trail is just a short drive away.

The campground has 28 RV sites with full hookups. There are also 9 tent-only sites, but it is important to note that the tent sites cannot be accessed by vehicle. You’ll need to walk a short distance to reach your campsite.

All sites have a picnic table, fire ring, and access to restroom, shower, and laundry facilities. The RV sites offer water, sewer, and electric hookups. WIFI is available at the campground.

An overhead view of the Willow Beach RV Park and Campground on Lake Mohave
An overhead view of the Willow Beach RV Park and Campground. The walk-in tent sites are in the foreground. Photo courtesy of NPS/Andrew Cattoir.

Backcountry & Dispersed Camping in Lake Mead National Recreation Area

There are endless options for backpacking and dispersed car camping in Lake Mead National Recreation Area for those looking to get off the grid. Whether you want to hike to a secluded spot, overnight with your boat in a private cove, or camp with your vehicle along a quiet backcountry road, you’ll have tons of great places to explore along the shores of Lake Mead and Lake Mohave.

Dispersed camping Echo Bay Lake Mead
Dispersed camping in a cove near Echo Bay. Photo courtesy of NPS.

Dispersed Car Camping

The most popular way style of backcountry camping in Lake Mead NRA is dispersed car camping. There are numerous backroads that give you access to off-the-beaten track campsites. There is no fee or permit required for dispersed vehicle camping, but it is important to choose a campsite in an area where camping is permitted.

Additionally, the following guidelines must be followed when car camping in the backcountry:

  • You may only stay at a backcountry campsite for 15 days at a time, and you can camp in Lake Mead NRA for up to 90 days every year.
  • Adhere to seasonal fire bans.
  • Pack out all waste (including human and pet waste).
  • Pets are generally permitted, but pay attention to area signage.
  • Check the weather in advance and prepare for extreme conditions, especially in the summer heat.
  • Vehicles must stay on designated roads. Off-roading is not permitted anywhere in Lake Mead NRA.

The following maps show where dispersed car camping is allowed in Lake Mead NRA.

Hoover Dam Area

The Hoover Dam Area encompasses much of the western side of Lake Mead and extends down to the boundary with Lake Mohave. This is a popular and easy to access area for dispersed car camping.

Lake Mead dispersed camping Hoover Dam area map
(Click to enlarge)

This map shows all of the roads where you can camp for free in the backcountry. Recommended dispersed camping areas in the Hoover Dam area include Crawdad Cove (Road #90) and Government Wash (Road #87).

Lake Mohave Area

The Lake Mohave Area encompasses the entire shoreline of Lake Mohave and reaches down to the southern tip of Lake Mead NRA near Bullhead City, NV. Some of the best backcountry camping in this area can be found in the many secluded coves along the shore of Lake Mohave. Several coves are accessible by dirt road, and backcountry toilets are available at Nine Mile Cove and Cottonwood Cove East.

Map of Lake Mohave dispersed camping areas.
(Click to enlarge)

This map shows all of the roads where you can camp for free in the backcountry. Recommended dispersed camping areas in the Lake Mohave area include 6 Mile Cove (Road #31 is a good option for 2WD vehicles) and Nellis Cove (Road #24). Keep in mind that camping is NOT allowed at Telephone Cove, Placer Cove, Cabinside Point, and Princess Cove.

Overton Arm Area

The Overton Arm area encompasses the northern branch of Lake Mohave and is bordered on the west by Valley of Fire State Park. Some parts of the Overton Arm area are quite remote, so make sure you prepare accordingly. Remember to bring plenty of drinking water, as refill points are scarce.

Map of dispersed camping areas in Overton Arm area, Lake Mead
(Click to enlarge)

This map shows all of the roads where you can camp for free in the Overton Arm area backcountry. The most highly recommended dispersed car camping location in this area is Stewart’s Point (Road #103 and Road #108). This is the only camping spot remaining on Overton Arm that provides lake access, due to low water levels.

Temple Bar Area

The Temple Bar area encompasses the eastern section of Lake Mead, and it is bordered on its eastern edge by Grand Canyon National Park.

Map of dispersed camping areas in Temple Bar area of Lake Mead
(Click to enlarge)

This map shows all of the roads where you can camp for free in the backcountry. The most highly recommended dispersed car camping locations in the Temple Bar Area are Bonelli Bay (Road #69) and Pearce Ferry. Keep in mind that many of the roads in this area, particularly north of the lake, are very rugged and should not be attempted without a good 4WD vehicle.

A cove in the Temple Bar area of Lake Mead NRA
A cove in the Temple Bar area. Photo courtesy of NPS.

Backpacking in Lake Mead NRA

If you prefer to travel by foot, there are limitless hike-in backcountry options in Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Although there are no official multi-day hiking routes in Lake Mead NRA, you can start your backpacking adventure on one of the park’s great day hikes. From the trail, you can find a secluded cove or scenic canyon and pitch your tent.

Arizona Hot Springs is one of the most popular backpacking destinations in Lake Mead NRA, but keep in mind the hot springs are closed in the summer months.

Backcountry camping is generally permitted anywhere in the park, provided you adhere to the guidelines below.

  • NO camping within 1/2 mile of a road (unless car camping on approved roads).
  • You must camp at least 100 feet away from springs and watering holes
  • If you are camping within 1/4 mile of the shoreline or hot springs, you must use a bag or container to pack out all solid human waste (and TP!)
  • Pay attention to seasonal fire restrictions

Make sure to take the proper precautions to stay safe in the backcountry. In addition to the appropriate backpacking gear, bring plenty of water (1 gallon per person, per day), sun protection, a topographic map, and a GPS device.

Arizona Hot Springs Backpacking Lake Mead
The Arizona Hot Springs Trail. Photo courtesy of NPS.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area Must Know

The following sections contain all the basic information you need to ensure you have a great time camping in Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Before we dive in, there are a few important regulations to note:

  • Camping is allowed for up to 90 days out of every consecutive 12 months.
  • You cannot camp for more than 30 days in any developed campground.
  • You cannot stay in any backcountry site for more than 15 days at a time.
  • No more than eight people per campsite.
  • Always store your food so that it cannot be accessed by wildlife.
  • Always practice Leave No Trace principles.

Detailed information on fires, pets, wildlife, and more can be found in the sections below.

Fires

Outside of seasonal fire restrictions (which are typically May-September), fires are permitted at campgrounds and in the backcountry at Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Below we’ve outline the most important considerations for fires in both the developed campgrounds and in the backcountry.

Fires at Developed Campgrounds

  • Fires must be less than 3 feet in diameter.
  • Fires are only permitted in designated grills, fire rings, or portable fireplaces.
  • Do not cut wood from nearby trees or bushes for fires.
  • Completely extinguish all fires with water. Do not cover with sand.

Fires in the Backcountry

  • Fires must be less than 3 feet in diameter.
  • Fires must be above ground. Clear all rock rings, charcoal, and ash before you leave.
  • Do not cut wood from nearby trees or bushes for fires.
  • Do not make a fire within 10 feet of the nearest beach logs or vegetation (100 feet when fire restrictions are in place).
  • Completely extinguish all fires with water. Do not cover with sand.
Silhouettes of people around a campfire on the beach at Lake Mead
Backcountry campers enjoying a fire on the beach.

Pets

Pets are generally welcome in Lake Mead National Recreation Area, including on all hiking trails, and in developed areas and campgrounds. You can also bring your pet on beaches and into the backcountry, unless otherwise stated (check area signage or ask a ranger).

If you bring your furry friend along on your Lake Mead camping trip, please remember these regulations:

  • Pets must be on a leash at all times.
  • Do not leave your pet unattended in your vehicle.
  • Always properly dispose of pet waste.

Where to Get Supplies

Many areas in Lake Mead NRA provide easy access to food, water, and fuel. In addition to the park’s many restaurants, fuel stations and convenience stores are located at all of the major marinas, including Callville Bay, Las Vegas Bay, Boulder Beach, Willow Beach, Temple Bar, and Echo Bay.

Outside of the park, there are plenty of services available regardless of which direction you’re traveling from.

On the west side of Lake Mead NRA, you can find tons of restaurants, lodging, entertainment, and shopping in either Henderson, NV or Boulder City, NV.

Bullhead City, AZ is the closest town on the southern edge of the park, just south of the Davis Dam. Here you’ll find lodging, grocery stores, gas stations, and restaurants.

To the north of Lake Mead NRA, the closest place to resupply is Overton, NV. The town has options for dining, lodging, groceries, fuel, and outdoor retailers.

Hikers on the Railroad Trail Lake Mead
The Historic Railroad Trail is one of many great pet-friendly hikes in Lake Mead NRA. Photo courtesy of NPS.

Camping Near Lake Mead National Recreation Area

With so many great camping options within Lake Mead National Recreation Area, you may never feel the need to venture beyond its boundaries in search of a campsite. However, if the campgrounds are full or you want to be closer to town, there are plenty of great campsites just outside Lake Mead NRA.

Check out your best options for RV camping and tent camping, and free dispersed camping near Lake Mead National Recreation Area below:

Kayakers enjoying the Black Canyon Water Trail, Lake Mead.
Kayakers enjoying the Black Canyon Water Trail. Photo courtesy of NPS.

Campgrounds Near Lake Mead NRA

Those camping in an RV or tent will have plenty of options just outside of Lake Mead National Recreation Area. The best option for you will depend on which side of the park you’re planning to explore. We’ve provided RV and car campgrounds near the west, south, and north sides of Lake Mead NRA. Pay attention to the details provided for each campground, as some do not allow tents.

Campgrounds on the West Side of Lake Mead NRA

Las Vegas KOA Journey at Sam’s Town

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: $30-60/night
Capacity: None stated.
Type: RV, full hookups available. NO TENTS.
Reservations: Recommended. Click here to reserve.
Pets: Allowed
More Information

Not only does this RV park offer all of the great amenities you’d expect from a KOA, but its location makes it the perfect basecamp for exploring both Las Vegas and Lake Mead. It is just steps from Sam’s Town Hotel & Casino, where you can enjoy the hotel’s facilities or catch a shuttle to the Las Vegas Strip. It’s also just 30 minutes from the Lake Mead Visitor Center.

Amenities include WIFI, a pool, and a dog park.

Canyon Trail RV Park

Number of sites: 145
Fee: $48/night (RV sites), $20/night (tent sites)
Capacity: 2 people (extra fee for additional people)
Type: RV, full hookups available. Tents.
Reservations: Recommended. Click here to reserve.
Pets: Allowed
More Information

Located just ten minutes from the Lake Mead Visitor Center, this friendly RV park is a quiet and convenient option for those looking to enjoy the surrounding area. It is also situated close to the shops, restaurants, and services in Boulder City. The campground welcomes everyone from tent campers to big rigs and the facilities are clean and well-kept.

Amenities include showers, laundry, a pool, and free WIFI.

Campgrounds on the South Side of Lake Mead NRA

Davis Camp

Number of sites: 170
Fee: $40/night (RV sites), $20/night (tent or dry RV sites)
Capacity: 4 people (extra fee for additional people)
Type: RV, full hookups available. Tents.
Reservations: Recommended for RVs. Tent sites are first-come, first-served. Click here to reserve.
Pets: Allowed
More Information

This Mohave Country Parks Campground enjoys a lovely setting along the banks of the Colorado River. It’s just a ten-minute drive from gas stations and restaurants in the small town of Laughlin, NV, and it is also about ten minutes from the Katherine Landing Marina on Lake Mohave. Many campsites are right on the beach, making it easy to cool off with a dip in the river! The area can get very crowded in the summer, so get there early to score a first-come, first-served tent site.

Amenities include restrooms, showers, picnic areas, laundry, a dump station, a fishing pier, and a boat launch. Cell phone reception is typically strong in the area.

There are full and partial hookup sites available for RVs. Click here to view a map of the campground.

Don Laughlin’s Riverside Resort RV Park

Number of sites: 740
Fee: $28/night
Capacity: Not stated.
Type: RV, full hookups. NO TENTS.
Reservations: Recommended. Call 1-800-227-3849 or Click here to reserve.
Pets: Allowed
More Information

This massive RV park is attached to Don Laughlin’s Riverside Resort and Casino. This means that RV campers get access to the many amenities at the hotel, including the pool, fitness center, and business center. Additionally, there’s a shuttle that will take you to nearby casinos. The location gives you easy proximity to Lake Mohave, as the Katherine Landing Marina is less than 10 minutes away.

Amenities at the RV park include restrooms, showers, laundry, propane sales, and a dump station. Click here to view a map of the RV park.

Campgrounds on the North Side of Lake Mead NRA

Valley of Fire State Park

Number of sites: 72
Fee: $20/night (NV residents) or $25/night (non-NV residents) +$15 park entrance fee
Capacity: Not stated.
Type: RV with hookups, tent.
Reservations: First-come, first-served.
Pets: Allowed
More Information

This is a great option for campers looking to enjoy both Valley of Fire State Park and Lake Mead NRA. There are campgrounds in the park. They are close to one another and both can be accessed just off Highway 169 and about 30 minutes from Lake Mead NRA. Valley of Fire is a very popular destination and the campgrounds fill up quickly, so get there early to snag a site.

Each campsite has a shaded picnic table and grill. There are showers, restrooms, water taps, and a dump station on site. Click here to view a map of the park.

A rock formation at Valley of Fire State Park
Valley of Fire State Park.

Free Dispersed Camping Near Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Muddy Mountains Wilderness

This BLM land is adjacent to Lake Mead NRA on its northwest side. Because it is a designated wilderness area, you’ll need to hike at least half a mile from the road in order to camp. One exception to this rule is along the Bitter Springs Backcountry Byway, a rugged unpaved road that runs through the foothills of the Muddy Mountains. Adventure seekers and nature lovers will appreciate the pristine beauty, lack of crowds, and dramatic rock formations that characterize this landscape. Come prepared with plenty of water, and don’t attempt it in the summer heat. Make sure to check out the renowned Bowl of Fire while you’re there.

Mohave Trails National Monument

Located close to the southwestern edge of Lake Mohave, this large BLM monument offers plenty of dispersed desert camping. Balancing Rock is a is a good place to camp if you plan on visiting Lake Mead NRA, as you can get from your campsite to the Katherine Landing Marina in less than an hour. Keep in mind that many of the roads are rugged and sandy and should only be attempted with a 4WD vehicle.

Christmas Tree Pass, Spirit Mountain Wilderness

Christmas Tree Road runs through the Newberry Mountains on the Spirit Mountain Wilderness BLM land, just west of Lake Mohave. There are a handful of good campsites near the top of the pass, although they are only suited for tent campers or small RVs. It is located about 45 minutes from the Katherine Landing Marina on Lake Mohave, and the road is typically passable for all vehicle types. The views are spectacular and the atmosphere is peaceful.

Snowbird Mesa-Poverty Flats

This is a convenient and scenic option near the town of Overton on the northern edge of Lake Mead NRA. The large area can accommodate plenty of campers without feeling too cramped. From the camping area, you can reach Stewart’s Point (Lake Mead) in less than twenty minutes and Valley of Fire State Park in less than 10 minutes. The gravel access road is typically passable for all vehicle types and there is decent cell reception. RV campers can use the free dump station at the Echo Bay Campground.

Footsteps in the sand along the Fisherman's Trail in Lake Mead NRA

Have a great trip!

That’s it!

We hope we’ve provided all of the information you need to plan your Lake Mead National Recreation Area camping trip, and we know you’ll find the perfect campsite for your upcoming adventure! Be sure to let us know in the comments below if you have any questions and be sure to tell us about your trip!