Best Lake Mead ATV Trails
Lake Mead in Las Vegas is not only ideal for renting a jet ski and spending a day out on the water, but you can also take one of the state’s highest-grade all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) out for a spin on one of the many trails. Not sure where to go, or which trail might be the best for you and your family? Here’s a breakdown of Lake Mead’s best ATV trails!
What is the Lake Mead National Recreation Area?
The Lake Mead National Recreation Area is an officially-sanctioned area that the National Park Service has set aside. This protected area was created to preserve the wildlife, natural resources, and vegetation, and to allow visitors to enjoy this beautiful preserve in as natural a state as possible.
The Lake Mead National Recreation Area features a multitude of roads and trails that provide visitors access to Lake Mead, hiking trails, and more. If you visit, be sure to stay on marked roads or trails only and not to wander off! It’s imperative that all visitors to Lake Mead respect the area by carrying off their litter instead of living it behind, as well as being courteous to other visitors. All ATVs and other off-road vehicles must be owned legally and only operated by people with a valid operator’s license.
The Nellis Dunes are an open-access ATV trail located just off of the highway. Also sometimes referred to as the Apex or simply the Las Vegas Dunes, the Nellis Dunes trail is not as sandy and loose as you might think, with most of the trails made up of dry packed dirt. The terrain isn’t very tough to navigate, so the Nellis Dunes remains a favorite for beginners and family day trips, although there are plenty of opportunities to take jumps if you’re ready for it!
It should be noted that this particular ATV trail has virtually no shade and no services along the way, so bring plenty of sunscreen, snacks, and water. Several other trails intersect these dunes – most of which, as stated above, are more like regular hills than big piles of sand. There are currently plans in the works to expand this trail area, due to its massive popularity with riders of all skill levels (which contribute to crowding on the trail during weekends and holiday seasons, so plan accordingly). Another huge bonus is that this ATV trail is located a short ways away from Lake Mead, so you can cool off after you work up a sweat riding!
Boathouse Cove Road
Boathouse Cove Road is a lesser-known trail that lies to the east of Las Vegas. This trail stretches from the North Shore Drive right to the shore of Lake Mead. This is a very family-friendly and beginner-friendly trail, with only one river rush and other vast expanses of mostly flat terrain. Remember, as always, that temperatures in Las Vegas can get dangerously hot, so be sure to pack eye protection, skin protection, and especially water! While Boathouse Cove Road is an easy trail, that’s no reason not to exercise caution and common sense. Boathouse Cove Road located right in between two stretches of wilderness, so you’re pretty much on your own while you’re on the trail.
This intermediate-level trail goes by a series of other names: Western Road, Keyhole Canyon, Mojave Trail, Oak Creek Canyon, and probably even more. Located in the heart of the Mojave Desert, this trail has a varied landscape for you to explore. With a series of different rock formations, canyons, river washes, and thrilling upward climbs, you can choose whether you want to take on one of the more technical branches of the trail or enjoy something a bit less challenging. The first mile of the trail from the main entrance runs through some privately-owned property, so be sure to be extra careful (although you should always be respectful of all the trails you encounter).
Additionally, the Nelson Hills trail by Lake Mead has no visitor services or shade, so you’ll need to dress and pack accordingly!
Bitter Springs Trail
The Bitter Springs Trail is one of the longer trails by Lake Mead. One of the more remote trails in Las Vegas, the Bitter Springs Trail crosses the Muddy Mountains, stretching from the Valley of Fire Road down to North Shore Road. This is an intermediate-level trail, with some climbs and ruts, but overall the terrain isn’t overly technical or challenging. The Bitter Springs Trail also brings visitors close to Buffington Pockets, about 6 miles along the western side. The west side is known to be slightly more difficult, with rocky washes and some climbs. The east side, however, contains a lot more sand and is thought to be less technically challenging. The Bitter Springs Trail features all different kinds of natural beauty, such as interesting rock formations, rock quarries, canyons, and of course, the vast expanse of the desert.