Lake Mead: Wikis

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Lake Mead
Location Clark County, Nevada / Mohave County, Arizona
Coordinates 36°03′35″N 114°46′35″W / 36.05972°N 114.77639°W / 36.05972; -114.77639Coordinates: 36°03′35″N 114°46′35″W / 36.05972°N 114.77639°W / 36.05972; -114.77639
Lake type reservoir
Primary inflows Colorado River
Primary outflows Colorado River
Basin countries United States
Max. length 110 mi (180 km)
Surface area 247 sq mi (640 km2)
Max. depth 500 ft (165 m)
Water volume 35.2 km3 (28,500,000 acre·ft)[1]
Shore length1 550 mi (885 km)
1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.

Lake Mead is the largest reservoir in the United States. It is located on the Colorado River about 30 miles (48 km) southeast of Las Vegas, Nevada, in the states of Nevada and Arizona. Formed by water impounded by the Hoover Dam, it extends 112 miles (180 km) behind the dam, holding approximately 28.5 million acre feet (35 km³) of water.

Contents

History

Elwood Mead

The lake was named after Elwood Mead, who was the commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation from 1924 to 1936 during the planning and construction of the Boulder Canyon Project that created the dam and lake. Lake Mead was established as the Boulder Dam Recreation Area in 1936, administrated by the National Park Service. It was then changed to the Lake Mead National Recreation Area in 1964, this time including Lake Mohave and the Shivwits Plateau under its jurisdiction. Both lakes and the surrounding area offer year-round recreation options. The accumulated water from Hoover Dam forced the evacuation of several communities, most notably St. Thomas, Nevada, whose last resident left the town in 1938.[2] The ruins of St. Thomas are sometimes visible when the water level in Lake Mead drops below normal.[2]

At lower water levels, a high-water mark or "bathtub ring" is visible in photos that show the shoreline of Lake Mead. The bathtub ring is white because of the deposition of minerals on previously submerged surfaces.[3]

Geography

Lake Mead, May 2, 2006
Lake Mead from space, November 1985. North is facing downward to the right. The Colorado River can be seen leading southward away from the lake on the top left. The Hoover Dam is located where the river meets the lake.

There are nine main access points to the lake. On the west are 3 roads from the Las Vegas metropolitan area. Access from the northwest from Interstate 15 is through Valley of Fire State Park and the Moapa River Indian Reservation to the Overton arm of the lake.

The lake is divided into several bodies. The large body closest to the Hoover Dam is Boulder Basin. The narrow channel, which was once known as Boulder Canyon and is now known as The Narrows, connects Boulder Basin to Virgin Basin to the east. The Virgin River and Muddy River empty into the Overton Arm, which is connected to the northern part of the Virgin Basin. The next basin to the east is Temple Basin, and following that is Gregg Basin, which is connected to the Temple Basin by the Virgin Canyon. When the lake levels are high enough, a section of the lake farther upstream from the Gregg Basin is flooded, which includes Grand Wash Bay and the Pearce Ferry Bay and launch ramp. In addition, there are two tiny basins, the Muddy River Inlet and the Virgin River Basin, that are flooded when the lake is high enough where these two rivers flow into the lake. As of now, however, these basins remain dry.

Jagged mountain ranges surround the lake, offering somewhat of a startling but beautiful backdrop, especially at sunset. There are two mountain ranges within view of the Boulder Basin, the River Mountains, oriented north-west to south-east and the Muddy Mountains, oriented west to north-east. From the Virgin Basin, you can view the majestic Bonelli Peak towards the east.

Las Vegas Bay is the terminus for the Las Vegas Wash which is the sole outflow from the Las Vegas Valley.

Drought

Lake Mead as seen from the Hoover Dam clearly showing the "bathtub ring"

Lake Mead has had three periods occurrences of the water level falling below the drought level (below 1125).[4] From 1953 to 1956, the water level fell from 1200 feet to 1085 feet. From 1963 to 1965, the water level fell from 1205 feet to 1090 feet. Since 2000 through 2008, the water level has dropped from 1215 to 1095. In 2009 the water level rose slightly.

As of May 2009, the lake is currently at 43 percent of its capacity, threatening to make the Las Vegas valley's primary raw water intake inoperable. If the lake doesn't receive enough inflow this spring, problems may arise later this summer.[5] Arrangements are underway to pipe water from elsewhere in Nevada by 2011, but since the primary raw water intake at Lake Mead could become inoperable as soon as 2010 based on current drought and user projections, Las Vegas could suffer crippling water shortages in the interim.[5] Lake Mead draws a majority of its water from snow melt in the Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah Rocky Mountains. Since 2000 the water level has been dropping at a fairly steady rate due to less than average snowfall. As a result, marinas and boat launch ramps have either needed to be moved to another part of the lake or have closed down completely. The Las Vegas Bay Marina and the Lake Mead Marinas were relocated a few years ago to Hemenway Harbor. Overton Marina has been closed due to low levels in the northern part of the Overton Arm. Government Wash, Las Vegas Bay, and Pearce Ferry boat launch ramps have also been closed. The marinas that remain open include Las Vegas Boat Harbor and Lake Mead Marina all sharing Hemenway Harbor/Horsepower Cove, Callville Bay Marina, Echo Bay Marina, and Temple Bar Marina, along with the Boulder Launch Area (former location of the Lake Mead Marina) and the South Cove launch ramp.[6]

Further research in February 2008 by the University of California in San Diego led researchers to conclude that, if future climate changes as projected and water use "is not curtailed," Lake Mead's water level could drop below the dead storage elevation by 2021, and that the reservoir could drop below minimum power pool elevation as early as 2017.[7]

Recreation

Lake Mead Marina, a place to rent or fuel boats. Note, the marina has been moved to Hemenway Harbor due to low water levels.

Lake Mead offers many types of recreation to locals and visitors. Boating is the most popular. Additional activities include fishing, water skiing, swimming and sunbathing. There are several marinas on the lake that rent luxury houseboats: Forever Resorts at Calleville Bay and Echo Bay; and Las Vegas Boat Harbor in Hemenway Harbor. With other smaller ones that rent small boats. The area also has many coves with rocky cliffs and sandy beaches to explore. There are several small to medium-sized islands in the lake area depending on the water level. In addition, the Alan Bible Visitor Center has a small cactus garden of plants native to the Mojave Desert.

B-29 Crash

At the bottom of the lake is a B-29 Superfortress that crashed while performing secret experiments. It has been acknowledged that one of the then classified instruments on board used to take atmosphere measurements was called "Suntracker".[8]

See also

References

  1. ^ Bureau of Reclamation Lake Mead FAQ
  2. ^ a b Scott Gold (2004-10-16). "It's a Historic Drought". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times. http://articles.latimes.com/2004/oct/16/nation/na-reappear16. Retrieved 2009-08-26. 
  3. ^ Bryan Walsh (2008-12-04). "Dying for a Drink". Time. Time Inc.. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1864440,00.html?imw=Y. Retrieved 2009-08-26. 
  4. ^ http://www.arachnoid.com/NaturalResources/
  5. ^ a b Tony Illia (2007). "Rural groundwater pipeline project presses ahead". Las Vegas Business Press. http://www.lvbusinesspress.com/articles/2007/10/05/news/iq_17073782.txt. Retrieved 2007-10-07. 
  6. ^ National Park Service
  7. ^ Barnett TP, and Pierce DW (2008). "When Will Lake Mead go Dry?". Water Resources Research 44: W03201. doi:10.1029/2007WR006704. http://www.agu.org/sci_soc/prrl/2008-06.html. 
  8. ^ "Lake Mead: Exploring the B-29". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 2007. http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/maritime/expeditions/b29.html. Retrieved 2007-12-01. 

External links

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Lake Mead
Location Mohave County, Arizona /Clark County, Nevada
Coordinates 36°03′35″N 114°46′35″W / 36.05972°N 114.77639°W / 36.05972; -114.77639Coordinates: 36°03′35″N 114°46′35″W / 36.05972°N 114.77639°W / 36.05972; -114.77639
Lake type reservoir
Primary inflows Colorado River
Primary outflows Colorado River
Basin countries United States
Max. length 112 mi (180 km)
Surface area 247 sq mi (640 km2)
Max. depth 500 ft (150 m)
Water volume 35.2 km3 (28,500,000 acre·ft)[1]
Shore length1 550 mi (890 km)
1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.

Lake Mead is the largest reservoir in the United States. It is located on the Colorado River about 30 mi (48 km) southeast of Las Vegas, Nevada, in the states of Nevada and Arizona. Formed by water impounded by the Hoover Dam, it extends 112 miles (180 km) behind the dam, holding approximately 28.5 million acre feet (or 9.28 trillion gallons) (35 km³) of water.[1]

Contents

History

The lake was named after Elwood Mead, who was the commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation from 1924 to 1936 during the planning and construction of the Boulder Canyon Project that created the dam and lake. Lake Mead was established as the Boulder Dam Recreation Area in 1936, administrated by the National Park Service. It was then changed to the Lake Mead National Recreation Area in 1964, this time including Lake Mohave and the Shivwits Plateau under its jurisdiction. Both lakes and the surrounding area offer year-round recreation options. The accumulated water from Hoover Dam forced the evacuation of several communities, most notably St. Thomas, Nevada, whose last resident left the town in 1938.[2] The ruins of St. Thomas are sometimes visible when the water level in Lake Mead drops below normal.[2]

At lower water levels, a high-water mark or "bathtub ring" is visible in photos that show the shoreline of Lake Mead. The bathtub ring is white because of the deposition of minerals on previously submerged surfaces.[3]

Geography

is located where the river meets the lake.]]

There are nine main access points to the lake. On the west are three roads from the Las Vegas metropolitan area. Access from the northwest from Interstate 15 is through Valley of Fire State Park and the Moapa River Indian Reservation to the Overton arm of the lake.

The lake is divided into several bodies. The large body closest to the Hoover Dam is Boulder Basin. The narrow channel, which was once known as Boulder Canyon and is now known as The Narrows, connects Boulder Basin to Virgin Basin to the east. The Virgin River and Muddy River empty into the Overton Arm, which is connected to the northern part of the Virgin Basin. The next basin to the east is Temple Basin, and following that is Gregg Basin, which is connected to the Temple Basin by the Virgin Canyon. When the lake levels are high enough, a section of the lake farther upstream from the Gregg Basin is flooded, which includes Grand Wash Bay and the Pearce Ferry Bay and launch ramp. In addition, there are two tiny basins, the Muddy River Inlet and the Virgin River Basin, that are flooded when the lake is high enough where these two rivers flow into the lake. As of now, however, these basins remain dry.

Jagged mountain ranges surround the lake, offering somewhat of a startling but beautiful backdrop, especially at sunset. There are two mountain ranges within view of the Boulder Basin, the River Mountains, oriented north-west to south-east and the Muddy Mountains, oriented west to north-east. From the Virgin Basin, you can view the majestic Bonelli Peak towards the east.

Las Vegas Bay is the terminus for the Las Vegas Wash which is the sole outflow from the Las Vegas Valley.

Drought and water usage issues

clearly showing the "bathtub ring"]]

Lake Mead's water level has three times fallen below the drought level (1125 feet above sea level).[4] From 1953 to 1956, the water level fell from 1200 feet to 1085 feet. From 1963 to 1965, the water level fell from 1205 feet to 1090 feet. Since 2000 through 2008, the water level has dropped from 1215 to 1095. In 2009 the water level rose slightly, but only due to cool winter temperature and rainfall.

As of June 2010, the lake is currently at 39 percent of its capacity,[5] threatening to make the Las Vegas valley's primary raw water intake inoperable. If the lake doesn't receive enough inflow this spring, problems may arise later this summer.[6] Arrangements are underway to pipe water from elsewhere in Nevada by 2011, but since the primary raw water intake at Lake Mead could become inoperable as soon as 2010 based on current drought and user projections, Las Vegas could suffer crippling water shortages in the interim.[6] Lake Mead draws a majority of its water from snow melt in the Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah Rocky Mountains. Since 2000 the water level has been dropping at a fairly steady rate due to less than average snowfall. As a result, marinas and boat launch ramps have either needed to be moved to another part of the lake or have closed down completely. The Las Vegas Bay Marina and the Lake Mead Marinas were relocated a few years ago to Hemenway Harbor. Overton Marina has been closed due to low levels in the northern part of the Overton Arm. Government Wash, Las Vegas Bay, and Pearce Ferry boat launch ramps have also been closed. The marinas that remain open include Las Vegas Boat Harbor and Lake Mead Marina all sharing Hemenway Harbor/Horsepower Cove, Callville Bay Marina, Echo Bay Marina, and Temple Bar Marina, along with the Boulder Launch Area (former location of the Lake Mead Marina) and the South Cove launch ramp.[7]

Changing rainfall patterns, natural climate variability, high levels of evaporation, reduced snow melt runoff, and current water use patterns are putting pressure on water management resources at Lake Mead as the population depending on it for water and the Hoover Dam for electricity booms. A 2008 paper in Water Resources Research states that at current usage allocation and projected climate trends, there is a 50% chance that live storage in lakes Mead and Powell will be gone by 2021, and that the reservoir could drop below minimum power pool elevation of 1,050 feet (320 m) as early as 2017.[8][9][10] However, Terry Fulp, manager of the federal bureau office for the lower Colorado, disagreed with the paper, saying that global climate models were not sensitive or refined enough to forecast such effects.

Recreation and marinas

Lake Mead offers many types of recreation to locals and visitors. Boating is the most popular. Additional activities include fishing, water skiing, swimming and sunbathing. There are five marinas on the lake: Forever Resorts at Callville Bay, Echo Bay, and Temple Bar Marina; and Las Vegas Boat Harbor along with Lake Mead Marina in Hemenway Harbor which are family owned and operated.[11] The area also has many coves with rocky cliffs and sandy beaches to explore. There are several small to medium-sized islands in the lake area depending on the water level. In addition, the Alan Bible Visitor Center has a small cactus garden of plants native to the Mojave Desert.

B-29 crash

At the bottom of the lake is a B-29 Superfortress that crashed in 1948 while testing a prototype missile guidance system known as "suntracker".[12]

The wreckage of at least two smaller planes are also within Lake Mead.[13]

See also

United States portal

References

  1. ^ a b http://www.usbr.gov/lc/hooverdam/faqs/lakefaqs.html Bureau of Reclamation Lake Mead FAQ]
  2. ^ a b Scott Gold (2004-10-16). "It's a Historic Drought". Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles Times). http://articles.latimes.com/2004/oct/16/nation/na-reappear16. Retrieved 2009-08-26. 
  3. ^ Bryan Walsh (2008-12-04). "Dying for a Drink". Time (Time Inc.). http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1864440,00.html?imw=Y. Retrieved 2009-08-26. 
  4. ^ http://www.arachnoid.com/NaturalResources/
  5. ^ Arizona Game and Fish Department (2010). "Lake Levels/River Flow". Arizona Game and Fish Department. http://www.azgfd.gov/h_f/edits/lake_levels.shtml. Retrieved 2010-06-26. 
  6. ^ a b Tony Illia (2007). "Rural groundwater pipeline project presses ahead". Las Vegas Business Press. http://www.lvbusinesspress.com/articles/2007/10/05/news/iq_17073782.txt. Retrieved 2007-10-07. 
  7. ^ National Park Service
  8. ^ Barnett TP, and Pierce DW (2008). "When Will Lake Mead go Dry?" ([dead link]). Water Resources Research 44: W03201. doi:10.1029/2007WR006704. http://www.agu.org/sci_soc/prrl/2008-06.html. 
  9. ^ "Lake Mead could be dry by 2021," press release from the American Geophysical Union
  10. ^ Barringer, Felicity (2008-02-13). "Lake Mead Could Be Within a Few Years of Going Dry, Study Finds". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/13/us/13mead.html?_r=2. 
  11. ^ http://www.LakeMeadOnline.com
  12. ^ "Lake Mead: Exploring the B-29". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 2007. http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/maritime/expeditions/b29.html. Retrieved 2007-12-01. 
  13. ^ http://www.8newsnow.com/Global/story.asp?S=416135

External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Lake Mead National Recreation Area article)

From Wikitravel

North America : United States of America : Southwest : Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Lake Mead seen from Highway 93
Lake Mead seen from Highway 93

Lake Mead National Recreation Area [1] is a United States National Recreation Area the is located in southern Nevada and along the northern border of Arizona.

Understand

History

Lake Mead NRA contains two large lakes, Lakes Mead and Lake Mohave, which are reservoirs created by the Hoover and Davis Dams. About 96 percent of the water in Lake Mead is from melted snow that fell in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Wyoming. Lake Mead extends for 110 miles behind the Hoover Dam (completed in 1936), while Lake Mohave extends for 67 miles behind the Davis Dam (completed in 1951).

Climate

One of the many aspects of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area that continually draws visitors is its good weather. Many people come just to relax in the land of the sun. Refugees from states hit hard by winter's icy clutch often flee to this area to spend a mild winter. Sunbathers and water skiers spend summers here to toast in the 110 °F plus temperatures. The area generally has less than five inches of annual rainfall. Water temperatures may range from 45 °F to 85 °F at different times of the year.

Get in

By plane

Lake Mead NRA is approximately 25 miles from McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. Other communities bordering and near Lake Mead NRA have smaller airports.

By car

There are nine paved accesses into Lake Mead NRA.

By public transportation

There is no public transportation serving the park, although tour buses operate from many Las Vegas resorts and attractions.

Fees/Permits

Fees for individuals entering the park are $3, good for five days. Fees for vehicles (including all passengers) are $5, also good for five days. An annual pass is available for $20 that allows free entrance for one calander year, and the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass is available for $80, allowing free entry to all National Park, Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Reclamation areas for one year from the month purchased.

Get around

Paved roads lead to all major sites. There are many approved backcountry roads.

Do

Kayak the Colorado River from Willow Beach. Nice hiking, hot springs, and camping. The river is closed to motorized boats on Sundays and Mondays, but expect to find a few motorboats ignoring this rule.

  • To Paddle the Colorado River or Lake Mead contact Desert Adventures, 1647A Nevada Highway, Boulder City, Nevada 89005 702-293-5026 [2]
  • Swim or Picknick at the Beaches

Sleep

Camping is the best thing you can do.

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