As you would expect, swimming, fishing, water-skiing, sailing, windsurfing, and powerboating are the most popular activities in Lake Mead National Recreation Area. On Arizona shores, there are swimming beaches at Lake Mohave's Katherine Landing (outside Bullhead City) and Lake Mead's Temple Bar (north of Kingman off U.S. 93). Picnic areas can be found at these two areas, as well as at Willow Beach on Lake Mohave and at more than half a dozen spots on the Nevada side of Lake Mead.
Fishing for monster striped bass (up to 50 lb.) is one of the most popular activities on Lake Mead, and while Lake Mohave's striped bass may not reach these awesome proportions, fish in the 25-pound range are not uncommon. Largemouth bass and even rainbow trout are plentiful in the national recreation area's waters due to the diversity of habitats. Try for big rainbows in the cold waters that flow out from Hoover Dam through Black Canyon and into Lake Mohave. To fish from shore, you'll need a license from either Arizona or Nevada (depending on which shore you're fishing from). To fish from a boat, you'll need a license from one state and a special-use stamp from the other. Most Lake Mead marinas sell both licenses and stamps.
The season for striped bass starts around the beginning of April, when the water begins to warm up. If you don't have your own boat, try fishing from the shore of Lake Mohave near Davis Dam, where the water is deep. Anchovy pieces work well as bait, but put some shot on your line to get it down to the depths where the fish are feeding. You can get bait, tackle, licenses, and fishing tips at the Lake Mohave Resort and Marina, 2690 E. Katherine Spur Rd. (tel. 928/754-3245; www.sevencrown.com), at Katherine Landing, which is near Bullhead City.
In Arizona, marinas can be found at Katherine Landing on Lake Mohave (just outside Bullhead City), near the north end of Lake Mohave at Willow Beach (best access for trout angling), and at Temple Bar on Lake Mead. There's also a boat ramp at South Cove, north of the community of Meadview at the east end of Lake Mead. This latter boat ramp is the closest to the Grand Canyon end of Lake Mead. On the Nevada side of Lake Mohave, there's a marina at Cottonwood Cove, and on the Nevada side of Lake Mead, you'll find marinas at Boulder Beach, Las Vegas Bay, Callville Bay, and Echo Bay. These marinas offer motels, restaurants, general stores, campgrounds, and boat rentals. At Temple Bar Resort & Marina (tel. 800/255-5561 or 928/767-3211; www.templebarlakemead.com), you can rent speedboats, fishing boats, and patio boats for $210 to $525 per day and a personal watercraft for $350 per day. At Lake Mohave Resort (tel. 800/752-9669 or 928/754-3245), you can rent ski boats, fishing boats, and patio boats for between $90 and $260 per day and a personal watercraft for $360 per day.
Unlike these other two marinas, Willow Beach Marina, Willow Beach Road (tel. 928/767-4747; www.willowbeachharbor.com), 14 miles south of Hoover Dam (56 miles north of Kingman), is on a free-flowing stretch of the Colorado River downstream from Black Canyon. The river here is bounded by rugged, rocky slopes and canyon walls and is one of the prettiest stretches of the Colorado between Hoover Dam and Yuma. If you want to explore this scenic stretch of river on your own, you can rent a canoe ($15 per hour), kayak ($10 to $20 per hour), or motorboat ($25 to $50 per hour). On Sundays and Mondays throughout the year, motorboats are prohibited on this stretch of the river.
Despite the area's decidedly watery orientation, there's quite a bit of mountainous desert here that's home to bighorn sheep, roadrunners, and other wildlife. This land was also once home to several indigenous tribes, and petroglyphs scratched into rocks are reminders of the people who lived here before the first European settlers arrived. The best place to see petroglyphs is Grapevine Canyon, due west of Laughlin, Nevada, in the southwest corner of the National Recreation Area. To reach Grapevine Canyon, take Nev. 163 west from Laughlin to milepost 13 and turn right on the marked dirt road. From the highway, it's about 2 miles to the turnoff for the parking area. From the trail head, it's less than a quarter-mile to the petroglyph-covered jumble of rocks at the mouth of Grapevine Canyon. Covering the boulders are thousands of cryptic symbols, as well as ancient illustrations of bighorn sheep. To see these petroglyphs, you'll have to do a lot of scrambling, so wear sturdy shoes (preferably hiking boots).
For information on other hikes, contact Lake Mead National Recreation Area (tel. 702/293-8906 or 702/293-8990; www.nps.gov/lame).