Travel Nevada: Boondocking at Lake Mead

Travel Nevada: Boondocking at Lake Mead

600 500 Kristi Corder

What do you do when you’re in the western U.S., have an RV all set up with solar, batteries, and a generator, and need to be near Las Vegas for a week? You go boondocking at Lake Mead!

Parker University has a chiropractic seminar every year in Las Vegas. This year it was in late February at the Paris Hotel and Casino. I signed up to go so I could get my continuing education credits and show the kids the city with the highest electric bill in the U.S.

After our fun at Disneyland, we had a week before my seminar started and we wanted to get out of the high priced RV parks in California. Brent loves the Lake Mead area and wanted to stay there for the week, so off we went!

Lake Mead Boondocking: Location

Lake Mead is located on the southeast border of Nevada and northwest border of Arizona. It is actually split down the middle by the state lines.

We stayed on the Nevada side at Government Wash. From Henderson, NV, you’d take Lake Mead Pkwy east toward Lake Mead. Once entering Lake Mead National Recreation Area, take a left at Northshore Rd and then a right at Government Wash Rd. As you get to the end of this road, there’s a gate off to the right and you’ll see RVs parked everwhere down this dirt road.

Lake Mead Boondocking: Fees and Campsites

Boondocking at Lake Mead is FREE and camping spots are pretty much unlimited. While there is no fee to camp, you do have to pay to get into the recreation area or show your National Park pass to get in for free.

Roads leading to the camping areas are paved, but the roads in the actual camping areas are bumpy dirt roads. There are no designated campsites, but there are tons of open spaces where you’ll see other RVs have parked.

Obviously, there are no electric, water, or sewer hookups since this is a dry camping area. When we needed to get more water for our fresh tanks, we went a few minutes away to a nearby campground to fill up our water bladder. That camping area also has a place you can dump your tanks if needed. The dump and water filling stations there are free to use.

There is a restroom located just before the entrance gate to the camping areas.

If you’re like us and need to work, we found that the cell signal for both AT&T and Verizon were very good! You’ll have no problem getting online.

Here’s a view of our boondocking spot and the amazing views we had while there.

Lake Mead Boondocking: Things To Do

Besides camping, there are many things to do while spending your time at Lake Mead.


You’re on a lake! Choose one of the many marinas to launch your boat and spend a day out on the beautiful, blue water. Find a marina here.


You can do a bit of fishing at Lake Mead from either your boat or from one of their three fishing piers. While we didn’t do any fishing on this trip, we did see quite a few people fishing from their boats in the area we were staying. You can get information about licenses, types of fish in the lake, and more here.


This was probably our favorite part of our stay at Lake Mead. There is an old historic railroad hiking/biking trail in the area. It is about 7.5 miles round trip and consists of 5 tunnels you can walk through.

They had the fourth and fifth tunnels shut down while we were there, so we hiked to the third tunnel (about 1.5 miles in) and then turned around.

The views on this hike are amazing, so don’t forget your camera!

If you want to check out the other hiking/biking trails, take a look at the maps they’ve provided on the Lake Mead National Recreation website.

Hoover Dam

Visiting Hoover Dam is a must! Our kids were in awe of how huge this dam is. And I think it surprised them that you could drive over it and be in Nevada one second and Arizona the next. You can walk/drive over the dam and check out the visitor’s center for free. Find pricing here if you’d like to take a tour of the dam.

Also, take the time to visit the Mike O’Callaghan – Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge (unless you’re afraid of heights). Here you have a great view of the entire Hoover Dam area.

There are so many camping areas and things to do at Lake Mead that I’m sure we will be returning again. So far it is probably in our top 3 favorite boondocking locations!

Have you been to Lake Mead? What did you do while there? Let us know by leaving a reply below!

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  • 3/15/2022. Your recommendations for boondocking. On the Nevada side of NRA are Government Wash. Rangers will run you off if you camp in an undesignated area.
    I am still looking for reliable resources for AZ.

    • Yes, Government Wash is where we stayed. It’s still a valid area and you CAN boondock there. A permit may be required, though. I cannot help with the AZ side as we have not stayed on that side. However, check Campendium for some suggestions.

  • I’ve always wanted to see hoover dam, mostly because of the movie transformers haha is it really awesome?

    • It’s pretty spectacular. My hubby and I had a great time a few years back actually touring the inside of the dam. You should check it out!

  • I passed through the area on my way to hike Mt. Whitney in California. Clearly I need to go back and spend more time there.

  • Very nice! I love the hiking trail you went on. It looked beautiful and keeps the whole family active.

  • Taci- Life Beyond Zebra August 10, 2019 at 2:24 am

    How fun! I for some reason had no idea lake mead was on the west coast 😂 or what boonedocking was. So I learned a lot here. Lol

  • Looks like a great time! I agree about Hoover dam being a must. I am so excited to take my girls there.

  • I haven’t camped since I was a kid. I would love to take my daughter!

  • I just love the idea of boon docking!! I think it’s neat you can do it right in the parks!

    • You need to get your RV set up for boondocking. Some of our favorite places have been where we’ve boondocked.

  • I love the hike through the tunnels you went on. Hoover Dam is a must, so cool.

  • Boondocking? What a funny word, but thanks to your post, I know what it is, lol! Hoover Dam is great, we enjoyed that site visit too.

  • I’m impressed! Camping sounds challenging enough for me, let alone boondocking! It is a beautiful area to explore though!

    • I was not really on board with it at first, but we’ve experienced some amazing places that we otherwise would not have experienced if we needed hookups.

  • Looking forward to travel out west soon. Thanks for the ideas!

  • It has been a long time since we have visited. I think we drove through when on a road trip.

  • I have fond memories of Lake Mead, although I haven’t visited recently. I have been through Hoover Dam. It’s an interesting tour.

  • Thanks for the great info. This will come in handy when hubby retires in a year and we are on the go with the RV.

  • I would love to do this! Lake Mead looks so cool.

  • Stacey Billingsley August 8, 2019 at 9:47 pm

    Lake Mead looks like a fun place to explore. I haven’t been to Vegas or the surrounding area, so I would really like to check this out. I need to explore the west more. Hoover Dam really is huge! My daughter would be amazed by its size. I’m hoping to go in the next few years!

  • Very cool article and way to link to all your other articles! Boondocking sounds fun! AND fun to say!!

  • Boondocking has always been intimidating to me. My husband is more adventurous that way. But it sounds like Lake Mead is a good option since there are the necessary services (water and a dump station) close by.

    • Absolutely! I wasn’t on board initially, but we’ve seen some really great places when boondocking that we otherwise wouldn’t have. If you can get the set up right, it’s almost as if you have hookups.

  • Sounds like the perfect place for a base camp when visiting Vegas…and it’s free!

  • Love the idea of boondocking! My husband and I are trying to work our way to being able to do more camping.

    • Hi Liz! It’s a process for sure. We’re still making changes to and updating our set up all the time. Good luck on your own adventures!

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