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Can You Swim In Lake Mead in 2023? (8 Must-Know Things)

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Lake Mead is the largest reservoir within the United States, and with the 700 miles of shoreline, it offers ample space for water activities. There are several places where individuals can swim in Lake Mead, but none are designated swim beaches. As no lifeguards are on duty, you swim at your own risk.

By reading this article, individuals would know the dangers surrounding Lake Mead. The rules associated with water activities and the fees charged for access to the lake. Interesting facts, and most importantly, the best places to swim in Lake Mead. 

Swimming In Lake Mead

can you swim in the bright blue water of beautiful lake mead

One of the most popular activities for enjoying the bright blue water is swimming. However, individuals should opt for locations without boat traffic, as there is a swimming restriction in all launch and marina areas, and they should always wear a lifejacket.

Individuals should also note that the distances are deceiving, and most coves are too large to swim across. For most people, as in September 2017, Aaron Hughes survived swimming across the Hoover Dam after a drunken party. He landed himself in the history books, even though there was no official recorded documentation.

Lake Mead Fees

Entrance stations exist to enter Lake Mead. These stations are where you can purchase passes. The passes vary in cost depending on the type of vehicle and duration of stay. The weekly rates range between $15.00 to $25.00, as long as the days are consecutive. 

Places For The Best Swimming & Water Activies in Lake Mead

Lake Mead is full of beautiful scenery, wildlife, and activities for the entire family to enjoy. Each family member will find something about the lake that they love, making it one of the most popular destinations in Nevada.

The fall season is the best time to visit the lake, typically between October and November, relating to weather conditions as the cooler temperatures roll in, the heat of summer leaves, with the water temperature ranging between 70 to 83 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Summer and Spring are the most popular seasons to visit for water activities and recreation.

The best beaches to visit are Boulder Swim Beach, although one of the most popular areas, it is perfect for swimming as it is wide open and the water is relatively shallow. Willow Beach has less hustle and bustle than Boulder Beach, and reduced water traffic. 

Other beautiful beaches include Special Events Beach, Canoe/Kayak Beach, and PWC Beach. 

Water Activities enjoyed along these beaches include boating, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, wakeboarding, paddleboarding, tubing, waterskiing, and jet skiing. You can also enjoy biking, scenic driving, camping, and hiking out of water activities.

Why So Many Deaths At Lake Mead?

The weather conditions around the lake can change in a heartbeat. So to can the water levels, placing the lives of lake goers in peril. Most of the deaths at Lake Mead were avoidable if the individual in the water wore a lifejacket.

In 2017, Lake Mead held the number one position for the deadliest park in the United States, with more than 250 deaths. Below are a few of the deaths that occurred at the lake.

In September 2017, a man got dragged under his houseboat after attempting to secure it from drifting away, according to a news post. [source]

On May 1st, 2021, a six-year-old girl drowned at the lake. Authorities stated that the winds pushed the girl and a friend away from the shore. They were on a pool float. Wardens responded and rescued one of the girls, but the other’s body was discovered later that evening by Police divers. [source]

According to the Park Service, pool toys contributed significantly to the numerous drownings. Many of these toys have warnings that they are not for use in large bodies of water, including lakes. 

There have also been reports of skeletal remains found in the lake. On October 18th, 2014, two reports were taken of lake goers finding skeletal remains at two separate locations along the lake. [source]

Dangerous Creatures Living At Lake Mead

The most dangerous creatures to be found lurking in and around the lake are Mountain Lions, Bobcats, Rattlesnakes, Gila Monsters, and to some extent, mosquitoes.

If you’re worried about all these things then you can try Crater Lake which is also a very beautiful place to enjoy swimming in the USA.

Mountain Lions

These big cats go by other names, such as panthers, pumas, cougars, and yellow cats. They live within the Lake Mead Recreational Park, even though sightings are far and in-between, and the likelihood of being attacked by one is unlikely. 


These cats typically avoid human contact, but if they are hungry, pets become fair game. Try not to attract chipmunks and birds because this would also attract bobcats. If encountered, back away slowly, making lots of noise, do not run as this might trigger the hunting response of the bobcat.

Rattlesnakes & King Snakes

Rattlesnakes are active between April and October and are dangerous because of their venom. If you cross paths with a rattlesnake, give it ample space. The worst thing is to make the snake feel threatened. The King Snake is not venomous, but its bite is painful and could lead to infection. 

Gila Monster

The Gila Monster is a non-aggressive lizard with a very toxic venom. A bite from one of these will lead to respiratory system issues and paralysis. It rarely bites humans, but it could still occur. 


Mosquitoes with the West Nile virus, spotted near Lake Mead, especially during the wet season. Individuals could experience vomiting, nausea, body aches, headaches, fever, and swollen lymph glands from being bitten by these mosquitoes. Severe neurological issues and death could also occur. 

Legend states that there are sharks and alligators in the waters of Lake Mead, but this is just a myth. Although back in 2009, there was a report of a man catching a 3.5 feet long alligator that the authorities believed to be a cast-off pet.

Is The Water Safe To Drink?

The crowded area of Lake Mead, people thinking of drinking water from this lake

This question is vital, as drinking the water can occur while swimming. The Safe Drinking Water Act outlines standards of indicators for water quality, including bromide, temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, clarity, and total organic carbon. These plus other parameters are measured and monitored every week along Lake Mead’s Boulder Basin.

The Colorado River provides Lake Mead with approximately 97 percent of its water, and this river has little contamination from human influence. Meanwhile, Las Vegas Wash takes treated wastewater and storm-water runoff into the lake every day. Even with this, the level of contaminants in Lake Mead does not reach levels of concern. 

Humans are increasingly adding to the contamination issue of the lake due to illegal dumping sites of paint, prescription medication, household appliances, furniture, and toxic chemicals. Each year over 1,000 criminal dumping sites reports reaches the health district.

Why Lake Mead Is Drying UP?

Only an ignorant swimmer thinks “I don’t care about lake, rivers, or natural water resources are drying, I just wanna swim & enjoy water sports with my family; water & food will be there till I die – that’s it! why should I care?”

Michael K. – Outdoor Favor

Lake Mead supplies water to 40 million people across northern Mexico and seven states of the US. The lake is drying up at an unfortunate rate which means less water in some states in 2022 water year.

It’d not be an exaggeration to say that Lake Mead is in extreme condition because as of August 2021, lake mead showed only to be filled with just 35% of its capacity. Lake projections show a 66% chance of water levels will decline to 1025 feet by 2025.

Data shows that Lake Mead can hold 9.3 trillion gallons of water, summers of 1983 & 1999 was the only time when the people witnessed the full capacity (how fortunate they are). What’s the reason, that we are not able to appreciate the fullness after that, even once.

August 7, 2000 – August 9, 2021 (Credit: NASA Earth Observatory )

The most obvious causes that our mind can come to, are evaporation (accounts for 6 feet of water loss every year), lack of rainfall (first reason, if there was enough rain evaporation will be negligible), Increase in population means more water needed for drinking, bathing, agriculture and so on.

Solutions for Lake Mead IMO: Opening a campaign to plant millions or billions for trees surrounding lake mead.

Down to Earth Organisation suggests these three steps to restore any lake:

  1. First, remove all chemicals and solid materials
  2. Second, setting up STP (Sewage Treatment Plant) to remove nutrients and ions from entering the water body.
  3. Third, natural algae ponds or ecosystems were created for the lake to undergo a biophysical and chemical process.

If you’re someone living due to water coming to your home or farm by the Lake Mead then please read this article by Down To Earth; fully packed with practical tips that I’m sure will help at least a bit to protect the Lake Mead’s future. Only one percent help can change everything.

What Is Interesting Under The Lake?

Lake Mead offers a variety of depths but reaches 532 feet at its deepest. Several submerged spots emphasize the lake as one of the best freshwater lakes globally, especially for scuba diving.

Exploring these submerged sites requires the divers to have an open water scuba certification. 

Believe it or not, a town lies under Lake Mead. During the 1930s, the city of St. Thomas in Nevada got flooded during the filling of the lake. Due to droughts, visitors have the opportunity of seeing the city as water levels have reduced.  

Fort Callville, once a Mormon settlement, lies 400 feet under the lake after the construction of the Hoover Dam. 

Related: Swimming In The Great Salt Lake?

Arieal view of the hoover dam of Lake Mead
Hoover Dam (Lake Mead)

A B-29 Superfortress aircraft crashed into the lake in July 1948, and to this day, it lies sunken for commercial divers to explore. 

There is also an Aggregate Plant, once used to provide all the gravel and sand for the Hoover Dam, and a Navy PBY Catalina flying boat, which crashed into the lake in October 1949.

Are Pets Allowed In Lake Mead – What Are The Rules?

Lake Mead welcomes pets, but not on every beach, and there are a few rules and safety guidelines to consider.

  • Pets are only allowed in the water under supervision.
  • Maintain the dog on a leash
  • Walk with bags for clean up and water
  • Know Where You Can Go

All pets, even exotic ones, are allowed as long as legal within Nevada. Some of the legal, more exotic pets include zebras, ostriches, wolves, camels, and elephants. Primates and non-domesticated cats are also allowed without a license or permit. 

Other rules to follow while swimming at Lake Mead include: 

  • No glass bottles
  • No Styrofoam
  • No Use of Marijuana
  • Charcoal & Gas BBQ Grills only
  • No Campfires
  • No Littering, Keep Trash off Beach

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