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9 Fun Recreational Lakes near Las Vegas, NV

Despite its desert location, Las Vegas has quite a few lakes. Some are full-on recreational reservoirs with boating, kayaking, and camping. And others are urban fishing ponds within city parks.
ItIsWild.com: Lakes near Las Vegas Nevada

Las Vegas has more recreational lakes and reservoirs than most people realize. For example, nation-famous Lake Mead and Lake Mohave are just within an hour’s drive.

Also, you can find urban fishing ponds in the city’s parks that are easily accessible even on weekdays.

And if you’re into paddling and birding, there are a few wildlife refuges north of the city, perfect for photography and nature escapes.

Renting an RV and exploring these lakes is an excellent idea.

Check out what Sin City has to offer!

Lakes near Las Vegas:

  1. Lake Mead
  2. Lake Mohave
  3. Lake Las Vegas
  4. Sunset Park Pond
  5. Twin Lakes
  6. Floyd Lamb Park
  7. Upper Pahranagat Lake
  8. Nesbitt Lake
  9. Lake Havasu

1. Lake Mead

Lake Mead View from Hoover Dam near Las Vegas Nevada
Source: pixabay
  • Official Page: Lake Mead
  • Distance from Las Vegas: 28 miles (40 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Swimming, Sailing, Hiking, Camping, Water Skiing, Wakeboarding, Tubing, Scuba Diving, Mountain Biking

Lake Mead is the nation-famous reservoir on the Colorado River. It can be reached in just 40 minutes from downtown.

At 161,000 acres, it’s one of the largest man-made lakes in the country, and despite the continuous drought and low water levels, it still offers plenty of recreational opportunities.

If you’re visiting for the first time, you’ll probably want to see the incredible Hoover Dam at the southern tip. In summer, the best option to visit is to drive to one of the several overlooks. 

But when it’s not scorching hot, you can take the Historical Railway Trail from Lakeshore Road that will take you across the ridge with stunning overlooks, through abandoned railway tunnels, and right to the dam – it’s the most popular trail near Lake Mead.

And when it comes to recreation, there are no limits at this reservoir. You can enjoy sunbathing and swimming at several beaches, use ramps to launch your own craft or stay at numerous houseboats, campgrounds, and RV parks. Renting an RV and spending a weekend by the water is what this lake is all about.

Also, Lake Mead is a pretty good fishery. You can fish from a shore, fishing piers, or a boat. The strategy will depend on the time of year and the species you’re targeting. Most anglers go for striped bass, largemouth bass, or channel catfish.

If you find it hard to choose the right location, try the official NPS page. It has information on current conditions and lists of available facilities.

Although Lake Mead is the largest and most versatile reservoir near Las Vegas, it never feels crowded. There is plenty of space to get away from it all and enjoy nature.

Related: 12 Fantastic Recreational Lakes near Reno, NV

2. Lake Mohave

Lake Mohave on Colorado River near Las Vegas Nevada
Source: flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Official Page: Lake Mohave
  • Distance from Las Vegas: 54 miles (55 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Swimming, Sailing, Hiking, Camping, Water Skiing, Wakeboarding, Tubing, Scuba Diving

Lake Mohave is a long and narrow reservoir that straddles the Nevada-Arizona border. It’s known for crystal clear water that is chilly even during the hottest months.

Just like Lake Mead, the reservoir is managed by NPS and provides a dozen access points on both sides of the border. 

The nearest access area is Willow Beach Marina on the Arizona side. Thanks to the steep canyon walls that protect from the wind and provide patches of shade, it’s the best paddling destination near Las Vegas. Also, it’s an incredibly scenic area with multiple coves, beach landings, and caves to explore.

Also, Willow Beach is a well-regarded fishing spot. This is where rainbow trout are planted every other Friday, allowing anglers to catch dinner.

Apart from the trout, Lake Mohave is known for its lunkers and holds the state record for striped bass (63 lbs). However, don’t expect much action if it’s your first time fishing this reservoir. It takes time to learn this vast lake, and hiring a guide can be great.

Other water activities include boating, water skiing, jet skiing, wakeboarding, and scuba diving. There are three marinas overall – Cottonwood Cove in Nevada and Willow Beach and Katherine Landing in Arizona. These are the most developed spots, offering campgrounds, cabins, restaurants, and shops.

Although the access areas tend to get busy, there is plenty of space on the lake to escape the crowds. You can easily find secluded beaches and coves and get some quiet time.

Compared to Lake Mead, Lake Mohave offers fewer hiking and biking trails. Yet, the few that it has are pretty remarkable. For example, you can reach Arizona Hot Springs or Gold Strike Hot Spring by starting the hike from the water.

In short, Lake Mohave is the top recreation spot and can keep you exploring for months; just be mindful of the heat.

Related: 17 Incredible Hiking Trails near Reno, NV

3. Lake Las Vegas

Lake Las Vegas in Henderson Nevada Arial View
Source: wikimedia
  • Official Page: Lake Las Vegas
  • Distance from Las Vegas: 18 miles (25 min)
  • Activities: Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Aqua Park

Lake Las Vegas is a 320-acre reservoir in Henderson, just 25 minutes from the Strip. It’s part of a luxury retreat with private condos, resorts, and hotels, making it a unique outdoor destination.

At first glance, it’s an affluent area with restaurants and SPAs, but in fact, the Lake Las Vegas project was born out of the property boom and never took off. Nowadays, most restaurants and shops are closed, and visitors are few.

Still, it can be a fun day out, especially if you are interested in water activities. WS Rentals offer kayaks, paddleboards, pedal and electric boats, and even an event yacht. Plus, you can try flyboards and e-foils – something you won’t find at other lakes.

Also, there are a few walking loops throughout, which are a fun way to explore the area.

Although Lake Las Vegas isn’t as versatile as Lake Mead or Lake Mohave, it’s a unique place yet to reach its full potential. Take it with a pinch of salt.

4. Sunset Park Pond

Sunset Park Pond in Sunset Park Las Vegas Nevada
Source: flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0
  • Official Page: Sunset Park Pond
  • Distance from Las Vegas: 11 miles (20 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Hiking, Jogging, Playgrounds, Sports Fields

Sunset Park Pond is a 14-acre lake in the popular Sunset Park, just 20 minutes from the Strip. It’s a family-friendly destination with plenty of activities and pretty good fishing.

The park offers picnic ramadas, sports fields, a disk golf course, a splash pad, and a few miles of trails for walking and biking. It’s a hugely versatile park that’s buzzing at any time.

Yet, when it comes to water activities, only fishing is allowed. The pond is stocked regularly with rainbow trout, channel catfish, and bluegill, but you can also catch largemouth bass, carp, and sunfish. There is no fishing pier, but shore access is easy, and you can even find a few trees for shade.

Although there isn’t much you can do on the water, Sunrise Park Pond is a trendy place. It’s one of the best fishing spots in the city, and it doesn’t require a long drive.

Related: 12 Fantastic Recreational Lakes near Reno, NV

5. Twin Lakes

Lorenzi Park Entrance with Twin Lakes Las Vegas Nevada
Source: flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Official Page: Twin Lakes
  • Distance from Las Vegas: 3 miles (10 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Hiking, Jogging, Playgrounds, Sports Fields

Twin Lakes are two small ponds in Lorenzi Park, just a few minutes from downtown. It’s another urban destination with lots going on but very few water activities.

Just like Sunset Park Pond, Twin Lakes is a hotspot for local anglers. It’s stocked seasonally with channel catfish, bluegill, and rainbow trout.

And the park itself offers similar facilities to Sunrise Park – sports fields, playgrounds, picnic spots, and footpaths. It’s an excellent family destination with plenty to do.

If you’re into fishing, it’s a nice local spot, but you’ll have to travel to Lake Mead for serious lake recreation.

Related: 17 Incredible Hiking Trails near Reno, NV

6. Floyd Lamb Park

Floyd Lamb Park Pond in Tule Springs Las Vegas Nevada
Source: flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0
  • Official Page: Floyd Lamb Park
  • Distance from Las Vegas: 17 miles (20 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Hiking, Jogging, Playgrounds, Sports Fields, Historic Area

Floyd Lamb Park offers four ponds – Tule Springs, Mulberry Lake, Cottonwood Lake, and Desert Willow Lake. This location is a fantastic compromise between the urban ponds in the city and places like Lake Mead or Mohave.

The park is located on the city’s outskirts, although it’s only 20 minutes from the Strip. This makes it a quiet spot, perfect for escaping the hustle and bustle and enjoying nature at its best.

Here, you can hike and bike on several trails, watch the wildlife, or grill with family and friends. Also, it’s an excellent destination for history buffs. It has a ranch dated back to when the Las Vegas area was first settled, and the whole area has signs of ancient human settlements as old as 11,000 years.

Yet, when it comes to water recreation, only fishing is possible here. Swimming, wading, or boating are not allowed at Floyd Lamb Park.

NDOW stocks the lakes seasonally with channel catfish, rainbow trout, and bluegill, but you can catch largemouth bass and carp here, too.

Overall, it’s a versatile spot with history, fishing, wildlife, and sports activities, but it’s not a traditional recreational lake.

7. Upper Pahranagat Lake

Upper Pahranagat Lake Part of the Pahranagat Wildlife Refuge near Las Vegas Nevada
Source: depositphotos
  • Official Page: Upper Pahranagat Lake
  • Distance from Las Vegas: 93 miles (1h 30min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Kayaking, Canoeing, Hiking, Biking, Camping, Birding, Stargazing

Upper Pahranagat Lake is part of the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge near Alamo. It’s easily accessible from Route 93 and offers free camping and amazing wildlife.

The refuge has a couple of lakes, but Upper Pahranagat Lake is the largest one, with campsites right by the water. There are 15 spots with grills and picnic benches, making it an excellent overnight destination or a stopover on longer journeys.

Fishing is just OK at the lake. There is plenty of undergrowth, so you’re guaranteed to snag a line or two, and the species aren’t as diverse as you may expect. There are just carp, yellow bullhead, and occasional largemouth bass to aim for.

Although swimming or wading are prohibited at the Pahranagat Refuge, you can go kayaking, canoeing, or use boats with electric motors, as long as you can launch without a trailer.

On land, there are miles of trails for hiking and biking, offering wildlife photo opportunities and a chance to stretch the legs during long journeys.

The only drawback is that the refuge is right by the highway, so you can hear cars during the day. But free camping is hard to beat, and if you’re into birding, you’d love it here.

Related: 12 Fantastic Recreational Lakes near Reno, NV

8. Nesbitt Lake

Nesbitt Lake and Refuge near Hiko Nevada
Source: depositphotos
  • Official Page: Nesbitt Lake
  • Distance from Las Vegas: 111 miles (1h 45min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Kayaking, Canoeing, Birding

Nesbitt Lake is a 200-acre reservoir near Hiko, some 111 miles north of Las Vegas. It’s part of the wild refuge and is a largely undeveloped spot, best known for fishing.

Unlike Upper Pahranagat Lake, the reservoir doesn’t offer campgrounds or hiking trails. It’s a rather wild place, making it an ideal destination for anglers who enjoy solitude.

Yet, fishing here is average. The best season to cast is spring. From fall to late winter, the lake is closed for waterfowl hunting, and in summer, the water is thick with water weeds, making fishing difficult.

Another concern is the lack of shore access. There is just one place by the ramp where you can cast off. So, the best way to enjoy fishing on the lake is from a boat (no wake) or a kayak.

The most common catch at Nesbitt Lake is bluegill and yellow bullhead. The largemouth bass is also present but generally harder to get and rarely exceeds a couple of pounds.

Overall, it’s an excellent spot for seasoned adventurers, whether kayakers or anglers. But for everyone else, it’s not the best.

Related: 17 Incredible Hiking Trails near Reno, NV

9. Lake Havasu

Lake Havasu near Lake Havasu City during Boating Show
Source: pixabay
  • Official Page: Lake Havasu
  • Distance from Las Vegas: 151 miles (2h 25min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Swimming, Sailing, Hiking, Camping, Water Skiing, Wakeboarding, Tubing, Scuba Diving

Lake Havasu is another fantastic lake on the Colorado River that straddles the border with Arizona. It’s known for crystal clear water, sandy beaches, fantastic bass fishing, and a mad boating scene.

Although there are access points on the Nevada side, the best place to visit is Lake Havasu State Park which is wedged between the reservoir and Lake Havasu City. 

The park offers all kinds of facilities that you may need. From white sand beaches to boat ramps, rentals, and accommodation, it has it all. And thanks to the city across the road, it’s the most developed lake destination on the list.

Alternatively, you can try SARA Park, which is even more versatile and has access to the lake.

When it comes to water activities, there are no limits here. The reservoir offers fantastic boating, an interesting shoreline for paddling, and a few hiking trails with stunning views over the lake.

Also, Lake Havasu is one of the best fishing spots around. It’s a bass territory with largemouth, smallmouth, and striped varieties that frequently hit double digits.

And to make your stay even more special, you can visit during one of the many events the lake hosts. For example, there are boat parades, RV expos, and nation-famous hot air balloon festivals. The event calendar is here.

The biggest drawback to this destination is the distance from Las Vegas. Still, considering how much this lake offers and how easy it is to find accommodation for any budget, it’s definitely worth the drive.

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