Water in the Desert

20180103_112924.jpgWhat a great week of camping we’ve had. It seems wrong that anyone could visit the Las Vegas area without making a trip to check out Hoover Dam. And for us, that means camping at Boulder Beach Campground, near Boulder City.  A view of Lake Mead, a bike path that eventually goes directly to Hoover Dam, and (generally) peaceful rustic camping make this a great spot to hole up for a few days.20180103_102104.jpgHoover Dam is a real international tourist attraction – at least half of the folks there were non-English speakers. All come to gape at the marvel of the Dam, which is more than 80 years old. It’s hard to believe that this was all engineered and constructed in the pre-computer era. This photo taken from the Tillman Bridge (shown in the shadow).20180103_1323201509468320.jpg20180103_121124.jpgA construction model in the Visitor Center shows how it’s made of enormous concrete blocks. 20180103_124043.jpgAt the base, it’s 660 feet thick, tapering to just 45 feet at the top, which is 726 feet high. More than 3.25 million cubic yards of concrete, made onsite, were used in its construction. And perhaps, most astonishing, it was completed under budget and two years ahead of schedule. It’s an absolute marvel of engineering. As you walk across thee top, you actually cross from Pacific Time into Mountain Time. Two states!

One of the things we really love about this site though, is the bike ride from the campground into the Dam, via the bike trail that connects to the Historic Railroad Trail. 20180103_140747.jpgBuilt in the 1930s, it features six gigantic tunnels, blasted through solid rock, used by the trains which carried supplies and equipment to the massive construction site. Although the tracks have long been removed, the tunnels are just rough rock sides (although one has been reinforced with timber, as shown in the above photo). 20180103_112924.jpgIt gradually climbs, winding around great views of Lake Mead, until it deposits us near the top of the parking garage, where a couple of bike racks are conveniently located. Uphill all the way to the dam, and a wonderful downhill ride all the way home. It doesn’t get any better than this. Experiences like this are what keep us on the road. We love being able to cycle our way around new places and see sights that just are nothing like Michigan. It’s a big country, and we haven’t even begun yet to scratch the surface of all the spots we’d like to see.

The Lake Mead Recreation Area is dotted with marinas and campgrounds on the western shore. Since we enjoyed Calllville Bay and Boulder Beach so much, we decided to try Cottonwood Cove, a new one (to us) farther south on Lake Mojave. Want solitude? This is your place!20180105_072216.jpg img_1065Two loops have about 120+ campsites, but only three were occupied. The marina was quiet, the Lake itself was deserted, with the exception of one kayak.20180105_202111.jpg There wasn’t a sound at night, other than the guy across the campground, playing some of my favorite 60s songs on his guitar and harmonica (Ghost Riders and The Boxer were two of my favorites).  Although it seems that this campground would be an inferno in the summer heat, it was the perfect stop for us in early January. It’s 15 miles from anywhere (uphill all the way to the town of Searchlight), so we just wandered around a bit on foot, cooked great food, and buried our noses in good books. I feel a bit guilty sometimes about being so lazy, but then I figure “So what? I’m old. This is what that’s all about.” I’m actually getting pretty good at doing absolutely nothing for a day or two at a time.

But, civilization calls. We have no more coffee, and no clean clothes. It’s time to move on. So, we booked six nights of camping at Lake Havasu State Park, where we have electric/water onsite, brewpubs and restaurants, and WiFi at the laundromat (guess where I am?) Going from one of the quietest campgrounds we’ve ever visited to Lake Havasu is shocking. It’s like being camped at a dragstrip, with the highway nearby. And, there are many huge powerboats on the Lake, each roaring by full-throttle. Today is Sunday, and there’s an exodous out of the campground. We’re hoping for a quiet day or two before it fills up again.

Feast or famine, I guess.


9 thoughts on “Water in the Desert

  1. I hope to retrace your steps someday, other than the Lake Havasu State Park, as I’ve heard that it’s the party Mecca of the southwest.

    Thinking about the solitude that you enjoyed early on in this post, I was thinking that if I were to find such a spot, I may forget all about personal hygiene and doing laundry and become a true hermit. You made it sound so good to be able to do what you wanted when you wanted, and not have to worry about anything.


    • Hi Jerry. I think the California side of Lake Havasu is where all the partying is going on. We’re on the AZ side, which is mostly full of geezers. There were few boats on the Lake yesterday, and I think today will be pretty quiet. Even though the campground is full again, it’s quiet. Most of the rigs are big, and their inhabitants sit inside with TV, instead of coming out. Better for us that way, I guess.

      Have to laugh at your thoughts on solitude. Us moving away from the quiet of Lake Mead was more driven by our being out of coffee than clean clothes. Yes, I could easily be one of the unwashed, drinking coffee. We all have our priorities.

      We’re going to go back and try a hike into a slot canyon today that we had to abort a few years ago. We had been hiking with Jezzy, and just couldn’t get her up and down some of the narrow spots. So today, she stays home, and John and I will try to squeeze our own fat butts into a few narrow places. Should be fun.

      Take care. Hope the cold hand of winter is easing its icy fingers on Michigan for awhile.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. In 2010 I camped at Boulder Beach Campground! and hiked the rails to trails path you rode on bicycles to the dam. But how did you take a foto from Tilman Bridge? When I drove across the bridge I could not see water, canyon, dam — could only see high concrete walls of the bridge. Did you maybe stop just off the end of the bridge to take the picture?



    • There is a pedestrian walkway on the north side of the bridge. It’s packed with people taking photos and is a great spot for getting an aerial view of the Dam. There are two access parking lots, or you can wander over from the big parking garage by the Visitor Center.


  3. Hey, guess who else is in Lake Havasu? Me! We’re camping at our friends house at the south end of town. Tuesday we take our 5th wheel into the shop and later in the afternoon we’ll pull into the State Park in site 10. Happy Hour???


  4. More wonders of our world! You would make a wonderful tour guide, Judy. Keep your stories coming so I can live vicariously through you. LOL


    • I make a good tour guide until you ask me a question about something that I may not have taken a photo of for reference. Hope the cold is finally easing up for you. We’re enjoying nice temps here – nothing to make us sweat.


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