Lake Mead visitation has been strong for the first six months of 2013.
From January to June, visitation to the Lake Mead National Recreation Area increased 6.09 percent over the same months in 2012, the National Park Service said Friday.
The park attracted 873,323 visitors in June, and a total of 3.38 million for the first six months of 2013. In 2012, 780,351 people visited the park in June and 3.18 million visited from January through June.
“We’ve had a nice busy summer,” said Lake Mead’s public information officer, Christie Vanover.
The area within the National Recreation Area with the largest increase — 105 percent — was Katherine Landing on Lake Mohave, which has attracted almost 600,000 visitors.
“We’re going to look a little more and see why visitation has spiked so much there,” Vanover said.
The busiest area at Lake Mead thus far in 2013 is Hemenway Harbor, with more than 325,000 visitors. Boulder Harbor, Callville Bay and Willow Beach each have attracted more than 100,000 visitors so far this year.
About 240,000 visitors spent their Fourth of July holiday weekend at the park, and another 225,000 visited over Memorial Day weekend.
People come to Lake Mead for a variety of reasons, including boating, camping and public events. A number of boat dealers and storage facilities are in the recreation area.
At Lake Mead Boat Storage, occupancy rates have been steady in recent years after a slight decrease during the recession. During that time some customers were able to move their boats to new homes with extra storage, said office manager Christie Jo Morris.
“We lost a few customers that way, but people still really enjoy our lake,” she said.
In the summer the storage facility attracts mostly boat owners, but since the recession it has seen an increase in motor homes. The fall and winter months will attract the fishermen who regularly frequent the Lake Mead area.
The lake and its associated buildings likely will benefit from a nationwide upturn in boat sales.
Nationwide retail sales of new power and sailboats increased 10.7 percent in 2012, to 163,245, showing a post-recession recovery for the industry, according to a survey from the National Marine Manufacturers Association. Recreational boating in the U.S. has an annual economic value of $121 billion, supporting 964,000 American jobs and 34,833 businesses, driving $83 billion in annual spending.
The association said new powerboat sales have remained steady for the first half of 2013 and continued growth is expected at a rate of 5 percent for the year.
“Summer is a peak selling season for recreational boats, accessories and services throughout the U.S. as people look for ways to disconnect from the daily grind and enjoy fun times on the water,” association president Thom Dammrich, said.
Of the estimated 232.3 million adults in the U.S. in 2012, 37.8 percent, or 88 million, participated in recreational boating at least once during the year, a 6 percent increase from 2011 and the largest number of U.S. adults participating in boating since the association began collecting data in 1990.
Contact reporter Laura Carroll at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-4588. Follow @lscvegas on Twitter.