Temple Bar in Lake Mead National Recreation Area makes a superb winter getaway for a day or several days of camping, boating, fishing, exploring the area’s back roads and enjoying the night skies. Visitors will find solitude here, both at the campground and out on the water.
The full-service marina rents a variety of watercraft, including kayaks, fishing boats and ski boats. If you rent a boat, head out on Lake Mead’s smooth waters and check out the many coves along the shoreline. The marina also has a store with basic supplies, motel rooms, gas pumps and a restaurant.
It’s best to call (Temple Bar Marina, 928-767-3211) before you set out to check on availability of watercraft and hours at the restaurant and store. Also, download a map of the Temple Bar area, including the lake and approved backcountry roads. nps.gov/lake templebarlakemead.com
What to pack: Food, warm clothes and supplies for camping and boating. Firewood and lawn chairs if you plan to camp.
Length of stay: One day to several nights.
Temple Bar campground: The area is named for a massive rock formation that resembles a striking building or temple. The campground here is definitely the best in Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Each site has a fire pit and a picnic table, plus there are clean restrooms and potable water. Abundant vegetation includes mostly nonnative species: oleander, fan palms, Mediterranean olive and eucalyptus, which add privacy and shade. But don’t use the oleander twigs as skewers to roast food; they’re poisonous. Come nightfall, grab your blanket or lawn chair and climb one of the small hills here, for some of the best stargazing anywhere around Southern Nevada. Look for the winter constellations: Orion is the most famous, but its neighbors include Canis Major, Gemini, Taurus, Perseus, Eridanus and Cetus.
You should know: Depending on your cellphone carrier, service is pretty much nonexistent, except in a few areas along the access road to Temple Bar. At an elevation of about 1,235 feet, you’ll find it a couple of degrees or so warmer than Las Vegas.