The northernmost marina at Lake Mead will close at the end of the month because the National Park Service can’t find anyone to operate it.
Officials at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area announced Thursday that Echo Bay Marina will cease water-based services on Feb. 1, but the boat ramp, convenience store and other facilities are expected to remain open.
Forever Resorts has operated the marina for the past three years, but no one bid on a contract to run it for the next 10 years.
Rod Taylor, regional vice president for Forever Resorts, said upkeep on the aging facility has become too costly because of the decline in boat-slip rentals and the drop in the water levels at the lake.
“People have taken their boats home and parked them in their garages or parked them in their yards,” Taylor said.
The closure will leave the nation’s largest reservoir and its roughly 7 million annual visitors with three marinas, none of them on the Overton Arm at the lake’s northern tip.
There used to be a marina at Overton Beach, but low water chased the slips and docks away in 2007 and forced the park service to close the boat launch ramp in 2010.
Lake Mead spokeswoman Christie Vanover said there are no plans – and no pressing need – to close the launch ramp at Echo Bay, where the park service is in the midst of $4.5 million worth of improvements to the main access road.
Echo Bay draws approximately 200,000 visitors a year, she said.
Park officials are in talks with Forever Resorts on an agreement that will keep the store, land-based fuel tanks, RV park and dry boat storage yard open.
“People will still be able to launch their boats there, and we encourage them to do so,” Vanover said.
She cautioned, however, that the marine fueling station at Echo Bay will close when the marina does, so boaters will have to plan accordingly. Callville Bay Marina is roughly 30 miles away by boat.
A decade ago, the nearly 300 slips at Echo Bay were regularly filled with houseboats and other vessels, but Taylor said a little more than 90 boats are moored there now.
He said arrangements are being made to relocate those boats, but it will be up to the park service to decide what to do with the slips, docks, anchors and floating fueling platform.
Forever Resorts doesn’t rent any watercraft at Echo Bay, but it has turned several houseboats into floating hotel rooms in recent years. Taylor said they hope to move their “floatels” to Temple Bar Marina on the Arizona side of the lake.
He does not see the closure of Echo Bay as the beginning of the end for marinas at Lake Mead. There will always be houseboats. There will always be people who want to get out on the water.
“I’ve seen these ups and downs at other lakes,” Taylor said. “This will just make the marinas that are there stronger.”
Contact reporter Henry Brean at email@example.com or 702-383-0350.