BOULDER CITY, Nev. – With 6.3 million visitors, Lake Mead National Recreation Area was the sixth most visited site in the National Park Service in 2013, according to figures released by the NPS March 10.
“Despite the 16-day government shutdown, visitation at the 1.5 million-acre park increased by 60,000 visitors compared to 2012,” said Christie Vanover, Lake Mead National Recreation Area public affairs officer. “This increase is due, in large part, to a 300,000-visitor spike at Katherine Landing on Lake Mohave, which is located near Laughlin, Nev., and Bullhead City, Ariz.”
The Boulder Basin continues to be the most popular area of the park with 1.6 million visitors accessing Lake Mead via U.S. Highway 93 in Boulder City and 1.2 million accessing the park via Lakeshore Road near Lake Las Vegas.
This marks the 75th year that the National Park Service has ranked Lake Mead among its top 10 most visited sites.
The lake was created in 1935 with the construction of the Hoover Dam. In 1936, the National Park Service began to administer the recreational uses on the lake under a memorandum of agreement with the Bureau of Reclamation. From 1937 to 1963, more than 45 million people visited Lake Mead, with a notable decrease in visitation seen during World War II.
Fifty years ago, Oct. 8, 1964, public law officially established Lake Mead as the National Park Service’s first national recreation area. The park welcomed 3.4 million visitors that year.
“As the first national recreation area, Lake Mead has had an enormous impact on the park service,” said Vanover. “After World War II, the nation yearned for outdoor recreational space, and this oasis in the desert Southwest filled that void.
“The park service used Lake Mead National Recreation Area as a model for the development of similar areas throughout the nation. The fact that four of the top 10 most-visited National Park Service sites in 2013 are national recreation areas, demonstrates that the value of recreation continues,” said Vanover.
Nationwide, in 2013, more than 273.6 million people visited the National Park Service’s 401 parks, historic sites and recreation areas that make up the National Park System.
More than 390 million people have visited Lake Mead since 1937.
Top 10 most-visited National Park Service sites
1. Golden Gate National Recreation Area (14.29 million)
2. Blue Ridge Parkway (12.88 million)
3. Great Smoky Mountains National Park (9.35 million)
4. George Washington Memorial Parkway (7.36 million)
5. Lincoln Memorial (6.55 million)
6. Lake Mead National Recreation Area (6.34 million)
7. Gateway National Recreation Area (6.19 million)
8. Natchez Trace Parkway (6.01 million)
9. Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historic Park (4.94 million)
10. Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (4.84 million)