It’s amazing how, for people who have chosen to live in a desert, Southern Nevadans so avidly embrace activities done in and around water.
From Lake Mead to city ponds, locals love to stave off summer’s torrid temperatures with visits to refreshing aquatic venues. And, in a time of battling a pandemic, all offer a chance to enjoy a bit of fresh air and sunshine amid safe, socially distanced surroundings.
Here are a few ways to give your summer days a delightful dunk.
Paddle a kayak
Exploring Lake Mead and its environs in a one- or two-person kayak offers great scenery and a refreshing physical workout, and social distancing is easy.
Desert Adventures offers guided kayaking day trips lasting from a few hours to all day, as well as overnight trips and daytime hiking and biking excursions.
Owner Izzy Collett has seen an uptick of local customers booking kayaking trips this summer, “which is really nice because we’ve been trying to get the local market out here for a long time. It seems they’ve finally figured out there’s water over here.”
Guided kayak trips include a half-day paddling trip on Lake Mead and an all-day trip that begins below Hoover Dam and ends at Willow Beach. Prices for guided kayak trips begin at $144.
Desert Adventures, 1647 Boulder City Parkway, Boulder City; 702-293-5026, kayaklasvegas.com
Swim at Lake Mead
We don’t have an ocean, but visiting Lake Mead National Recreation Area for a dip in the United States’ largest reservoir is a memorable way to cool off.
Accessible from the park’s Boulder City entrance station are Boulder Beach, which is reserved for swimmers, and Special Events Beach, Canoe/Kayak Beach and PWC Beach, where swimmers may share the beach with watercraft and other aquatic enthusiasts.
Bathers are being asked to stay 10 feet apart and wear face masks when not swimming. As always, beach shoes are recommended because of rocky bottoms. And because beach capacity limits are being enforced, the park recommends checking its Facebook page (facebook.com/lakemeadnps) and Twitter feed (@lakemeadnps) for up-to-date information. Daily vehicle entry fee is $25.
Lake Mead National Recreation Area: nps.gov/lake/planyourvisit/swimming.htm; 702-293-8990
Rent a houseboat
Don’t let not actually owning a boat keep you from getting out on the water. Lake Mead Mohave Adventures offers captains-to-be rental houseboats at Callville Bay Marina on Lake Mead.
Chad Taylor, the company’s director of sales and marketing, said about 70 percent of Lake Mead houseboat renters are from out of state. This year, he’s seeing an increase in locals looking for a close-to-home, COVID-safe adventure.
Many “didn’t even know we had a lake until they got locked in their houses and wanted to get outside,” said Taylor, who also is noticing a large number of first-timers this summer.
Rentals run from about $700 to about $2,000 per day for boats ranging in size from 50 to 75 feet.
Lake Mead Mohave Adventures: lakemeadmohaveadventures.com; 877-262-8212.
Cruise Lake Mead
Taking a sightseeing or dinner cruise on a three-level paddlewheeler on Lake Mead offers a different look at our backyard ocean. And while COVID-19 has prompted Lake Mead Cruises to pare back its schedule, cruises still are available.
Currently, a two-hour dinner cruise featuring a live band heads out at 5:30 p.m. Saturdays. Price is $79 per adult and $39 for children ages 2 to 11. Then, sightseeing cruises are offered at 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays at $35 for adults and $17 for children ages 2 to 11.
Guests are asked to wear masks, and social distancing guidelines are followed.
Lake Mead Cruises, 866-292-9191, lakemeadcruises.com
Get daring at Lake Las Vegas
Lake Las Vegas Water Sports has plenty of ways to enjoy the water, and a few of them lean toward the daring side.
There’s an Aqua Park, a Cable Park with a pulley system that allows wakeboarding or tubing without a boat, and rentals of paddleboards, kayaks and electric boats.
For the particularly daring there’s the Flyboard Jet Pack, in which riders strap water-propelled jets onto their feet and fly like Iron Man.
Andy Gil Garcia, Lake Las Vegas marketing director, said the attraction is drawing more local residents this year as tourist traffic dropped off and homebound locals escaped their confines.
“We’re excited we’re getting new locals who probably have never been to Lake Las Vegas Water Sports,” he said.
Masks must be worn when entering the village, Garcia said, and social distancing and capacity restrictions are in effect. Prices vary by attraction.
Lake Las Vegas Water Sports registration, lakelasvegaswatersports.com
Wet a line at urban ponds
While many anglers head to Lake Mead, fishing enthusiasts also can enjoy the closer-to-home options offered by urban ponds located at Floyd Lamb Park, Lorenzi Park, Sunset Park, and Veterans Memorial Park in Boulder City.
The ponds are stocked seasonally with channel catfish and rainbow trout, and they’re popular with anglers ranging from kids clutching bamboo poles to fly fishermen perfecting their casts.
A Nevada fishing license is required at the ponds. A single-day adult license for Nevada residents is $9, and an annual adult resident license is $40. Annual youth licenses are $15 for ages 12 through 17, and kids 11 and under fish free.
And it seems that the pandemic has acquainted, or reacquainted, plenty of Nevadans with their inner angler. Doug Nielsen, a spokesman and conservation educator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife, said that by the end of June, the state had recorded a 23 percent jump in fishing license sales over last year.
Anglers at city ponds are subject to park hours and regulations, and state catch limits are enforced. For information about state fishing regulations, visit the Department of Wildlife at ndow.org.