Echo Bay Swimming Beach – Desert Swimming Hole!

The swimming area at Echo Bay, Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada

The swimming area at Echo Bay

On a recent trip, my group wanted to go swimming.  I couldn’t blame them; we had been camping and driving in 100F+ heat for several days, and we were all very hot and very sweaty.  It promised to get even hotter and sweatier since we were headed for Death Valley, which had apparently been trying to break heat records the week before.

 



 

So we figured we would swim in Lake Mead.  I’ve detailed our failure at that in another post, but we did eventually find a place to swim at Echo Bay.  In fact, it was a very nice swimming beach with easy access, even in the middle of the summer.

Looking back up toward the parking area from the swimming beach at Echo Bay in Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada

Looking back up toward the parking area from the beach

We pulled in around noon on a weekday in June.  The place was deserted except for a few cars – I think those people were out in boats on the lake since the boat ramp is on the other side of the promontory from the swimming beach.

 

From the large gravel parking lot, walk toward the far left end.  Scramble down the bank, and voila, you’re there!

 

The beach is made of hard sand and gravel.  It’s fairly firm, and you aren’t going to sink up to your knees (or even pinky toes) in mud.

The edge of the beach / waterline of the swimming beach at Echo Bay in Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada

The edge of the beach / waterline. We were trying to cool down the water in our water bottles – before we put them in the lake (tightly closed!), the water scalded on the way down.

The water felt great in the hot summer sun.  This is a small cove off the lake, proper, which probably makes the water slightly warmer than other places.  It also protects swimmers from the wake of boats on Lake Mead, though ripples still enter through the inslet.

 

We splashed and swam and jumped from the sides into the water (it’s pretty shallow near the edges; the edges also have slimy rocks, while the main section is much softer sand / gravel).  I swam from one end of the cove to the other, just because I could.  I had no idea how much those exercise workouts I’d been doing helped my swimming (not to mention the salinity of the water helps you float!)

 

The views are pretty good, too – nothing like desert plants all around, not to mention orange and yellow cliffs and a great blue sky, when you are swimming!

Views across the swimming beach at Echo Bay in Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada

Views across the swimming beach

Echo Bay was a resort for the not-too-rich and not-too-famous, first with rich businesspeople, and later with families looking for a break from the city, with a hotel, campground, boat launch, marina, gas station, landing strip, and who-knows-what-all-else.  However, as the waters of Lake Mead recede, so does business, so the hotel is closed, the gas station isn’t open, the landing strip is cracked, the original boat launch ends in a sandy wash, and the marina has trees growing between the berths.  Still, it’s said that Echo Bay was the inspiration for an online retailer – but since EchoBay.com was taken, he started his site called EBay.com.

 

Overall?  If you’re in the area and want a swim, this is a great place to do it.  But don’t expect a lot of visitor services; most of those have gone with the times.

 

Facilities: Primitive restroom in 1970s yellow.  The campground appeared to be open.  At some times of year, there may be water and visitor services.

Fees: Technically, a fee of $20/vehicle is charge; vessels are charged an additional fee.  There was no way to pay when I visited, and I had a Federal Lands Pass, and I wasn’t boating, so I didn’t worry about it.

Packing up to leave the Echo Bay swimming area in Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada

Packing up to leave

Road ★

Signs ★

Scenery ★

Interest ★

Fun Factor ★

Would I go 100 miles out of my way for this? ★

Overall Rating: ★

 

Key GPS Coordinates for Echo Bay

Trail to Swimming Beach: 36.2986900°, -114.4025900° (36°17.92140′, -114°24.15540′ / 36°17’55.2840″, -114°24’09.3240″)

Swimming Beach: 36.2988080°, -114.4021140° (36°17.92848′, -114°24.12684′ / 36°17’55.7088″, -114°24’07.6104″)

 

Getting to Echo Bay

From Las Vegas, navigate to UT 147 / E Lake Mead Blvd.  After about 10 miles, turn left onto UT-167 / Northshore Road.  Drive 32 miles and then turn right, following signs for Echo Bay.  Follow the paved road, then the gravel road, as it passes the campground and facilities and then descends steeply to Lake Mead.  Park at the end of the road.

 

From I-15, take Exit 93 to NV-169S / N Moapa Valley Blvd.  After 20 miles, pass the entrance to Valley of Fire State Park (on right) and the entrance fee station (closed when I visited).  Drive another 10.5 miles to turn left, following signs for Echo Bay.  Follow the paved road, then the gravel road, as it passes the campground and facilities and then descends steeply to Lake Mead.  Park at the end of the road.

Zoom map out to browse nearby hikes & places of interest

 

This Week’s Featured Product!

California gets hot in the summer, and what better way to get cool than to find a natural swimming hole?

 

 

 

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