Temple Bar is only an hour and a half or so from Las Vegas, yet somehow has remained underutilized, if not undiscovered, by most of the city’s outdoor lovers. That reason alone would recommend it as an especially relaxing getaway destination, but there are plenty of other reasons.
For one, its winter weather is about perfect for outdoor activity. On the Arizona shore of Lake Mead, the area is about 1,235 feet in elevation and is usually a few degrees warmer than Las Vegas. Daily highs in February average in the mid-60s.
You’ll find great desert landscapes to hike, and if you get out on the lake by boat, you can explore the shores, fish or watch birds. Just coming to the campground for the night is well worth the trip and includes the bonus of night skies much darker than anywhere in the Las Vegas Valley, making it a good place to stargaze.
Temple Bar Marina takes center stage here, and if you don’t bring your own boat, you can easily rent one. The marina has several types available including those suitable for fishing, waterskiing and such, as well as deck boats, personal watercraft and kayaks. Boats are available to rent hourly, daily and multi-day. Make reservations through Forever Resorts at 800-255-5561. It’s open daily from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mountain Standard Time Mondays through Fridays and 8 to 4:30 p.m. Mountain Standard Time Saturdays and Sundays.
Once on the water, you can head in either direction, but I prefer upriver to South Cove. Along the way, you will find a few sandy beaches and plenty of small coves to check out. Wildlife viewing is almost always satisfying; I have seen dozens of desert bighorn sheep as well as wild burros along the shores, besides bald eagles, ospreys and hawks.
Of all camping destinations in the sprawling Lake Mead National Recreation Area, the Temple Bar Campground is my favorite. I have camped there about a dozen times over the years and found it mostly empty most of the time, which is unusual in park service campgrounds. Twice last month, our party had it entirely to ourselves, an extraordinary luxury. The campground is clean and well-maintained, with all standard amenities such as picnic tables, fire pits, restrooms and potable water from spigots. Furthermore, it is highly vegetated, adding both privacy and also shade. The vegetation is mostly non-native species: oleander, fan palms, Mediterranean olive and eucalyptus. Sites are $10 per night, first-come, first-served.
Handy to the campground are a couple of hills you can climb in just a few minutes. Bring a chair or a blanket, and these heights make great perches to view the dark night skies. Feb. 18 will bring a new moon — i.e., a dark one — making it easier to see faint celestial objects such as galaxies and star clusters. March 5 will bring a full moon, a delight in itself.
If tent camping isn’t your thing, the marina also has lodging and an RV park with full hook-ups, laundry, restrooms and showers. There are many types of lodging choices including single rooms, kitchen rooms and cabins; rates run $51 to $111 a night through March, with higher prices later in the season. Many rooms are pet-friendly. The marina has a restaurant, store and gasoline, and there is a small airstrip close by. Contact Forever Resorts at 928-767-3211 or visit templebarlakemead.com.
Located in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Temple Bar Marina offers easy access to Lake Mead’s hundreds of miles of shoreline and crystal clear waters. Take in views of giant monoliths like the Temple, Napoleon’s Tomb and Mushroom Rock from a powerboat or spend the day tempting a plentiful array of bass, catfish, trout and more. Water skiers will flip over Temple Bar marina’s 20-mile, unobstructed water-ski runs. Those who prefer a slower pace can find a fleet of small boats to suit their needs at our full-service marina. From fully equipped fishing boats to deck cruisers, we have vessel for every occasion. All watercrafts are in the water, fueled and ready to go! No special license is required. Water skis, wakeboards, knee boards are also available. When it’s time to stretch your legs, strike out into the desert for a glimpse of the local wildlife.
Named for the towering rock formation across the lake, Temple Bar Marina is the only resort on the Arizona side of Lake Mead. This hideaway is home to lakeside lodging and a convenient RV Park with full hook-ups, coin operated laundry and easy access to the convenience store, gift shop, café and launch ramp. Additional amenities include small boat rentals, fuel and slip rentals.