We recently scouted out some of the best boondocking or dry camping spots around Las Vegas, Nevada. We’d received several recommendations from friends and wanted to check things out for ourselves. We visited the Desert National Wildlife Refuge, Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, Lake Mead National Recreation Area, and BLM land outside Lake Mead.
Watch the video below to see the different areas, and be sure to stick around to the end for the antique RV’s in Nelson, NV.
Desert National Wildlife Refuge
Located off US-95 North of Las Vegas, the Desert NWR was established in 1936 to provide habitat and protection for desert bighorn sheep. They have a top notch visitor’s center where a ranger was happy to explain the lay of the land and show us potential boondocking sites on a topographical map.
The Desert NWR covers 1.6 million acres and is the largest wildlife refuge outside of Alaska. We scouted out locations within a 2 mile radius of the visitor center due to the rough off-road conditions.
The available spaces we found along Alamo Road (GPS: 36.4396, -115.3576) seemed too small for our Fifth Wheel although this van fit nicely.
We found larger turnouts along Mormon Wells Road (GPS: 36.4353, -115.3515).
Spring Mountains National Recreation Area
Just across US-95 from the Desert NWR, you quickly climb in elevation into the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, part of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. It was so amazing to drive from Joshua Trees to Ponderosa Pines in just a 15 minutes.
There are several free camping locations scattered throughout the area, but our favorite was at an area called Blue Tree Group Camp (GPS: 36.3617, -115.635). There is a sign marking it clearly from the road, but the sites are all nestled in among the trees giving you a little privacy even if others are around. The only drawback for us was that there was no Verizon signal.
Lake Mead National Recreation Area
To the east of Las Vegas is the beautiful oasis in the desert, Lake Mead. It is a very popular dry camping area outside of Las Vegas so you will have to vie for the best spots.
The first that we looked at is known as Government Wash (GPS: 36.1309, -114.8369). It is easy to access and even has bathrooms at the start of the road. We found it a little too crowded for our taste this Spring.
You can drive a bit farther back and get away from the bulk of the crowd.
We preferred 8 Mile Road (GPS: 36.1364, -114.8226). You travel down the unpaved road for about a mile after leaving the main scenic roadway and will see a handful of turnouts. If you have a 4 wheel drive and are a little braver, you can go even closer to the end of the road and the water. We only saw one other RV here and it the Verizon cell signal was terrific!
Please note if you don’t have a national parks pass, you will have to pay for entry ($20 per RV) into Lake Mead National Recreation Area.
Overton Bureau of Land Management
Between Lake Mead and Valley of the Fire State Park is Overton, NV where you can find several different places to dry camp on BLM land. We drove by a place known as Snowbird Mesa or Poverty Flats (GPS: 36.4815, -114.4506), and I thought the scenery was striking. However, it was very crowded so we decided to skip it.
We had friends who stayed here in January and said it wasn’t as crowded. You can see some drone footage of it in their video below.
What Would You Choose?
Let us know in the comments below what you look for in an ideal boondocking location. Would you choose one of these?
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We’ve camped at Government Wash before and it seems to be hit and miss with the crowds. So sad to see the lake so low.