Lake Mead Update

Lake Mead elevation is currently at 1140 feet, having dropped 14 feet since March, 2003. The lake is forecast to drop to 1129 feet by June, 2004, subject to the winters snowfall and outflow requirements to California, Arizona and Nevada. Lake Mead full pool elevation is 1220 feet.

Colorado River current continues to flow past Boundary Point, as the sediment cone and river channel pushes out into Iceberg Canyon. End of current is now at North Howland Cove, roughly half way through Iceberg Canyon. The channel runs down the west side of Iceberg Canyons western cliffs. The Lake is still 90 feet deep at Devils Cove, just above Sandy Point. The river may be fairly clear at Separation Canyon (River Mile 240), but becomes more turbid by Burnt Spring, so much so that by Columbine Falls the river is brown with moving silt. There are lots of beach areas to camp on below South American Point, downstream of Pearce Ferry. Hydraulics at Lava Point continue but no rapid has formed there yet.

The upper rapid by Pearce Ferry has cut into the right river bank sediments. The run here is to the right, with exposed rock on the left. The lower riffle still has a strong eddy on the right and a strong wave train. A new sandbar has formed on river left below the lower riffle, and river runners will need to go to the right of this sandbar. Pearce Ferry will remain closed to all boating into the foreseeable future due to low reservoir levels.

Sandbar Alley, an area of shallow water with many sandbars, is now extending from just below the Bat Caves upriver to Mile 253, but there are several sandbars above that up to Surprise Canyon. Dry Canyon corner has a large bar on river right that extends all the way down to the Bat Caves. The current is on the left. There are lots of sandbars in the channel near the Oriental Tours boat landing. Just upstream of there, at Burnt Canyon, there is a big bar on the left, and just above that there is a large bar on the right. There is good access to the Burnt Canyon campsite, with a big sandbar a mile above that on the right.

South Cove is not going to be impacted by the draw down this year and remains open. All river runners taking out at South Cove are supposed to use the gravel area on the south side of the concrete ramp. River runners are asked to be patient in the de-rig area as Hualapai, concessions and public rafters are all taking out in the same area. River runners are encouraged to maintain as small a take-out footprint as possible, and try to de-rig as quickly as possible. Early take-outs are recommended in the high use seasons of late spring, summer and early fall, to avoid late afternoon river traffic. Maintenance work on the South Cove asphalt ramp has been completed. Dumpsters at South Cove are not for downriver use at this time per trip permit regulations.

National Park Service Rangers note that no camping is allowed on the South Cove ramp and take-out area, or the public swimming area just north of the concrete ramp. Camping is allowed outside the harbor area, and is available one-quarter mile downstream (south) of the concrete ramp below the rock jetty just downstream of the take out. The Mead View Scat machine is closed for the winter, and will tentatively re-open in March.