Lake Mead Update

March 2003. Lake Mead elevation is currently at 1154, and is forecast to drop to 1142 to 1138 by July or August. The uncertainty is predicated by inflow snowpack and outflow requirements to California, Arizona and Nevada. Lake Mead full pool elevation is 1220.

Above Pearce Ferry, there is a nice camp by River Mile 273 on river right. The popular camp at Burnt Springs (River Mile 259.5 river right) is still accessible, but there is a sandbar in the middle of the river now, with the main current on the opposite side of the river. Riverbanks are generally steep and heavily vegetated with 2 year old Tamarisk. There are lots of camping beaches from Pearce Ferry down to Driftwood Island.

The Pearce Ferry take-out for river runners exiting the Grand Canyon remains closed. The sandbar between the present river channel and Pearce Bay is now 200 yards wide from the river to the Bay and is 10 to 12 feet above water level. Pearce Bay is now only 3 feet deep at the deepest. Last fall, a couple of hundred White pelican's stayed at the Bay for a few months. It is believed the pelicans were eating the fish trapped in the Bay.

In the river channel by Pearce Ferry, a small riffle has formed where the channel makes a 90' turn at the location of the old entrance to Pearce Bay. Approximately 600 ft above this riffle there is another river wide riffle with a 4 foot drop, suggesting a headwall erosional event, possibly due to the new river channel overtopping foothills adjacent to the pre-dam river channel. There are 150 feet of riffles below this 4 foot drop.

Below Pearce Ferry the river channel is well defined to past Grand Wash Bay. A 200 yard wide campable sand bar now separates the main channel from Grand Wash Bay, which is now a lake. The river remains a well-defined channel to just past Driftwood Island, where the river is now fingering out into small braided channels. Driftwood Island is no longer an island, and is connected to the country north of the old island. The main channel goes from the south side of Driftwood Island on a 45 degree angle southwest to Bradley Bay, just west of Center Point Ridge. From Driftwood Island to Boundary Point, the lake water is 7 to 2 feet deep with 2 to 3 feet deep being the predominant depth. Once in Iceberg Canyon, the lake depth by Boundary Point is 13 feet deep. Lots of sediment is being dumped in upper Iceberg Canyon near Boundary Point. National Park Service Rangers are encouraging river runners to exercise extreme caution in shallow areas due to sand bars, especially between river mile 249-262, and then at 280-288 ie Pearce to Boundary Point.

South Cove is reportedly not going to be impacted by the spring draw down 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 to avoid late afternoon river traffic. Maintenance work on the South Cove asphalt ramp will begin in April or May, there might be more delays at South Cove due to the construction.

National Park Service Rangers note that no camping is allowed on the 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.