Today, Lake Mead is one of the best houseboat lakes in the country, but it was once part of a much larger ancient sea. We know this because of the area's astounding geological features. In fact, the Lake Mead National Recreation Area preserves one of the most complete and longest geologic records of any United States national park. Within Lake Mead’s National Recreation Area’s 1.5 million acres, visitors can see geological features spanning nearly two billion years of history.
Fossils are one of the many traces of Earth’s history that can be found at Lake Mead National Recreation Area. When most people think of fossils, they imagine the massive dinosaur skeletons at natural history museums. While dinosaur remains are impressive fossils, they are not the most common and generally are not found near Lake Mead. There are two relatively common fossils at Lake Mead: mollusk shells and trace fossils.
Mollusks were ancient sea creatures that thrived in the Las Vegas valley area. Along Cottonwood Wash in Lake Mead, it is common to see the fossils of Cenozoic bivalves. These were animals similar to clams and oysters that lived up to 65 million years ago. Oyster and snail fossils can be found in the Cottonwood Wash area as well as fossilized ripple marks from the seas that covered this area millions of years ago.
Rather than fossilized remains of shells or bones, trace fossils are the tracks and burrows of creatures that have been preserved in fossilized sand or mud. In the mudstones of Lake Mead National Recreation Area, the most prevalent trace fossils are the tracks of animals. Prints from extinct camels, wolves, and birds have been found at Lake Mead National Recreation Area, serving as evidence of the many creatures that used to thrive in this beautiful land.
The American Southwest is home to some of the most fantastic fossil sites in the world. Lake Mead National Recreation Area offers the amazing ability to see the history of the land written in stone. The breathtaking rock layers and stunning formations that tell the story of this area are one of the reasons it is one of the best houseboat lakes in the country. Contact us today to book your next Lake Mead houseboat vacation and see the stunning landscape of Earth’s history.