Ahhhh, a return to Willow Beach Marina & Campground, one of our favorite spots! Since we had a nine week reservation beginning on November 23rd, it would be perfect place to celebrate the holidays!
On Thanksgiving, we enjoyed a dinner of our favorites: rumaki as an appetizer, followed by a dinner of ham (neither one of us are big turkey fans), delmonico potatoes, curried fruit, and carrots with shallots and thyme. And believe it or not, we had a repeat performance on Christmas. But something different on New Year’s Eve, a new Shrimp Scampi recipe served on Angel Hair Pasta. Delicious!,
Sunday, the 27th, was a momentous day! My birthday (not that I want to admit it these days)! Per my wishes, it was a low key kind of day with many hours of hanging around, sitting outside and doing absolutely nothing. Instead of a cake with candles, my favorite Boy Scout built a campfire for me in honor of my special day. Rob had a similar quiet celebration on his birthday on December 6th.
Although we had stayed at Willow Beach several times before and had explored many of the attractions, there’s always something new to discover in the area. In between lazy days of relaxation, enjoying roaring campfires at night, watching stunning sunsets and Rob crossing off several projects on his to do list, we found new places to explore.
While visiting Boulder City, we usually stopped at Hemenway Park to see the big horn sheep grazing on the park grass was a must do! Although the park is in a somewhat residential environment, knowing that these wild beasts make a daily trek down from the surrounding mountains is awesome. In fact, it is so cool, several visits were required!
Due to the drought, the water in Lake Mead was drastically low. Catch up on our previous visits in these posts: Willow Beach and Beyond, Cruisin’ On The Colorado, Man Made Wonders Part I, Man Made Wonders Part II, Exploring The Lake Mead Recreation Area, Willow Beach And Beyond, On The Colorado Again, and Rediscovering The City That Built Hoover Dam.
To get there, it was a scenic drive via Lakeshore Road. Government Wash is interesting and clearly a popular spot for boondockers based on the number of RV’s and campers there. We only saw a couple of small sunken boats.
Hiking the Historic Railroad Trail had always been on our list of things to do and we were determined during this visit to check this item off our list.
The 3.7 mile trail features incredible vistas of Lake Mead and Boulder Basin and five tunnels – each approximately 25 feet wide, 30 feet high, and 300 feet long. Back in 1931, the federal government partnered with six companies to build nearly 30-miles of railroad connecting the Hoover Dam and Boulder City with cement mixing plants, quarry pits, a gravel sorting plant, and other resources in Las Vegas needed to build the dam. Trains ran 24 hours a day! In 1962, the tracks were dismantled and in 1992 the trail was established. The connection to the Hoover Dam became open to the public in 2007. Read more about the fascinating history here.
Now this was exciting! When we arrived at the parking lot, we noticed a guy with an ABC News mic talking to a cameraman. It turned out to be Joe Moeller for KTNV, the local Las Vegas ABC station. When he saw us, he stopped us to ask if he could interview us for the report he was doing on the water levels of Lake Mead. Being camera shy, I declined but Rob quickly agreed. It appeared on the news that night. Pretty cool!
Who knew I’d end up married to a TV star! Before Joe left us, he recommended that we visit Nelson, NV and take the gold mine tour and visit the Pioneer Saloon which is the oldest bar in Nevada. We did visit Nelson (see this post) but didn’t have time to go to the Pioneer Saloon, maybe next time.
Beautiful scenery along the trail! It was about 1-1/2 miles to tunnel 1, then just a short distance to tunnel 2. Multiple markers along the way explained how they dug the tunnels, how they reinforced them with timbers, and the living conditions in tents for the workers and their families.
It took them 5 months to build the railroad to bring the building supplies to Hoover Dam. Totally amazing!
Were we tired of all the spectacular scenery? Not hardly, in fact, a repeat performance of our visit to Valley of Fire State Park was a must! On our previous visit in January 12,2022, there were several spots (such as Elephant Rock, Atlatl Overlook, etc.) that we missed, and a few trails (like Fire Canyon Overlook) we wanted to hike. Check out our recent post and latest photos!
To get to the Redstone Dune Trail and Valley of Fire, we love to drive Northshore Road (AZ-167) which is mostly within the Lake Mead Nat’l Recreation Area. This drive, in and of itself, is just as spectacular as the aforementioned destinations. This is probably one of the most under appreciated and under visited drives we have ever encountered! But don’t tell anyone, the traffic is very light, let’s keep it that way.
As usual, sampling the local cuisine is always at the top of our list and this visit to Willow Beach was no exception. During our extended stay, we ate several times at the Southwest Diner where one day we had their specialty, Chile Relleno Casserole with banana bread ($14.95), and another time, the breakfast special #2 ($10.95) which is one egg, bacon (Rob) or sausage (me), home fries and banana bread. Funny on previous visits, we liked this Diner more than the Coffee Cup Cafe but during this visit, it was just the opposite.
Not sure how many times we went to the Coffee Cup Cafe but it was a lot! The campground doesn’t want you sending packages to the office so anything we ordered on Amazon had to be delivered to an Amazon locker in Boulder City right across the street from the Coffee Cup. And we ordered a lot! Usually a trip to the locker justified either breakfast or lunch of the Coffee Cup.
Some of the breakfast dishes we had were: a delicious Pork Chili Verde Omelet ($11.50), Breakfast Tacos (3 for $11) which were good but not really our cup of tea; Country Fried Steak which Rob really liked ($12), and some of their standard breakfast dishes, all of which were very good.
For lunch, on separate days, we tried their Smothered Meatloaf ($11) which was very good, served on toast with mashed potatoes (possibly instant??) and canned corn, and the Rib eye steak sandwich ($12) which was delicious.
Another new spot for us was at The Dillinger where we stopped for lunch one day.
We both had the Baby Face Nelson Burger, a burger topped with baked Brie cheese, mixed greens & fig marmalade ($14.50). It was good, but definitely not up to par with the Brie Burger we have had at Stinky’s Fish Camp in Santa Rosa Beach, FL, or the Laguna Burger we’ve had at the Pit Stop in Albuquerque, or Sparky’s burger in Hatch, NM!
When we took a trip into Henderson, NV to stock up on supplies, we tried a new place, the Pacific Diner, but unfortunately it turned out to be just a mediocre breakfast of bacon & eggs. Definitely not a spot we would add to our favorites list.
Shortly after the New Year, we had a run of not so great weather, unusual for this area. A storm that was hitting CA caused several days of showers, wind and cold temps. It called for a change in our plans, but more about that in another post.
More photos here of our stay at Willow Beach!