Closed boat ramps, storms lead to struggles for Lake Mead businesses

Published: Sep. 5, 2022 at 10:22 AM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - Labor Day historically brings the last busy boating weekend of summer, and some are braving the hot temperatures to head out to Lake Mead.

Boats launched with ease Friday without having to wait for more than one or two trucks ahead of them.

The regulars say the summer has been quieter than expected.

“Last year there were lines backed up a couple hours,” one local boater named Adam said. “This year I haven’t seen more than six people in line.”

“I think a lot of people are deterred from coming here right now because of the water level and the bad press the lakes been getting,” boater Scott Dunn said.

However, water sports businesses like Above All Las Vegas that rents out jet skis said having just one launch ramp created their worst summer ever.

“We stared at them more than we sent them out this year,” owner of All Above Las Vegas ATV tours and Watercraft Rentals Kim Kelch said. “Out of the five one of them, one never even saw the lake this year. That’s how much my business was impacted.”

Kelch made the decision this summer to only do multi-day rentals. The goal was to avoid people coming back unhappy after wasting most of their day waiting to launch.

“That was the only thing that made sense to me to make it worth people’s effort and their money,” Kelch said. ”There’s no guarantee that we’re going to get more water in the lake, so we just don’t even know what next year’s going to look like for us.”

The boaters launching out of Hemenway Harbor Friday found the positives of the changes.

“There’s so many new nice beaches,” boater Craig Travers said. “Not that the water being low is good, but that’s the one thing the low water creates is all these beautiful beaches out there.”

Park officials say be extra aware of your surroundings because lower levels mean more hazards that could get in your way. That can include a rock hitting your propeller.

Officials said it’s possible wait times could reach four hours on holiday weekends like Labor Day. Willow Beach could reach capacity by 9 a.m. over the weekend.