Parking a problem at South Cove

I think I can say with a fair degree of accuracy that the launch ramp and parking facilities at South Cove are the most important in all of the Lake Mead National Recreational Area for local residents.

The reason is simple.

South Cove allows us who want to recreate by boat good access to the upper end of Lake Mead without all of the problems associated with large numbers of out-of-state boaters.

There are just two developed launch ramps for Lake Mead in Mohave County, South Cove and Temple Bar.

Here is the problem at South Cove.

With the constant drop in the water level that has been occurring for many years now at Lake Mead, the concrete launch ramp is completely out of the water most of the time, (including now), and the distance from the edge of the water to the closest designated parking area is almost 1/2 mile.

While the walk down to the water isn't usually a problem, on hot days, the walk to the parking lot to retrieve your vehicle borders on being unbearable.

For the young and healthy, this walk may not be a problem, but for the elderly and/or disabled, it is a real issue.

The LMNRA has been "chasing the water" for several years by extending the concrete launch ramp as the water drops. They've spent a lot of money on the project and have a heck of a nice concrete ramp.

Currently, there is just one lane at the end of the ramp where watercraft can be launched and/or retrieved.

Recently, local sportsman Jay Chan went to Lake Powell to fish with his family.

Chan noticed there are long exposed launch ramps at Powell, but the National Park Service there handles the parking issue different than at South Cove.

The NPS there allows users to angle park on the ramp, thereby saving them long, hot and arduous treks to their vehicles.

When Chan returned back from his trip, he sent me a set of photos showing how the angle parking works at Lake Powell and asked why wouldn't this work at South Cove?

So I forwarded the photos and question to Jim Holland, a park planner for the LMNRA, and to Bill Dickinson, superintendent of the LMNRA.

On Thursday, I received an e-mail from Holland.

Holland said that parking on the ramps is part of a long ongoing discussion by the LMNRA.

He said the main issue with parking on a 10- to 12-degree ramp is safety. South Cove has a 12 percent grade.

Holland said, "Depending on which side of the vehicle you are on, the vehicle door will open real easy or real difficult."

He said, "When you are on a steep slope, the first step will be awkward to the point where some people will fall from their vehicle."

Holland also pointed out that under the parking arrangements by NPS at Lake Powell, those vehicles with trailers have to back into ramp traffic.

Holland said these were the reasons why the managers for the LMNRA haven't allowed this kind of parking except at Hemenway Harbor, which has only a 7 percent grade and a pull-through type of operation.

The good news, however, is that Holland acknowledged that Dickinson has agreed to entertain the idea of allowing parking on ramps as part of a management staff meeting or a low-water committee discussion.

A decision might be made within the next two weeks.

To make sure that the idea is discussed, I have sent copies of the proposal to Mohave County Board of Supervisor Chairman Pete Byers and to Game & Fish Region III Supervisor Bob Posey and asked that they follow up on this.

Byers sent me an e-mail in which he stated, while he was going on vacation, he would speak to Dickinson about the matter when he came back on the job.

This is good news for boaters and anglers, and hopefully, this problem can be resolved.

One thing is for certain, I'll keep in contact with Holland ( and Dickinson (

Maybe you as an interested public should too.