Ultimate Boating Adventures

Trailering a brand new boat through the desert thoroughly tests this tow rig.

To most people, it might not make sense to take delivery of a brand new boat and then head immediately for the desert, especially when the Pacific Ocean is just a few miles away in the opposite direction. But we believe in miracles, and when we pulled out of Los Angeles in the pre-dawn twilight, our destination was a place many call the miracle of the desert, Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

Located just 30 miles east of that other wonder of the Western desert, Las Vegas, the Lake Mead Recreation Area straddles the Nevada/Arizona border and includes both Lake Mead and Lake Mohave-the 60-mile stretch of the Colorado River below the dam to Laughlin, Nevada. Presented with a long weekend and a new Malibu ski boat, we elected to head for the wide-open water of Mead.

We left early to avoid the morning Los Angeles traffic after packing our gear in the rear of the cab of a 2003 Chevy Silverado 1500LT, a task made easy by the wide rear doors and the folding back seat that created plenty of room for duffels loaded with gear and a big cooler.


Our Silverado was equipped with an optional Heavy Duty Trailering package which includes a trailer hitch platform and seven-pin wiring connector. With the 285-hp Vortec 5300 V8 under the hood, the Silverado has plenty of power to pull big loads. We’d already weighed our new boat, a Malibu Response LXi, on its trailer with a full load of fuel and all gear aboard. At about 3,800 pounds, we knew we were well within the capacity of the Silverado. After one last check of our hitch and safety chains, trailer lights, and trailer tire pressure, we were ready to head out for the high desert.

The most direct route took us east on Interstate 15 towards Barstow, and we were heading into the rising sun as we pulled off in Baker for breakfast. Ahead lay a real challenge for the Silverado, the Baker Grade, a long steady climb up the Shadow Mountains to Halloran Springs. With one touch of a button we activated the available QUADRASTEER, which provided enhanced steering control while towing at highway speeds. This stretch of highway is often used to test the towing capability of trucks and is especially grueling in the summer, when the temperature routinely climbs over 100 degrees. But our Silverado hardly broke a sweat as it breezed over the summit at the speed limit, thanks in part to the Tow/Haul Mode feature, which at the touch of a button reprograms the automatic transmission shift schedule to one specifically designed for maximum performance when towing.

We rolled right past the glittering skyline of Las Vegas just past lunchtime, and followed Highway 93 to the turn-off for the Alan Bible Visitor Center, our first stop at Lake Mead. A fee of $15 got us vehicle access and boat launches throughout the area for a five day period. We launched at Lake Mead Marina, a full-service facility near the visitor center. With QUADRASTEER, backing down the boat ramp was much easier due to the reduced turning radius, and our trailer followed the truck’s path more closely, handling tight turns and maneuvers nicely. Our first destination was a short run around the Boulder Islands and up a narrow finger where the Hoover Dam can be seen, which was completed in 1935 and is less impressive from the lake side than from Black Canyon, more than 1,000 feet below the dam on its downstream side.


We spent the rest of the day cruising under a clear, cobalt sky. The shore of Lake Mead presents endless opportunities for exploration. We poked into coves guarded by steep, red rock walls and carried our cooler ashore at a secluded beach. The canyon walls that surround most of Lake Mead are marked with a white ring that climbs some 30 feet above the waterline, evidence that the water level in the lake is at its lowest point since the early 1970s, due mostly to a lack of winter snowpack in the Rocky Mountains. Each spring, this melting snow swells the lesser rivers that feed the Colorado and Virgin Rivers, which in turn fill the lake. The water level had no impact on our boating, however, as most launch ramps remain accessible.

The next day, we towed our boat over the top of Hoover Dam (be prepared for a security inspection of all trailers), up the steep grade of Highway 93 on the other side and onward about 15 miles to the road to Willow Beach, a marina facility on the river below Hoover Dam. We launched there and cruised north within the dark, vertical walls of aptly named Black Canyon. It’s about 10 miles to the point where navigation is prohibited at the base of Hoover Dam. Deep in Black Canyon, it’s possible to imagine what much of the Lake Mead area looked like before the dam filled the canyons and covered the river rapids that menaced the steamboats that plied the river in the late 19th century.

Following a tip from a friend, we located a trail in a gap in the canyon wall leading to a small hot spring and enjoyed a short soak before heading back downstream to Willow Beach. That evening, as we crested the heights at Boulder City after passing back over Hoover Dam, the sizzling skyline of Las Vegas exploded into view below us, a shocking site after a day spent floating in the wilderness of the canyon. The miracle of the desert? We’ll take Lake Mead.


At speeds below 40 to 45 mph, the rear wheels turn opposite the front to a maximum turn angle of 12 degrees. When traveling at speeds above 40 to 45 mph, available QUADRASTEER allows the front and rear wheels to turn in the same direction for smoother transition during passing or lane changes. The 2003 Silverado is here with a brand new look that’s turning heads everywhere. But the new Silverado is more than just a pretty face. It’s got all the same proven power, pulling and payload you’ve come to expect. In half-ton, three-quarter and one-ton trucks, the name is still Silverado. And select half-ton models are now available with QUADRASTEER four-wheel steering, 1 making Silverado the most-maneuverable full-size pickup you can get.2 The new Silverado. The Truck. From Chevy. The most dependable, longest-lasting trucks on the road.3

When it comes to steering, four wheels are better than two. That’s the thinking behind QUADRASTEER1 by Delphi, an available four-wheel steering innovation that allows specially equipped 1500 Extended Cab Short Box and 1500HD models to maneuver much like smaller vehicles.

At low speeds, QUADRASTEER gives Silverado a reduced turning radius for making tight turns and handling parking maneuvers. In fact, Silverado 1500 Extended Cab models equipped with QUADRASTEER have a best-in-class turning diameter of 37.4 feet.4


When traveling at highway speeds, QUADRASTEER enhances steering control when you’re pulling a boat, and whether you are passing or simply changing lanes.

You have to experience the available QUADRASTEER system firsthand to see how truly amazing it is. It’s just one more reason why Chevy Silverado continues to redefine the full-size truck market.

1 Only on specially equipped Ext. Cab Short Box and 1500HD models. Call 877-THE-TRUCK or go to for details. 2 Based on turning diameter. Excludes other GM vehicles. 3 Dependability based on longevity: 1981-July 2001 full-line light-duty truck company registrations. Excludes other GM divisions. 4 Excludes other GM vehicles.