We took a half day to wander from Laughlin over to Lake Havasu, Arizona and see the newest home of the old London Bridge. After driving there, we realized we could have just taken a boat on down! But the desert drive was fun, and not too long .... and neither of us got motion sick, so ........
This place is definitely a tourist trap, but a fun one if you can handle being around partiers who think that alcohol, sex, and boating are a good combo. So I avoided those folk, and wandered the riverbank, enjoyed some fairly decent fish and chips, and window shopped ....
The beauty of the river, the life of the river .... ah, definitely a nice addition to my long weekend away ;)
We rented a car and drove to Oatman. this is a little tourist spot with wild donkeys roaming the streets. If you feed them a carrot, beware, they will hassle you worse then beach vendors or timeshare sales people in Cancun.
Oatman Arizona is about an hour's drive from Laughlin, in the nearby mountains. The views are breathtaking. There is an old mine and tour, as well as horseback riding.
This is a wonderful way to spend part of a day in the region :)
I've included the link to the stables, just in case you are interested .....
Christmas Tree Pass
Lake Mead Recreation Area
All of these places are a little drive away from Laughlin - about 2 hours max! This makes Laughlin a great, inexpensive home base during your explorations of this wonderful desert and river region :)
Grapevine Canyon is a great spot to get away from the casinos in Laughlin. Just head out of Laughlin on Hwy 163 a few miles. Turn off onto Christmas Tree Pass. It's a dirt road, but kept up so any passenger car can drive it. Maybe 3 miles to the signs to Grapevine Canyon. Plenty of parking and restrooms. No charge.
It's only a 1/4 mile walk to the base of the canyon. Ancient Indian Petroglyphs are on the rocks and there are small waterfalls. For me it was a truly magical place.
Word of Warning - watch out for rattlesnakes. We visited over Easter weekend and came across a 3 foot Western Diamondback rattlesnake. In the spring they are very active. It was crossing the small creek and we watched it for 15 minutes - I'll post the photos soon.
Laughlin casinos have plenty of action to occupy your time (and cash) but, You've just got to get outside to play or you'll miss the best part of the desert..
Oatman is a well travelled tourist stop but it's far more entertaining if you take advantage of the less well known activities. You can reach Oatman with a only a 30 minute drive or aboard one of the many tours that visit the Gold Road Mine, so it's easy to get there. But don't settle for petting the (tame) wild burros, watching the faux gunfight, or riding through the working gold mine. Call Oatman Stables and have Tom of Jennifer arrange a trail ride through the historic Black Mountains, a Sunset Steak Ride or even a cattle drive.
We planned a four hour ride through the mining claims around Oatman, and found some REAL wild burros, got a running commentary on the history around us and an extra hour of entertainment (no extra charge). The horses were gentle and well behaved as were our gracious hosts. They have enough ponies and saddles to handle a large group for as little as an hour up to several hours. We didn't join the Sunset Steak Ride but we saw the location and can HIGHLY RECCOMEND the hosts.
Add a little outdoor excitement to Laughlin and visit Tom & Jennifer at Oatman Stables.
The Avi Hotel & Casino is located perhaps 10 miles south of Laughlin on the Aha Macav Indian Reservation. It is the only Indian casino I know of in either California or Nevada that offers a full range of table games. Features friendly staff, nice reasonably priced rooms, good food, pool/spa, a swimmable beach, jet ski rentals, RV park, golf course, a store selling Class C fireworks and untaxed cigarettes; hosts special events including music and crafts festivals.
Perhaps the hottest town (temperature-wise) in the US, Needles is a town that you drive through on your way back to California. If Laughlin hotels are booked solid on a weekend or for a special event, you will usually be able to find motel rooms here (35 miles to the south). Remember to get gas (and BOTTLED WATER) here before heading west across the desert on the I-40.
If you happen to be in the mood to site-see away from the
river, Oatman is the family fun spot which is about 10 miles
east of Bullhead City- on the Arizona side across from the
casinos in Nevada. It is an old gold mining town, which has
been preserved in all it's quaintness, complete with wild burros roaming the street, with an occasional cute baby burro tagging behind. Shopkeepers keep carrots and burro food on hand which can be purchased for a quarter or two.
And many deals can be found on leather goods and crafts by
Katherine's Landing is at the dam north of the casinos. It
is a busy place for boating and water skiing, with remote camping areas, such as Telephone Cove, which can be reached (maps available from Ranger Station)
without the aid of a 4x4 with minimal travel on a dirt road.
This particular site has a parking lot with trash bins, vault toilets and a covered picnic
table with a spacious cove for swimming and splashing in the water. There are many beautifully colored stones to be found just browsing the shoreline...