In the 1980s, what is now Laughlin was a gas
station and bait shop with a couple of small casinos
beside the Colorado River -- at the bottom tip of the
state. Don Laughlin, an entrepreneur who developed the
first casino, decided that the little village required a
new name. It was originally called South Pointe. A basic
fellow, Laughlin wanted to call the place Casino, but the
post office demurred. It became Laughlin, and now it's a
busy casino center -- the third largest in the state,
bowing only to Las Vegas and Reno.
Laughlin Casino Hotels
Large casino hotels have been built along a riverside
walkway, and tourists come from Arizona, California, and
farther afield to enjoy relaxed and inexpensive resort
vacations. Laughlin was developed as a low-cost casino
resort center, and that policy paid off remarkably. The
Hilton Flamingo has joined a Golden Nugget,
and a Harrah's. A Ramada was added the
scene, and more hotels are abuilding. Together, they
offer more than 8,000 room. Don Laughlin's hotel, the
Riverside, is a major casino operation. Nearby is
the Colorado Belle, a casino shaped like a paddle
Things to See and Do
South of town is Laughlin's 18-hole Desert Target
Club, a PGA championship golf course. There's a
nine-hole course across the river in Bullhead
City, Arizona. A major side-attraction to gaming is
taking a ride on the Little Belle, a paddle
wheeler. Another is touring the Colorado River to the
Davis Dam, which separates the town from Lake
Mojave. Free ferry boats buzz across the Colorado to
Bullhead City, Arizona. RV owners park their vehicles in
a large RV park close to the casinos and the river.
Summer in Laughlin is a time of extreme heat, and the
Colorado River flies, more like gnats, are somewhat of a
pesky nuisance. Winter offers perfect temperatures with
no flies, the highs hovering around 75 or 80 and the lows
suitable for a good night's sleep. However, the summer
temperatures are made more comfortable by dipping into
the large resort hotel pools. Lake Mojave is just
north of town, offering boating, swimming, and other
water activities. There are three marinas north of the
dam, with the Lake Mead National Recreation Area
(farther north) offering camping and boating access.
Day-Trips from Laughlin
There are two ghost towns that offer glimpses of the
Old West. Forty six miles northeast of Laughlin (across
the Davis Dam) is Chloride, an 1860s silver mining town.
Melodramas are staged every first and third Saturday at
10:30 am and 2:30 pm. Giant rock murals have been painted
by western artist Roy Purcell. Oatman, also in Arizona,
is 30 miles south of Laughlin. This authentic gold mining
town has been preserved with museums, shops, and cafes.
Mules, the descendents of miner's working mules, wander
the streets are are the target of photographers. On
weekends, gunfighters stage Wild West shows on Oatman's
main street, which was part of historic Route 66.
Grapevine Canyon offers a walk through a desert
wash and into a canyon containing Indian petroglyphs.
Farther up the canyon is a surprising growth of wild
grape vines, and then hikers encounter small waterfalls
(if there has been enough rain). The canyon is accessed
by Christmas Tree Pass Road, off Hwy. 163, 6 miles west
of the Davis Dam.