Laughlin - Nevada

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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 steamer.

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.


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