What better way to experience Laughlin than the way people have been appreciating the area for thousands of years? Checking out the nightlife and award winning casinos that dot the Laughlin Strip is assuredly satisfying, but so is exploring the boundless recreation and breathtaking views the Colorado River serves up. With tons of options on how to best enjoy this iconic stretch of waterway, one surely successful option is the Big Bend of the Colorado State Recreation Area. Part of the Nevada State Parks system, this stretch of pristine beaches and prime picnicking areas will make for a fun, safe, and relaxing way to enjoy the mighty Colorado River.
EARLY DAYS ON THE COLORADO RIVER
The Mojave American Indians were the region's earliest inhabitants, and lived along the shores of the Colorado River for more than 10,000 years ago . Interestingly enough, when translated, the Mojave name means “people who live along the water.” This ancient civilization of people lived in the surrounding mountainsides, and utilized the river as a lifesource. Europeans began making their way to the area when Spanish explorer Melchor Diaz visited the present-day Big Bend of the Colorado River, and of course early pioneers as they made their way west to California.
Though hard to imagine when visiting today, Laughlin was still an incredibly small community up until the 1960s. People certainly lived in the area, but there were no casinos to be found, and not even a way of crossing the river to Bullhead City. That is, up until Don Laughlin came into the picture, and opened his Riverside Resort. Over time, a town formed and was named in his honor, and several other major casinos expanded the Laughlin Strip you see today.
VISITING BIG BEND TODAY
Located only 8 miles from downtown Laughlin, Big Bend a supreme destination for outdoor recreationalists. Since becoming a Nevada State Park in 1996, this stretch of the Colorado River has become the ultimate stomping grounds for picnicking, bird watching, fishing, boating, camping, jet skiing, hiking and swimming. Best yet, the park is located along an actual large bend in the river, offering up unique views of Bullhead City across the river, and dramatic views of the surrounding mountains. Because the park is located just a few miles downstream of Davis Dam, the river is clear and cool year round. The park encompasses two miles of shoreline and riparian areas, along with panoramic viewpoints and rock formations.
Aside from the river-related activities, the on-site campground includes a new 24-unit RV campground with full utility hookups, restrooms, and an RV dump station.
ADMISSION & FEES
Admission to Big Bend of the Colorado is $10.00. Big Bend boasts a 24-unit campground that is accessible year round, for $20.00 per night. All sites are offered on a first-come, first-served basis—sites may not be reserved. All sites are designed to accommodate RVs with hook-ups for water, electric and sewer. In addition, most of the sites have pull-through parking pads that can accommodate any size RV. The sites are also equipped with a tent pad, shade ramada, barbeque grill and fire pit. Three of the sites are ADA equipped and available for those visitors with the proper ADA permit. Best yet, this campground incldues restroom and shower facilities. For the most up to date information on hours, campsite availability and entry fees, please click here.
From the Laughlin Visitors Center, head south on South Casino Drive for about 7 miles. Make left hand turn (so you’re headed southbound) on Needles Highway and continue south for about 1 mile. The park will be on your left hand side.