Friday, September 23, 2011

Trip Report: Laughlin, Nevada, September 18 - 22, 2011

Donna and I enjoy gambling from time to time. One gambling locale we've wanted to visit for several years is Laughlin, Nevada. We finally got a chance to visit this hot spot in southern Nevada on a recent 5 day/4 night trip.

Don Laughlin's Riverside Casino offers various travel packages from numerous cities around the country. Fortunately, San Angelo is one of these. For a very low fare, we were able to book round-trip flight aboard Sun Country Airlines and 4 nights at the Riverside Hotel.

Riverside Hotel and Casino in right foreground; other resorts in left background

Laughlin is located in southern Nevada along the west bank of the Colorado River. The airport is just across the river in Bullhead City, Arizona. Laughlin is a relatively small community with fewer than 10,000 residents, while Bullhead City is quite a bit larger, perhaps 35,000 or so. Down the river are numerous other neighboring communities, such as Fort Mohave, Arizona, and Needles, California.

Don Laughlin founded the community of Laughlin in the mid-1960s. His life story is quite interesting; it is one of those inspiring American success stories. Mr. Laughlin is still alive and well and is very active in the day-to-day management of his Riverside Casino and Resort.

Since the founding of Laughlin, other casinos have moved in to cash in on its success. Today, there are several casinos lining the Nevada side of the river. They include (in ABC order):
Numerous casinos line the west bank of the Colorado River in Laughlin

Aquarius (right) and Edgewater (left). The Aquarius during our trip had the best video poker games in Laughlin. Note the river taxi.
In addition to gaming, these casinos/resorts provide many other services. Each property normally provides several dining options ranging from low end (MacDonalds, Subway, etc.) to fine dining. They also provide all kinds of entertainment, from big name acts (Vince Gill, ZZ Top, etc.) to anything else available, including comedy. Most of the entertainment caters to older people for Laughlin is considered by many to be an "old Vegas" town.

In addition to gambling, Donna and I walked the entire River Walk from the Riverside (north end) to River Palms (south end). Harrahs is located just south of River Palms, but the River Walk is not complete to Harrahs. It is a long walk, so after making that trek and visiting all the casinos along the way, we rode a water taxi back to our hotel.

Donna on the Laughlin Riverwalk. Across the river is Arizona.

We also took a boat tour aboard the U.S.S. Riverside, which took us from our hotel north to the Davis Dam and then back south to the cove where Harrah's is located. The tour is professionally done, and the information provided about the area is interesting and entertaining.

The U. S. S. Riverside

Davis Dam and spillway gates, up river from Laughlin

Harrahs is considered by many to have the best locatino of all casinos in Laughlin. It is situated on a cove of the Colorado River on a bit of a hill. It also has a private beach for its guests.
From our hotel, we enjoyed a wonderful view of the Colorado River and the Arizona landscape to the east. The mountains in that area are rugged and jagged, looking something like broken teeth on a saw. A lot of people would say that such a landscape is barren and boring (in fact, I overheard one of our fellow travelers call it a "no man's land"), but Donna and I really enjoy the desert. It also reminded us a great deal of the areas where we lived in Saudi Arabia in the 1980s.

Jagged peaks of Arizona desert mountains across the river from our hotel

Donna and I loved the river, and we really enjoyed our river tour. We were impressed by the clarity of the river. Even at the deepest part of the channel, you could see the bottom. The current was strong, too. In a local newspaper article I read while there, I saw an item that indicated the current was 8 mph. All day long, people were on the river, either swimming, boating, kayaking, or zipping about on jet skis. There are numerous river tours, some as long as 6 hours and going as far as Lake Havasu where the London Bridge is located.

We are already planning our next trip to Laughlin, but this time we hope to drive so that we can see the country more up close and personal. Regardless, Laughlin is definitely a place we want to return to.

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