Friday, March 1, 2013

On the Road: Laughlin, NV, to Las Vegas, NV

We're back in San Angelo now, so I'll try to catch up and post a few entries about our recent trip.

On Monday, February 18, we left Laughlin, Nevada, for a week in Las Vegas. The drive from Laughlin to Vegas is really a pleasant one, with good roadways. It is just under 100 miles, with all of it on 4 lanes or more. It's a good highway to just slow down and take in the landscape.

Laughlin to Vegas

The trip begins with getting on Highway 163 for a 20 mile drive to connect with US Highway 95. Highway 163 heads west from the Colorado River and the casinos lining it, climbing the Newberry Mountains. Spirit Mountain, the highest peak in this range, rises to 5,642 feet.

This photo was taken along Highway 163 a few miles out of Laughlin. It is probably about halfway up the slope of the Newberry Mountains, and is the last view of Laughlin. The picture shows the mountains in the east in Arizona, and clearly illustrates how Laughlin lies low in a valley.

After cresting the ridge of the mountains, there is a short and slight slope downward before the highway intersects with US Highway 95. A small housing community is on the west side of the road, along with a convenience store/gas station. Just north of the intersection is a rest area with facilities on the east side of the highway. It is modern and well planned, and a good place to stop and stretch your legs.

A few miles farther on is a small community typical of rural Nevada. On the east side of the highway is an RV park, while on the west is a casino. A few houses also line the west side of the road. The name of the place is Cal-Nev-Ari, which is a syllabic abbreviation of the states California, Nevada, and Arizona. Almost anywhere in Nevada where there are a few houses, you can usually find a casino. About 200 people make this community home.

Next up the road is Searchlight, Nevada, which is an old mining town. It has at least 2 casinos and a few other businesses, such as a McDonald's. If you drive through this area, please note the drastic drop in the speed limit from 70 MPH to about 30 MPH in a very short distance. Local law enforcement had a car stopped when we came through.

Desert landscape just north of Searchlight

Joshua Tree just north of Searchlight

Just north of Searchlight, the snow-capped peak of Mount Charleston comes into view. At 11,916 feet, it is the tallest of the southern Nevada mountains. It is located just west of Las Vegas, and provides an area for winter sports for the greater Las Vegas area.

Just south of the intersection of US 95 with US 93, a large solar farm appears along the west side of the highway. The light plays off the panels such that at first the area appears like a large body of silvery water. It is not until you get near that you can actually see the rows of panels reflecting the bright sunlight off the desert floor.

Solar farm south of Las Vegas
We then join Highway 93, which goes from Las Vegas to cross the Hoover Dam and continue on to Kingman, Arizona. Known locally as the Boulder Highway, this highway takes us straight to our destination, Sam's Town.

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