The peaceful flow of the Colorado River through pastel desert contrasts sharply with the clanging of one-armed bandits just inside casino doors along the river's western bank in Laughlin, Nevada. While some visitors come to the city for the sole purpose of gambling, about 75 percent come to spend time enjoying the warm desert climate. Maximize your outdoor time by camping in a tent in one of several areas just outside the city.
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Just on the other side of the Colorado River across the Bullhead Parkway Bridge, Davis Camp provides the closest place to the casinos to set up your tent. Pitch your tent along the sandy shore of the Colorado and rinse off at the end of the day in one of eight shower facilities situated throughout this Mohave County park. Relax on one of the park's sandy swimming beaches, take kids for a dip in the children's wading area or cast your line from the fishing pier. You can rent a personal watercraft at the park or put your own boat in the water at the boat launch.
Big Bend of the Colorado State Park lies 5 miles south of town on the Nevada side of the river. The park's 24-site campground provides shared spaces for tents and RVs. Each site comes equipped with a shaded ramada, fire ring and barbecue grill. You can hike 4 miles of trail winding through developed portions of the park or head off to explore areas not yet developed. The park lies along the shores of the Colorado River with river access at a man-made lagoon shielding you from the river's current as you put your boat in the water.
If rugged back-country adventure appeals to you, hike the Bureau of Land Management lands that border the river and pitch a tent for up to 14 days. One scenic trail 7 miles west of Laughlin winds into Grapevine Canyon, passing petroglyphs, several waterfalls and large hollow areas in the rock where you can get in and get wet. On the Arizona side of the river, the Sleeping Princess OHV trail heads into the Black Mountains 10 miles northwest of Bullhead City. The 27-mile challenging rock trail gives you unparalleled views of the river and mountains en route to the summit. The other side houses an old homestead, a nearly hidden waterfall with underground water cave and juniper-dotted grassland.
Think It Over
Weather is a primary consideration when camping in a tent around Laughlin. Any time of year is nice if you spend time on the water, although summer days can exceed 110 Fahrenheit and may not cool down under 100 on the hottest nights. Summer monsoons bring thunder, lightning and high winds, along with creepy creatures such as scorpions and tarantulas that emerge from dens to eat and breed. Spring and autumn are ideal for backpacking, with days in the 80s and nights in the 60s and prolific wildflowers during both seasons. Nights during the coldest months rarely dip down to freezing and other than a couple of weeks in late January, days are sunny and in the mid-60s.