The ever-growing border town of Laughlin is home to 11 hotel-casinos that offer visitors gaming, shows, and bountiful buffets on the banks of the Colorado River.
Laughlin is 90 miles south of Las Vegas near the southern corner of Nevada and within 40 miles of Interstate 40 and U.S 95 and 93. The casino town is located a mile below Davis Dam and Lake Mohave, which are part of Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Across the river is the Arizona town of Bullhead City. (Bullhead City runs one hour later than Laughlin from October to April.) Needles, California, is 35 miles south.
Casino gaming is the major attraction at Laughlin, which was founded in the mid-1960s and experienced tremendous growth in the 1980s. Today the resorts along Casino Drive stretch more than a mile along the Colorado River from Don Laughlin's Riverside, the area's first hotel-casino, to Harrah's Laughlin. In between are such resorts as the Golden Nugget Laughlin, Pioneer, Edgewater, Colorado Belle, Ramada Express, River Palms, and Flamingo Laughlin.
The casinos present all the Nevada games, and several showrooms enhance the nightlife. The hotels frequently host special concerts by major stars.
The area's warm southern climate produces pleasant weather in fall, winter, and spring. Although summer temperatures reach above 110, there is no need for visitors to skip a beat thanks to air-conditioning and water sports.
Indeed, water is a key recreational focus in Laughlin. Anglers, waterskiers, and boaters enjoy the blue waters of Lake Mohave. Visitors will find boat rentals and restaurant dining at Lake Mohave Resort, at Katherine's Landing on the Arizona side, two miles north of Laughlin. Water lovers also can ski or boat on the Colorado River near the hotels. Downstream is Big Bend of the Colorado State Recreation Area.
Several sidewheelers and other tour boats offer rides on the river. The ships, which dock in front of the casinos, offer group excursions.
Golfers can play the links at the Mojave Resort and Emerald River Golf courses. Emerald River is an 18-hole championship course, which has several holes that border the river, and one of the state's most challenging.
Laughlin's central location offers easy access to the living ghost town of Oatman, Arizona, 30 miles southeast on Route 66, and Lake Havasu and the London Bridge, 67 miles south on the Colorado River.
The tiny roadside hamlet of Searchlight is a classic Western boom-and-bust mining town. The town's name is said to have been taken from a remark by founder George F. Colton, who said it would take a searchlight to find gold in the area. Miners hit paydirt in the 1890s, and by 1907 the community was the largest city in Southern Nevada, claiming 5,000 people. The boom lasted until 1916 before the mines played out.
Located 46 miles south of Las Vegas, Searchlight is a natural stop for visitors on their way to Laughlin. A small museum offers insight into the area's past and its most famous early residents ‚ among them Hollywood costume designer Edith Head and film stars Rex Bell and Clara Bow.