Headquarters: Laughlin

A Mini Sin City on the Colorado River

Laughlin's 20 miles off the Route, but it can make a convenient base for visiting road-trippers. Rooms can be had for under $20, and there are low-buck buffets all over town. It's all subsidized by gambling. Chow loses something on a steam table, but it's hot and you'll give the chef four stars for quantity. If you have a cast-iron stomach and don't gamble you can make out like a bandit king, riding the open road all day and returning to the lap of luxury in the evening. Keep in mind, you'll have to be sharp to get a good deal here - there's more than one way to get fleeced and Sin City knows 'em all. But that's a sporting proposition in itself. See the textbook "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas", by Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, for a review of the fine points.

The Avi hotel and casino, on the Fort Mohave reservation, is 12 miles south of Laughlin and that much closer to 66. See the "Resources" page for Laughlin hotel websites and phone numbers.

Some people don't know a good deal when they see it, though. For an honest review of Laughlin by a complete innocent, click here.

If you'd rather camp under the stars than hassle with the hotel hustle, there are plenty of good spots along the way. Let's ride.

The Colorado flows like liquid gold along Laughlin's riverfront.

Routes From Laughlin to 66

There are four ways to reach Route 66 from Laughlin:
First, most popular, and least pleasant, is to head north on Casino Drive and take the bridge into Bullhead City. It's used most because it's the quickest way out of Nevada to the free state of Arizona, where helmets are optional. The drawback is a 10-mile ride through stripmall traffic on Highway 95. Unless you need to do some shopping, there are better ways.

Second is to head south on Casino Drive to Needles Highway. Turn left and you'll be on a rural two-lane road on the bluffs above the river's old floodplain, riding south and enjoying the view. 12 miles down the road you'll see the turn-off for the Avi casino. Take it. Pass the casino on your left, cross the bridge into Arizona, and take the first right. This road straightens out and aims for the mountains. It's 15 miles to Route 66 and 18 to Oatman.

The third route is for rough-roadsters only. It's scenic and lightly traveled, but the last road rider I saw there was almost in tears - and he was only half-way up. It'll be covered in "Roads and Trails in the River Range" next month.

Fourth is the longest and maybe the best: Ride through Needles, cross the Colorado at Topock, and get on Route 66 at Arizona mile 1. It's a fifty mile run from Laughlin to Oatman via Topock, and it's good riding. Let's vamoose!

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joe@gazette9.com

Oatman via Needles and Topock

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