Giant Rabbits and an Off Road Nail Biter in Nevada
Welcome to Nevada, Laughlin style.
We spent some time in Bullhead City, AZ before crossing over into Laughlin. The town of Bullhead City is relatively new, established in the mid-1900s, however, it is built on the site that once was a town called Hardy in the mid to late 1800s.
Many of Bullhead City's residents are employed across the Colorado River in Laughlin, a gambling mecca in Nevada. Laughlin got its start by Vegas Club owner Don Laughlin, who purchased South Point, the name given to the southern tip of Nevada, in 1964. Laughlin opened the Riverside Resort and the small town expanded its gambling operations from there.
However, it looked pretty bleak for the gaming industry during our visit. We saw more than one of what appeared to be closed casinos, including the Colorado Belle. Like many others, the Belle was ordered closed by the State during the early part of the 2020 Pandemic, and shortly after announced that they would remain closed for good.
We did see some active gambling, including Laughlin's original Riverside Hotel & Casino, but not the crowds we would have expected during a normal year.
Also along our Path:
The town that built Boulder Dam
Greetings Earthlings. We aren't big gamblers anymore, so on to more fun history in Nevada. Our next stop was Boulder City, the town that built Boulder Dam...or, was it the dam that built the town?
Hoover Dam, NV - Bronze SculptureSteven Liguoria's 1995 bronze sculpture, at Hoover Dam, of Joe Kine, one of the last surviving high scalers who worked on the dam project in the early 1930s. The massive Hoover Dam straddles the border between Arizona and Nevada in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River. Photo by Carol Highsmith.
Hoover Dam, NV - ViewAbove Hoover Dam near Boulder City, Nevada. Hoover Dam, once known as Boulder Dam, is a concrete arch-gravity dam in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River, on the border between the US states of Arizona and Nevada. It was constructed between 1931 and 1936 during the Great Depression and was dedicated on September 30, 1935, by President Franklin Roosevelt. Its construction was the result of a massive effort involving thousands of workers, and cost over one hundred lives. The dam was controversially named in honor of President Herbert Hoover. Photo by Carol Highsmith.
Interesting side note; Hoover was in office during the construction, and his Secretary of the Interior had named it Hoover Dam then, but that hadn't been done for a sitting president before, so when Roosevelt took office in 1933 his administration renamed it back to what was originally considered, Boulder Dam. The renaming of the Dam back to Hoover in 1947 is still controversial, depending on your political lens.
Ahh, quirky and fun Boulder City. Dead Cows on sale here at this corner joint toward one end of Nevada Way. We assume that's leather, but who knows. Many enjoy strolling down Nevada Way for a touch of nostalgia and fun shopping.
We got a kick out of the quirkiness. While you are in this area, be sure to visit the Boulder City-Hoover Dam Museum, just off Nevada Way on Arizona St in the historic Boulder Dam Hotel.
The hotel, built in 1933, preserves the classic style of the era and still offers 21 rooms for accommodations. Today it is listed on the National Register of Historic places, as well as much of downtown Boulder City.
Walk with me for a moment in Bootleg Canyon.
On the outskirts of Boulder City, you'll find some fun outdoor recreation at Boulder City's Nature Discovery Trail and Rock Garden.
The trail is part of Boulder City's Municipal Park in Bootleg Canyon. It's a fun, paved, and educational 1800 feet path with interesting factoids about the creatures exhibited.
Bootleg Canyon is also great for Biking enthusiasts, and we saw many while we were there on provided bike trails.
Dry Camping at Boulder Beach
Boulder Beach CampDry camping at Boulder Beach
Boulder Beach has an RV Park with hookups, but we opted for the Campground next door. This area has been frequented since Lake Mead was created, and over time the campground was improved. Just within the past decade or so, level pads were poured, and other improvements made, to attract RV'ers like us. There is potable water available throughout the campground, and if you are lucky enough, you might get a spot within your hose length.
Take note this is a first come first serve Campground. We got there around 10 am on a weekday and found several open.
What used to be the town of St. Thomas found itself at the bottom of Lake Mead after Boulder Dam was built. A former Mormon settlement established in 1865, the town thrived as a stopping point between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles. Funny thing though, the Mormon settlers thought they were still in Utah/Arizona Territories, and several years later Nevada state authorities demanded they pay 5 years of back taxes. The Mormons refused and instead abandoned the town, burning down their houses, with the exception of one family.
Then in the 1880s, new settlers began farming the rich soil, and St. Thomas came back to life. Its peak population was around 500, and despite no indoor plumbing or electricity, life was happy in the little town. That was until the building of Boulder Dam, at which point the Government bought them out and told them to relocate. After Lake Mead reached its high water mark, St. Thomas lay 60 feet below the surface. Today you can take a trail hike to the site which is accessible due to the low water level.
There is so much more we didn't see around Lake Mead, but we highly recommend a visit if you are into relaxation and water fun. Visit the National Parks Lake Mead web pages for more information on various campgrounds and lake activities.
Read more about the history of this area in our article "The Ghosts of Lake Mead"
On our way through this time, we continued down Las Vegas Boulevard toward parts we haven't ventured before.
You can tell the Pandemic has had a major impact on Vegas, but there were still areas with plenty of willing tourists with money to burn.
We found this quirky statue near Freemont St.
Las Vegas Eat MoreOverweight? You get a bonus in Vegas.
Speaking of which, we drove by the Freemont Experience and see that if you weigh over 350 pounds, you can eat for free. Ahh, Vegas. See our article here about Sin City.
Back to nature in the Valley of Fire!
LOA at the Valley of FireValley of Fire, Nevada
On our way out of Boulder Beach, we journeyed through Lake Mead National Recreation Area and found the Valley of Fire State Park.
Valley of Fire, AZA road through the Valley of Fire, AZ
Valley of Fire, Vegas Side EntryValley of Fire, Vegas Side Entry
Fortunately for us, we entered from the Lake Meade side. This is what we saw coming out on the Vegas Side that Sunday Afternoon. Needless to say, Valley of Fire State Park is a popular destination. Plan ahead and visit their website for more information.
They take their Aliens seriously in Nevada.
ET Highway Crystal Springs, NVET Highway Crystal Springs, NV
We found our way back over to Highway 93, and took a northerly route for a few days parked in Alamo, Nevada. We found more quirkiness not far north from there at the ghost town of Crystal Springs. That's where the Extraterrestial Highway (375) splits off and takes you to Area 51 Basecamp.
Earth Station Crystal SpringsEarth Station Crystal Springs
Actually, it's the Alien Research Center, a gift shop with all things Alien and more. We understand this was used as a base camp for "Storm Area 51", a 2019 ill-advised plan for hundreds to rush the gates of Area 51, an off-limits military area known for its legends of otherworldly craft. Although an associated festival drew over 1,000, only about 150 took part in the planned raid, and luckily only 7 were arrested. Even luckier, no one was shot. Read more about the Extraterrestrial Highway in our article here.
Crystal Springs, now just a highway intersection and a few homes, was used as a watering place and campsite on an alternate route for the Mormon Trail back in the mid-1800s. It was the provisional County Seat for Lincoln County in 1866, but when Governor Henry Blasdel along with 20 people decided to venture from Carson City with the intention of organizing Lincoln County, they found there were not enough voters for an official county. A year later the Lincoln County government was organized in nearby Hiko.
During Blasdel's trip to the area, they made their way through Death Valley and ended up without supplies and food. One man died and others survived on lizards and other desert animals. So the Governor and another man raced to Logan City for supplies to get them to Crystal Springs.
This brings us to our own journey to the Ghost Town of Logan City.
Petroglyphs on the Way to Logan CityPetroglyphs on the Way to Logan City
If you take Highway 318 out of Crystal Springs, and up to Nesbitt Lake, there is a dirt road through BLM land called Logan Canyon Road. You really should map it first, as you might not see it from the highway. A gate is at the entrance that asks you to close it on your way through. Hope you are in a high clearance vehicle with four-wheel drive for this adventure.
As you near the Mt. Irish Wilderness, you'll find areas of Petroglyphs like the ones pictured above. There are some BLM markers nearby to help you find them, so be on the lookout.
View from Logan City Ghost TownView from Logan City Ghost Town
After a jaunt of about 9 miles (that takes over 20 minutes), up into the mountains, we finally reached Logan City, which has quite the view.
Logan City Ghost Town, Mt Irish WildernessLogan City Ghost Town, Mt Irish Wilderness
The mining town was established in 1865 with the discovery of silver on the eastern slope of Mount Irish.
Logan City Ghost Town, Mt Irish WildernessLogan City Ghost Town, Mt Irish Wilderness
Within a few months of setting up, the mining camp had a population of over 100, and by 1867 it grew to 300 when a mill was built in Hiko in the valley below. That year it also gained a post office. The mining town declined in 1869 due to the silver veins lacking depth, and new discoveries in Pioche. Today, Logan City and Mount Irish Wilderness are frequented by off-road vehicles and hikers.
MtIrishWildernessPassHigh in the Mt. Irish Wilderness
We're neither OHV (off-highway vehicle), or hikers, but our Ford F-150 was getting the job done. Instead of going back the way we came, we decided to try to find another ghost town on the other side of the mountain, so up we continued, on some pretty questionable road. The picture above is about the time Kathy was saying "No More Unknown Roads!" I was trying not to look, and keep my eye on the narrow path with nothing but a steep drop next to me. That red X marks the spot where we left Highway 318 onto the BLM Road. It took us what seemed like hours to go all the way back down and to ET Highway 375.
Note to self, don't worry Kathy with little tidbits like "I hope we have enough gas", or "sure don't want to change a flat on this mountain." Stress can lead to an awfully quiet ride back to the RV.
Next, we mosey up to Caliente and explore Pioche.
Cya on the road! - Dave
We're traveling with "HearHere" a travel audio app for your phone that shares the depth and diversity of stories - cultural, geographical, historical, and mythological - hidden along the roads of America. Legends of America is proud to partner with HearHere. Stay tuned for some of our stories to appear on the app soon.
While in Alamo, Nevada, we stayed at Picketts RV Park, in the heart of the Pahranagat Valley. An enjoyable stay with a grocery store and gas station next door. Management was very accommodating. It's a small RV Park but seemed to be busy with many OHV travelers using it as a base for off-road adventures. They offer large pull-through sites capable of serving rigs up to 90 feet, full hook-ups 30/50 amp, cable TV, Great WiFi, modern bathrooms with tub and shower, a small laundry facility in the office, Propane sales, and a dump station.
Keywords: Area 51, Boulder Beach, Boulder City, Crystal Springs, Echo Bay, Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, Las Vegas, Laughlin, Logan City Ghost Town, Mount Irish, St. Thomas, Valley of Fire
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