80°F
weather icon Clear

Big Bend’s myriad activities make it a must-see place

Big Bend of the Colorado State Recreation Area should be considered a must-see place by every outdoor person in the metropolitan Las Vegas area. Handily located at the southern tip of Nevada, the park was established in 1996, directly on the Colorado River south of Laughlin’s Casino Drive.

The river, of course, takes center stage in the park. You can just hang out on sandy beaches, swim, picnic, fish along the banks, bird watch or even launch your boat for a day on the river. The park has about 2 miles of shoreline including some riparian areas, although when away from the water, much of the park is forested with mesquite and invasive tamarisk.

Swimming is especially good here, with areas set off from the river’s main channel providing safety from the strong current. And clean inland water, free of sea salt and chlorine, is a pleasure in itself.

This is a trip better made in late winter or early spring than in summer. It will be warmer here than in the Las Vegas area, perhaps by 5 to 10 degrees, as the elevation is only 500 feet or so. Expect daily high temperatures in the 70s and low 80s over the next month.

Bird watching is excellent here. Great blue herons often walk the shoreline seeking an easy snack, hawks soar over the canyons to the west looking for food and phainopepla seek out the bright red berries of the desert mistletoe, a parasitic plant that grows prolifically in the mesquite. Besides these avian celebrities, you’ll see a wide variety of waterfowl as well as songbirds.

The park contains a network of about 4 miles of hiking trails, ranging from the paved 0.2-mile Riverside Loop to the natural sand surface of the 1.4-mile Big Sandy Loop.

For more adventure head to the west side of the Needles Highway, across from the entrance station. Here you will find excellent canyons to explore.

There are no established trails in these rugged hills, but that makes them all the more interesting. You might even see some desert bighorn sheep, which frequent this area.

While the main channel here, the Colorado River, is popular with speedboats and jet skis, the many shallow backwaters along the banks lend themselves to close inspection with a kayak or canoe.

The campground has 24 sites, available on a first-come, first-served basis. All are equipped with hookups for water, electric and sewer and most can accommodate the largest recreational vehicle. Each site also has a space for tent camping, a shade ramada, a barbecue grill and a fire pit. There are also bathroom and shower facilities.

Day use is $9 per vehicle, with an additional charge of $15 if you launch a boat. Camping is either $20 or $26 per night, the latter figure including a boat launch. There’s an additional $10 charge if you use the RV hookups. Nevada residents receive $2 off most fees.

The park is at 4220 S. Needles Highway, Laughlin.

For more information, call 702 298-1859.

Many of Deborah Wall’s columns have been compiled in the book “Base Camp Las Vegas, Hiking the Southwestern States.” She is also the author of “Great Hikes, a Cerca Country Guide” and a co-author of the book “Access For All, Seeing the Southwest With Limited Mobility.” Wall can be reached at Deborabus@aol.com.

Directions

From Boulder City take U.S. Highway 95, passing through Searchlight, for 53 miles. Turn left in Palm Gardens onto State Route 163, also known as Laughlin Highway. Follow for 16 miles and turn right on Needles Highway and continue south 5.4 miles to Big Bend of the Colorado State Recreation Area, at 4220 S. Needles Highway.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
Gilliam eyes career with MLB

Establishing his place as one of the top players in Nevada as only a sophomore, Boulder City High School baseball star Jet Gilliam has verbally committed to California State University, Long Beach.

Travel team puts baseball players on college scout’s radar

Jet Gilliam and Seth Graham-Pippen, sophomores at Boulder City High School and future stars of its baseball program, have carved out their own their futures playing this summer with Nevada’s Prep Baseball Report travel team.

Eagles athletes win baseball tourney

The Southern Nevada Eagles 18u team from Boulder City won the Rocky Mountain School of Baseball’s Labor Day tournament in Salt Lake City.

Wupatki provides glimpse into Pueblos’ ancestors

Wupatki National Monument in Arizona is about a 45-minute drive east of Flagstaff. The park boasts 35,000 acres, encompassing roughly 2,500 documented archaeological sites. While you won’t be able to see them all or even be allowed to, it’s worth a trip here to see the highlights, and it’s a good time to go. The elevation of the park is about 4,700 feet so weather forecasts call for average daily highs in the 80s through most of September.

Ely offers cool respite from scorching heat

Sick of the scorching Southern Nevada summer? Ely is a wonderful escape destination this time of year to enjoy outdoor activities and visit historic sites at pleasant temperatures.

Grothe named to national swim team; sets sights on Olympics

Making perhaps one last effort at a life-long dream, Zane Grothe, a 2010 Boulder City High School graduate, was named to the U.S. National Team where he’ll compete for an opportunity at the 2021 Olympic Games.

Sierras home to Devil’s Postpile

Mammoth Lakes, California, in the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains, is the jumping-off place to visit Devil’s Postpile National Monument. The monument was established in 1911 to preserve a rare columnar basalt formation, as well as other natural features.

Westcliff has ‘Wright’ stuff for volleyball star

Boulder City High School senior Ava Wright, a star on the girls volleyball team, has solidified her place as a future collegiate athlete, committing to National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics program Westcliff University in Irvine, California.

Orton to head to Arkansas

Boulder City High School senior girls volleyball star Sierra Orton has found her collegiate home for the next four seasons, committing to Arkansas Tech University.

Remote wildlife refuge offers beauty, diversity

If you are a wildlife photographer, aspire to become one or simply enjoy a very remote place “where the wild things are,” consider investing some of this long summer in a visit to Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge in extreme northwest Nevada.