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Camp, picnic or bird-watch at bend along river

Big Bend of the Colorado State Recreation Area is at the southern tip of Nevada, along the Colorado River, about 6 miles south of Laughlin. It’s a great place to visit, even for a day trip, as it’s not too far from Boulder City, about 85 miles away.

At an elevation of around 500 feet, expect temperatures to be about 5 to 10 degrees warmer than Las Vegas, making it a good destination all winter.

The park is a relatively new one for Nevada, established in 1996. It encompasses about 2,100 acres in the foothills of the Newberry Mountains.

While there is a 4-mile network of hiking trails here, it’s mostly the river that takes center stage. The park boasts about 2 miles of shoreline and you will find sandy beaches to swim from, a two-lane boat launching area with large parking area, and plenty of places to fish from the riverbanks.

The main beach is half-moon shaped and forms a lagoon, so swimming is easier here than elsewhere along the Colorado, with its strong current. The swift water of the Colorado River is great for speedboats and jet skis but the shallow backwaters found in the area offer a more peaceful excursion and can be explored in a kayak or canoe.

Along the shore are covered ramadas for shade, and picnic sites, many with picnic tables and grills. There is a public restroom.

Wildlife here includes plenty of waterfowl, such as geese, ducks and herons, along the shoreline. Throughout the park are other birds such as raptors, roadrunners, quail, hummingbirds and a wide variety of songbirds. Mammals found here include fox, raccoon, beaver, muskrat and bighorn sheep.

The park offers 24 camp sites that are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Each site has a tent pad, water, sewer, and electricity; most have pull-through RV parking. The sites do have fire pits and grills but currently all state parks are under fire restrictions, so bring your own camp stove.

The park is open to day use from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. through February. From March through May it remains open until 6 p.m. Day use fees are $10 per vehicle and $10 for the boat launch. Camping is $20 per night or $30 per night with utility hookups.

Its location makes Big Bend a good base camp for day trips to such attractions as the preserved mining town of Oatman, Arizona; the remains of Fort Piute, a tiny military outpost that guarded the Mojave Road in frontier times; and Laughlin, Nevada, with its casinos and restaurants.

For more information regarding the park, and to get any last-minute updates before you set out, contact 702-298-1859 or www.parks.nv.gov.

Many of Deborah Wall’s columns have been compiled into books about hiking in the Southwest. 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.

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