Journey with Kileen

Journey with Kileen: Laughlin, NV; the Colorado River; and the Dams of the Desert South

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Did you know there are only 7 bridges in a 750 mile section of the Colorado River?  This is because the terrain is so harsh.  After 9/11 they started building another bridge next to the Hoover Dam (but far enough away so a large vehicle would not contain a bomb and blow up the dam).  They started in 2002 and finished in 2012.  That gives you an idea how hard it is to build in the area even with today's technology.

Everyone knows about the Hoover Dam and Lake Mead that backs up to it.  But farther north is Page, AZ and there the Glen Canyon Dam (only 16 feet shorter than Hoover Dam) backs up Lake Powell.  Lake Powell was named after John Wesley Powell, a one-arm Civil War soldier who was the first known white man to boat down the Colorado River to the Grand Canyon.

The Colorado River is extremely important in the desert Southwest.  It supplies much of the water to Arizona and California.  Therefore they have built the dams for water supply and flood control, and down by my son's home in Yuma, AZ irrigation makes Yuma the winter vegetable capitol of the US.

It took years to fill Lake Mead and Lake Powell and they are several hundred feet deep.  Obviously the depth depends on the Colorado winter snows and is crucial for providing water to the desert areas.

A lesser known dam is the Davis Dam, backed up by Lake Mohave, which is just south of Las Vegas.  This is where the town (if you can call it a town) of Laughlin, NV sits and across the river its sister city Bullhead City, AZ (often called the hot spot of the nation–because of the summer heat).

One more “dam” fact.  If you continue south you will get to Lake Havasu which was created by the Parker Dam.  Lake Havasu is not only a great recreational area but is also famous for London Bridge.  Yes, they brought London Bridge here and assembled it piece by piece in 1964.  And there is even a quaint English village with shops and restaurants found under part of the bridge.  

All of these areas including Lake Powell, Lake Mead, Lake Mohave and Lake Havasu have rocky cliffs, sandy beaches, and blue/green water.  It is perfect for boating, swimming, hiking and all types of recreational pleasures.

I recently drove from Wisconsin to Arizona and made a stop in Laughlin to meet my brother.  There are several large casinos that sit along the banks of the river– some with over a thousand rooms.  I think they wanted the area to become a mini Vegas but that was only a dream when Don Laughlin started the Riverside Casino back in 1964. — You can read a history of Don Laughlin and his casino if you goggle him.–

Laughlin started out serving chicken dinners for ninety eight cents and the rest is history.  Due to the recreational activities in the area the town has survived.  They were badly hurt when Indian gaming started in Arizona and California but today they have reasonably priced entertainment–Jay and the Americans were there when I was– and during the week you can get rooms for $20 and not much more on weekends.  (I paid $21.00 for Harrah's on a Sunday night).

There are quite a few places to visit when you are in the area.  You don't want to miss London Bridge or the town of Oatman, an historic gold mining town.  There is a classic car collection at the Riverside Casino and you are a hop, skip and jump from Kingman, which is on Route 66.  You can follow Route 66 east (actually along I-40) up to Williams and either drive or take the train to the Grand Canyon.  In the winter the train runs a Polar Express to see Santa with cookies and hot chocolate provided as well as the reading of the Chris Van Allsburg classic story of the North Pole.  The amazing thing in this area is you can go from winter snow to warm desert in just a few hours.

As you continue back towards Kingman don't forget to stop for lunch in Seligman, AZ.   I stopped on tour with my motor coach once.  We had a great lunch at “The Roadkill Café.”  Oh so much to see and do in this area.


Editor's note: To read in depth about the Seattle, WA area, check out Kileen's book, “Journey Beckons.” You can order it through her website (as well as preview the first few chapters) at or you can order it through Amazon either in book form or the kindle edition. 

Happy to say that Kileen has been very busy. Her latest book, “Journey To Port” is now also available through Amazon/kindle, and it's also in book form through Amazon. Also, on her website (, you can both preview a few chapters as well as order the book.

Have questions? Kileen would be happy to hear from you at

Kileen Prather has been a Tour Manager since 1997. Her exciting career takes her to between thirty-five to forty states a year. According to Kileen, there aren’t too many places in the US that she hasn’t visited. She absolutely loves traveling and meeting so many wonderful people from all over. In her column for After Fifty Living, Journey With Kileen, she shares her favorite places and talks about the different means of travel, whether you care to go by car, boat, train or motorcoach (bus).

Kileen is also the author of five books. If you’d like to learn about the Seattle area in depth, check out her book, “Journey Beckons.” You can order it through her website (as well as preview the first few chapters) at or you can order it through Amazon either in book form or the kindle edition. Her latest book, “Journey To Port” is now also available through Amazon Kindle. You can preview a few chapters of this book, also, on her website (

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