Big Bend of the Colorado State Recreation Area

Established in 1996, Big Bend of the Colorado State Recreation Area contains 2,100 acres of low hills, sandy washes, bush-covered flats and patches of marshland alongside the Colorado River in far south Nevada – 7 miles from Laughlin and directly opposite Bullhead City in Arizona, in an otherwise undeveloped region bordered by extensive empty desert to the west. The place is not particularly scenic, not really a destination for hiking or photography, but instead is very popular for recreation, year round, principally picnicking, boating, jetskiing, swimming, sunbathing, fishing and bird watching. Avian species resident here include geese, mallards, quail, coots and herons.

Most of the river shoreline (2 miles) is sandy, and the water is clean and clear since it originates from the lower reaches of Lake Mojave beyond Davis Dam, 8 miles upstream, and the park is equally busy in summer as in winter even though the temperatures regularly exceed 110°F. The park has a campground and is crossed by several not-so-interesting trails through the bushy areas close to the river.

Map of the Recreation Area

The recreation area is reached by the Needles Highway, between Hwy 163 near Laughlin (5 miles) and Needles in California (21 miles). The majority of the preserve lies inland, west of the road, in the foothills of the Newberry Mountains; a sizeable expanse of rocky ridges split by branched, dry washes, lacking any trails though open to cross-country exploration. All facilities though are in the narrower strip of land to the east, between the road and river. A paved road (Flager Lane) leads to the main parking area, and a promontory, while three lesser roads reach other parts of the shoreline. The two most popular sandy sections of the shore are either side of the parking area; that to the south is named Savage Beach.

The park entrance fee is $10 per vehicle. The campground, quite near the road and out-of-sight of the river, has 24 full-hookup sites, suitable for any size of RV; fees $20 per night. There are five trails in the park; the Sandy Loop (0.4 miles) and Big Sandy Loop (1.4 miles) circle bushy land away from the river, the Conservation Trail (0.9 miles) crosses similar terrain between the campground and an alternative parking area to the south, the 0.6 mile Fishermans Point Trail leads to the end of a narrow promontory beside a wetland area, while the Swift Water Trail follows a track to another wetland. The latter two are open to ATVs, the others are for foot travel only.