Exploring Nevada - Laughlin, NV

Before a couple weeks ago I had never been to Laughlin, NV, and I didn’t know much about it other than it was a small town with casinos on the river.

Casinos on the River, Laughlin, NV

Earlier this month I took a short trip to Laughlin, explored the surrounding area, and learned about the history of the town. Laughlin was founded in the 1940s as South Pointe and was little more than a settlement that served miners and construction workers who were building the Davis Dam. It remained mostly unknown until the 1960s when Don Laughlin discovered South Pointe and recognized its potential as a resort town.

Don Laughlin built the first casino there, the Riverside, in the 1960s. I like the story about how the town got its name--Laughlin didn’t really want to have it named after him. He wanted to name the town Riverside, but the post office told him that was too common of a name and the mail would not make it there reliably. They chose the name Laughlin for the town. I read a magazine article at the Riverside Hotel in which Laughlin tells how he once checked into a hotel in Chicago, I believe, and filled out the registration card. The people told him he filled it out incorrectly, accidentally placing his name in the space for the city! I guess those kinds of things happen when you share your name with your city.

Riverboat Dock, Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Laughlin sits on the edge of the Colorado River. On the other side of the river is Bullhead City, AZ, which developed as a result of Laughlin’s growth. Davis Dam, located just north of the two towns, creates the small Lake Mojave, and this area is part of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. I made this black and white photograph (above) of a dock reaching into the lake in one of the coves formed by the dam.

There are now several casinos along the river, and they are the focus of Laughlin. I enjoyed making these photographs of the small casino town on the river.

Laughlin After Dark, Laughlin, NV

Exploring Nevada - Delamar Dry Lake

I’m starting to take a deeper exploration into the state of Nevada, and for my first stop I visited the Delamar Dry Lake.

Brewing Storm Over Delamar, Nevada

The Delamar Dry Lake is just a couple of hours north of Las Vegas. Like a lot of the land in Nevada, it is administered by the Bureau of Land Management. It’s a secluded location, but it’s not really that difficult to get to. After passing the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge--another interesting location I’ll be visiting soon--I made a right turn off of Route 93 onto Alamo Canyon Road. From there on it was a dirt road all the way to the dry lake. The road was one of the best dirt roads I’ve been on, though. Although surrounded by rocky terrain with boulders and large outcroppings, the road itself was not very rocky. Aside from a few washboard sections, it was very smooth for the entire drive.

Once I turned onto Alamo Canyon Road, I encountered no more people. There were some cattle grazing as well as some deer, rabbits, and birds, but I saw no other signs of life (besides the plants, of course). I wound my way through the rocky terrain and passed by a couple additional dirt roads going in other directions. I wondered where those went--perhaps additional opportunities for exploration in the future.

I continued on my way until I reached Poleline Road, which is aptly named for the set of power lines that run along the road. Here are a couple photographs of the lines.

Electrical lines along Poleline Road, Nevada

Poleline Road from Delamar Dry Lake, Nevada

After arriving at the dry lake, I parked underneath the power lines. When I opened the car door, I could hear a crackling Hertz buzz coming from the power lines. The only other sound came from the wind, which blew strongly across the flat lake bed the entire time I was there.

As the cattle grazed nearby, I walked onto the lake bed. Several cars had driven out there. I could see the tracks. It’s a shame that people can’t show more respect and refrain from driving on the surface and marring it that way. I walked about 300 yards into the lake bed and found a nice section where I had a view of the mountains and the sunset. The surface of the lake bed is very shiny. It almost looks like it’s still wet in places, but it’s not. Here’s a photograph I made to capture the shininess of the surface.

The shiny surface of Delamar Dry Lake, Nevada

I settled in for a while, trying to stay warm in the strong wind. As I left for the evening, it was almost dark, but the cattle were still out grazing. Some of them were very close to the road, and I had to watch out for them. I paused next to one of the cattle, and we looked at each other for a minute. As I slowly pulled away, it resumed its grazing with indifference.

The Delamar Dry Lake is a neat place, and I plan to return for some additional photography there later this year. For now, it was the first stop on my deeper exploration of the state of Nevada.

Delamar After Sunset, Nevada