The London Bridge is the most obvious place to paddle in Lake Havasu City. The views are amazing, and this is where most of the big events happen in town.
The channel through the London Bridge can get crowded with boats. However, most boaters gave us plenty of room and obeyed the “no wake zone” policy.
More Exploring the Island
On days we were feeling ambitious, we would paddle around the entire island. It’s about 4-5 miles, and is a considerable amount of work! Personally, I found the kayak easier for longer voyages, as it’s easier to balance. Megan, however, is a pro and can navigate some serious wake without falling!
It’s a Big Lake!
Paddle equipment won’t get you far enough to see the whole lake. Consider making friends with a power boat if you want to REALLY explore Lake Havasu! Boat rentals are fairly reasonable and it really is the best way to explore more of what the lake has to offer.
SARA Park is the hiking and mountain bike headliner in Lake Havasu City. The park is so much fun that it leaves me wondering why more trails haven’t been carved. We hit this park multiple times during our stay.
Crack in the Mountain (SARAs Crack)
We loved this hike! SARAs Crack leads through a narrow canyon eventually reaching Lake Havasu. It’s about 4 miles one way hike to the lake, and the trailhead is only 5 miles from the London Bridge.
Be prepared for some small class 3 down climbing! There is a hand hold rope installed on one section, and a couple other sections require a slow, calculated decent. We took an alternate route back which rewarded us with elevated views of the lake.
My sister and her husband joined us on a hike, and Megan wore the GoPro. Below is the result! Don’t judge my video editing I’m very new to the whole GoPro thing!
We enjoyed this hike in the spring, and it was still HOT. Also, parts of the canyon were knee deep in water. For those looking to hike here, bring plenty of drinking water and proper shoes!
SARA Park is pretty much the only mountain biking in the area. It’s fun, but challenging. Some washy spots and really tough obstacles and impossible climbs. That said, it’s worth doing! We enjoyed some big rolling hills, really fun descents, and for me it was a big challenge to my technical skills.
This was my first helmet cam attempt, and it’s ok. I don’t think it gives enough perspective, but still worth a watch! I also dumped my bike on a washy corner which is fun to have on video!
Lake Havasu City is a place where fun is abundant. Somehow, they’ve missed the mark on mountain biking. I think the city could do a lot to add and improve the trail system. (It really doesn’t help that I’m writing from Steamboat Springs, CO and I’ve got a new rig.)
Still, the Watershed loop in SARA Park was fun and challenging enough for a short visit. If we were to become permanent residents here, I’d certainly campaign for more cycling options!
Why You Should Visit
SARA Park is the hiking and biking spot for Lake Havasu City. Understandably, most of the outdoor activities here are found on the water. But for those who want to get away from the craziness and enjoy a piece of the desert on foot, this is the place to go!
Route 66 was a stretch of road 2,448 miles long, connecting Chicago, IL, to Los Angeles, CA. It existed in entirety from 1926 to 1985, and sections can still be driven today. Unfortunately, the interstate system all but demolished most of the route. The modern day planners and developers failed to consider the historic significance of the route, and more importantly, the cities and towns who depended on it.
The “Mother Road” is a now a staple in American history and culture. Beginning with the hardships of the 1930’s Dust Bowl era, through the 50’s automotive boom, to the modern day bike culture and tourism. Route 66 has become an icon to which no interstate highway can compete.
As we toured the Mojave region, we found a rusty, weathered, and a neglected history of the west. A small resurgence of industrial tourism has saved some of it, especially along the present day I-40. Deviate from the interstate, and you’ll find whats barely left on this open road. It will surely tune your imagination to the boom and bust of route 66 Mojave Desert.
We visited: Oatman, AZ
Oatman, AZ is home to the Burro, and a few people who brave the seasons of the high desert. The town has a history which predates Route 66 due to a gold rush. The mines closed in the 1940s due to the war effort. During WWII the town became abandoned and left to the burros.
Present day, Oatman is a tourist town catering to route 66 travelers. Much of the rebirth of this area is due to the tourism industry mainly coming from Laughlin, NV and Kingman, AZ. While the cruise along 66 was a beautiful tour of the high Desert, we couldn’t help making the Burros our favorite part of this trip.
We Visited: Needles, CA
Needles is a very depressed place. It’s unfortunate, as its location along the Colorado River and proximity to the Topock gorge should make Needles a desert oasis. Instead, this once booming route 66 town is now littered with abandoned motels, gas stations, and boarded up homes. Needles has a high transient population, which I’ve heard is responsible for the many creative and impressive murals bringing light to the otherwise seriously depressed buildings.
I hope there is a future for Needles. Maybe with investments to restore some of the old fuel stations, motels, and classic diners, travelers would have reason to spend money here. Unfortunately, there really is no reason to stop here, aside from taking pictures of a city that once was.
We Visited: Kingman, AZ
Kingman is an example of what Needles can be. The western exit off I-40 brings you to the historic town. Complete with a Route 66 museum, murals, a restaurant and brewery (I really enjoyed the Rickety Cricket!), and a tourist strip of historic buildings and railroad landmarks.
The eastern exits of Kingman display a modern city, complete with a healthcare complex, shopping malls, golf courses, and other modern amenities.
Kingman was the safest, most successful Route 66 cities we visited. It is a tale of two cities, old and new.
We Visited: Ghost towns of the Mojave
Goff, CA. It’s on the map, I’m not sure why. It took courage to get out of the truck in this town. Located on the southern boundary of the Mojave National Preserve, this town is an introduction to the extreme lonesomeness of anything north of it.
Neither Megan or I had the courage to enter this building in Goff. We did, however, decide to travel through the rest of the Mojave National Preserve.
The road was unkempt, and there were no services for many, many miles. The views of the Joshua trees were a welcome break from the vast nothingness that surrounded us. Eventually, we found another abandoned building which we had to visit, located about 30 miles south of the I-15.
This roofless, graffiti, and bullet ridden building put an uneasy feeling throughout my whole body. Inside the doorless entryway looked to be the site of a human execution site. Multiple bullet holes at head height and nowhere else. It was enough for me to get back in the truck and dart off… quickly.
What I’ve Learned!
In general, the Mojave is a harsh and unforgiving land. The old Route 66 was a lesson in history, a visual aid to the boom and bust, and channeled itself into my imagination of what it once was. While this region is only a small segment of the old highway, the magic of the desert brings the left for dead Route 66 back to life in surreal fashion.
Family is what Christmas is all about. So, we made the drive to meet Megan’s grandparents in Las Vegas. Megan has never had a fun Vegas experience, and I knew both Megan and her Grandmother would LOVE the grandeur of the Bellagio hotel.
After a 2.5 hour drive, we parked and walked into the hotel. The entrance led to the hotel lobby which included a massive Christmas display.
After we wondered the display for a while, we made our way to the buffet. This was no ordinary buffet! The spread of food was incredible! In my opinion, the best way to enjoy it is to have a small portion of everything possible! The food was all fresh, tasted good, and choices were endless. Nothing like any buffet I’ve ever been to. Obviously! It’s the Bellagio!
We put away our phones while we ate. Food pictures are cliche, and quality time with family is way more important! After a 2 hour feast, we made our way to watch the infamous Bellagio fountain display, before heading home.
Travel time has allowed us to really enjoy Lake Havasu before we begin work and continue to settle in. Megan and I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to spend our next 5 months here.
Mountain Biking – SARA Park
Of course we’d get things started with a mountain bike ride! SARA park is about 5 miles from Havasu City, and is a great trail system. It’s rugged, challenging, fun mountain biking.
We’ve hit the park twice now, and look forward to continue exploring the trails. SARA Park is also popular to hike, which will likely be a future endeavor while were here!
New Paddle Equipment!
The whole way to Virginia, we talked about how we’re going to get on the water. Purchasing a Standup Paddle Board (SUP), Kayak, or Canoe were on our minds. So when we got here, we decided to go for it!
We made the decision to go with a SUP (Atoll 11ft Inflatable) and a Kayak Advance Elements 10.5ft Inflatable. We’ve had so much fun on the boards! We can easily paddle to the London Bridge canal and enjoy the nearby beaches. Megan and I have even circled the island, which is about a 3 hour tour (and workout!).
RV Life & Campgrounds
Lake Havasu City has many RV campgrounds, as well as BLM land very near the city. We were very lucky to get a campsite very near the water!
Lake Have-a-brew or Have-a-few, is also a very popular party destination. People vacation from nearby metropolises such as Phoenix, Los Angles, and Las Vegas. Vacationers are often unapologetic when it comes to their “It’s 5 O’clock somewhere” attitude. We’ve enjoyed Mudshark Brewery cans on the SUP & Kayak a couple times because… life’s a beach!
SNOWBIRD /ˈsnōˌbərd/ – A northerner who moves to a warmer southern state in the winter.
Lake Havasu nearly doubles in population each winter, as it is a very popular snowbird destination. We’ve met many people in the campground who retire to the park each winter. It’s really fun to meet so many travelers! The population literally doubles here in the winter months. RV life is common here and the city has adapted well to meet demand.
The Town & Culture
Lake Havasu City is growing, but still maintains a small town feel. We’ve enjoyed some really nice community events, such as holiday lighting and an RV/ Boat show. We plan on growing as well, and discovering more of what this town has to offer!
Megan and I both started work! We have been getting oriented professionally for this assignment. Megan is on a MedSurg & Tele nursing floor and I (Bobby) joined a framing crew, building additions to Modular homes at a nearby RV resort.
VEGAS BABY! It’s only a day trip, but it involves brunch at the Bellagio with Megan’s Grandmother! I’m sure I’ll find my way to the blackjack table for a minute or two as well…
Megan writing here! This year, not just on Thanksgiving, we celebrate the tremendous amount of gratitude we have for all we have experienced since beginning this journey. The month of November has been particularly wonderful after getting to see friends and family along the way on our second cross-country trip this year. It began from our 2-month stay at Middle Creek campground along the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Buchanan, VA, all the way to our destination in western Arizona at Lake Havasu. The 2,300 mile drive was filled with joyous moments with close friends and family.
We began our journey west driving for 8 hours to have a two night stay in the Music City of Nashville, TN at Safe Harbor RV resort along Percy Priest Lake. The next day, we rode our bikes on the Greenway and over the Cumberland River into downtown Nashville, hearing the intermittent crunch of the autumn leaves underneath us. So many people were also out enjoying the beautiful morning.
We stopped to have coffee at our halfway point in downtown at the Johnny Cash Museum and rode back to our RV–or, as we like to call it, the Cabasa (casa + caboose)! So, back at the Cabasa we met up with one of my close and long-term friends, who lives in Nashville and she took us to one of Nashville’s only breweries, the Bearded Iris. We enjoyed great conversation over a couple of tasty beers and made our way to Printer’s Alley in downtown Nashville, including Robert’s Western World, and Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar where we enjoyed listening and dancing to some live music.
Fort Worth, TX
The next day we headed out and began the long journey to Dallas/Fort Worth. The drive was extreme with lots of rain, and what later turned into tornados. Once that calmed, we hit a 2 hour traffic delay in Little Rock, which really added to our exhaustion. We made it to the eastern side of Dallas, where we parked for the night at a local Cracker Barrel. Our first boondocking experience!
The next day we settled in at Northlake Village RV Park and had a BBQ that evening with Bobbys sister, and their beautiful family. The night was filled with laughter and catching up, and we were grateful to spend time with them. The next day, we met up with Bobby’s mom who was also visiting, and attended our nephews little league baseball game. Finally, we wrapped up the evening at Uncle Julios Mexican for a margarita and some great food!
The next morning we hopped back in the truck, and made our way to El Paso, TX. We passed through west Texas, which seems to be in an oil boom. Finally, we got to Sunland Park & Casino, which offered a few RV spots with hook ups on the cheap. We stayed the night, and threw a few bucks in the slots while there. So much fun!
We stayed in Tempe, AZ just down the street from ASU for a night. We are so thankful for the opportunity to hang out with one of my former coworkers from Colorado. She took us to such a fun board game bar in Tempe called Snakes and Lattes where we had a blast playing new games with new friends! It was also cool to see the party seen in Tempe!
The next few nights, we stayed with close friends in Chandler. They were so hospitable and we enjoyed some time with them at the Desert Botanic Gardens where we also got to experience the chocolate and chili festival (so yum)! We hung out by the pool, went on a hike on South Mountain, watched some football, and tried some authentic New Mexican food. They also spoiled us with some yummy sushi for my birthday at Shimogamo. What a treat!
Lake Havasu City, AZ
We are incredibly grateful for our journey getting here, our new home, Lake Havasu City, AZ. We’ve adapted quickly to the culture here, which is very laid back and outdoorsy. We are so happy to be in mild temps this winter, and right on the water!
Because we’re so close to water, we treated ourselves to a new SUP (stand-up paddle board) and kayak to enjoy for our time here. They are both inflatable but they work great so far! They are both a great workout, too! Paddle Havasu!
All in all, it is very fitting that I am posting this blog on Thanksgiving, seeing that we have a lot in our lives to be grateful for. Every day Bobby and I give thanks for all that with which we have been blessed. Though we are sad we aren’t able to spend the day with friends or family back in Colorado, we are giving a shout out to having being graced with the presence of our friends and family along the way from our previous home in Virginia to our new home in Arizona. Shout out to my dear friend Debbie in Nashville, my sister-in-law Sarah, and her husband Chris, and their kids Caleb and Jenna, also my mother-in-law Trina, then to drive on and meet up with my former coworker from Craig Hospital, Melissa, and meet her some of her friends in Tempe, then to spend time with close friends in Phoenix with TK, Jeff, and Cricket! Now we are living the lake life and meeting new friends here! Happy Turkey Day everyone! May you all be filled with many blessings!