Paddle Lake Havasu

Upon arriving in Lake Havasu, we decided to invest in inflatable paddle equipment. Megan got an Atoll paddle board, and I got an Advanced Elements Kayak. We absolutely love them!

London Bridge Channel

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.

Hiking & Mountain Biking SARA Park – Lake Havasu, AZ

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!

Mountain Biking

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!

The Mojave Region of Historic Route 66

A brief history of Route 66

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.

Early Christmas Brunch at Bellagio

Bellagio Christmas Tree

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.

Getting Started in Havasu

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.

Outdoor Life

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!

Next Chapter: 

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.

ALSO

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…

Thanks for reading!

Bobby & Megan