Located on the mighty Colorado River between Arizona and Nevada, Bullhead City is an oasis of history, recreation, and modernity, lost amidst the vast desert that blankets much of the southwestern United States.
Just a stone’s throw from the gambling mecca of Laughlin, Nevada, the area offers a little something for everyone, no matter what floats your boat.
So whether you’d like to hit the trails and trek into the desert to do some bird-watching, or drink gin ‘n tonics and watch an Elvis impersonator sing about his blue suede shoes, you’ll be plenty content in Bullhead City and nearby Laughlin.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Bullhead City:
1. Colorado River Museum
If there’s one place that embodies the history of the Arizona, Nevada, and Colorado River areas it’s the Colorado River Museum on Highway 68 in Bullhead City.
The museum is housed in an old church that was built in the ‘40s and primarily focuses on the construction of nearby Davis Dam, Route 66, and the history of the surrounding towns and river.
It’s chockfull of artifacts, memorabilia, and displays which will give you a fascinating crash-course in the area’s history, which also includes the gold and silver mining era, cattle ranching, and Native American history.
The museum isn’t open year-round, so check out the website before you go.
2. Colorado River Nature Center
The Colorado River is one of the natural wonders of the western United States.
Though the introduction of dams has changed the course and flow of the mighty river in many places, it’s still an awesome spectacle, especially when seen flowing through the canyons which it has carved a massive swath over the ages.
The Colorado River Nature Center is less than ten miles from Bullhead City, making it a great day-trip.
There are areas to swim, fish, or just take a leisurely walk.
At nearly 150 acres, the park is a great place to ride horses and do a bit of bird watching too.
3. Stroll on the Riverwalk
For some, Bullhead City, Arizona and Laughlin, Nevada may as well be one town with a river running through it.
Few people visit one without the other, and if you’re one of those souls who can’t resist the flashing lights, ringing bells and excitement of the casino floor, consider dragging yourself away for a few hours to take a leisurely stroll along the riverwalk.
Especially memorable at sunset, the walk is full of panoramic views of the picturesque river and surrounding mountains.
The walk is on the Laughlin side of the river and will take you through developed and relatively undeveloped parts of the river.
4. Davis Dam and Camp
Less than a mile from Bullhead City, Davis Dam and Camp is a great place to slip away from the bright lights for a few hours, or to spend the night, if camping under the stars sounds like a nice change of pace.
The site is right on the Colorado River, just across from Nevada, and has all the amenities RV enthusiasts and campers need like bathrooms, a laundry room and showers.
The river near the camp is surprisingly clear and chilly year round, so it’s a great place to spread out a towel and catch some rays, swim, go fishing, or rent a personal watercraft and tear it up.
5. Colorado River Heritage Greenway Trail
Also referred to as North Reach Trail, the Colorado River Heritage Greenway Trail is about 9 miles of scenic trail on the Laughlin side of the river.
It boasts amenities such as restrooms, shaded seating and picnic areas, and a fishing pier too.
The trails are open to cyclists, runners, and even horses and will give you access to 5 other trailheads as well, if you’d like to do a bit of exploring.
Due to the bright desert sun, the trail isn’t usually crowded, and most choose to enjoy it in the morning or afternoon.
The end of the trail will treat you to a great view of nearby Davis Dam.
6. Arizona Veterans Memorial Park
Located on a beautiful piece of land overlooking the Colorado River, the Arizona Veterans Memorial Park is free to visit and open every day.
The park is divided into north and south sections, the north of which has the names of Arizonans killed in conflicts and wars etched into a memorial.
The southern section of the park is noted for its eternal flame which serves as a constant reminder of the ultimate sacrifice made by Arizona’s soldiers.
There’s also a memorial to the USS Arizona, the battleship sunk by the Japanese when they attacked Pearl Harbor, sparking America’s declaration of war.
7. Take a River Taxi
The Colorado River taxi is a wonderful way to see the area’s sights and to go back and forth between Laughlin and Bullhead City.
You can buy a one-trip ticket, or an all-day pass depending on what you plan to do.
The information and ticket center for the river taxi is located near the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino.
Though the tickets aren’t inexpensive, most visitors think its money well spent because of the speed with which the taxi navigates the river, and the sights they see along the way.
There are multiple taxis, and according to their website, they run from 9 AM to 9 PM.
8. Laughlin Labyrinths
Located on Thomas Edison Drive in Laughlin, the Laughlin Labyrinths are a collection of 9 stone designs and mazes that may seem a bit out of place, considering they’re so close to glitzy casinos.
Though most of the structures require a bit of a hike to reach, their intricate designs and the natural beauty surrounding them will be a great, if only temporary, break from the noisy casinos.
They’re a bit spread out, and near private property, so heed the warnings.
The Labyrinths were featured on a public television show in the past, and are great places to visit early in the morning or late in the afternoon when the sun won’t be so oppressive.
Ask at the casino help desk for directions.
9. Don Laughlin’s Classic Car Collection
Located on South Casino Drive inside Don Laughlin’s Riverside Resort is the classic car collection of the man who the city of Laughlin was named after.
The car collection is located on two different floors and exhibits some of the owner’s personal classics, as well as some that are on loan from other collections.
It’s a great place to take a break when your arms can’t possibly pull that slot-machine handle one more time.
There’s no charge, and depending on your age and interest in cars, it may just be a pleasant and unexpected walk down memory lane.
All the cars have been professionally restored, and some are quite rare.
10. Christmas Tree Pass
Leading through southern Nevada’s Newberry Mountains, Christmas tree pass begins near Laughlin and ends up at Searchlight, Nevada.
The road leading to the pass is in the Lake Mead Recreation area, and though it’s just gravel, it isn’t too difficult.
The views from the top of the pass include the Mojave Desert, various species of cactus, and the Colorado River Valley far below.
There are ample pullouts if you’d like to park, snap a picture, or walk into the desert.
If you go all the way to Searchlight before turning back, there are gas stations and places to buy food and drinks.
11. Davis Dam at Lake Meade National Recreation Area
Located on the Colorado River between Arizona and Nevada, Davis Dam is one of the things to do in Bullhead City that you won’t want to pass up.
The structure itself is massive, and the park is on the downriver side of the dam and includes shaded picnic areas, barbeque grills, showers, and restrooms.
The river’s current can be strong at times depending on flow through the dam, so be cautious if you decide to rent a watercraft or heavy-duty inner tube.
There’s a relatively inexpensive park fee, so round up some burgers, buns, and a cooler full of cold beverages and make a day of it.
12. Big Bend Colorado River
Located on Needles Highway in Laughlin, Big Bend Colorado River is like an ocean beach oasis in the middle of one of America’s driest deserts.
The area is a state park, and the water is clear and chilly due to its high elevation origin, so it’s a great place to beat the area’s notorious heat.
The current is usually pretty swift, so try walking up river and floating back down to the park on your back or an inner tube.
There are usually relatively shallow areas that are blocked from the river flow where children can frolic safely.
There are camping sites too if you’d like to spend the night.
13. Lake Mohave
Another of the area’s magnets to sportsmen and outdoor enthusiasts is Lake Mohave, which lies in the canyon between Hoover and Davis dams.
At nearly 70 miles long, 4 miles across and 700 feet deep in areas, it’s an impressive sight.
The lake is inside the Lake Mead National Recreation area and consists of three primary recreation areas that are favorites for fisherman, scuba divers, swimmers and water skiers.
The lake has quite a few introduced sport-fish species such as rainbow trout, large and smallmouth bass, and striped bass.
The lake’s water is deep and clear which can make fishing a challenge, so if you plan to try your luck, consider low-light periods like dusk and dawn when fish are most active.
14. Grapevine Canyon
At just short of 4 miles, the Grapevine Canyon Trail in Lake Meade National Recreation Area is challenging but full of spectacular vistas.
If you’ve got what it takes, the trail will lead you by Ancient Native American petroglyphs and multiple waterfalls, which only flow after rain, usually in the spring.
The hike rises about 400 feet in elevation from beginning to end, and the area is subject to flash floods, so listen carefully and pay attention to the sky for storm clouds to the north.
Wear good shoes, and bring plenty of water and some sunblock too.
15. Mohave Museum of History & Arts
Located on West Beale Street in Kingman, the Mohave Museum of History and Arts is perhaps the premier destination for those who’d like to get up to speed on the history of the Colorado River region.
The most popular exhibit is the gallery of portraits of former presidents and their wives.
Other art and exhibits are primarily focused on the region’s history, economy, and the Native American people who called the land home well before it was settled.
The museum is maintained solely off donations and admission fees, so get out there and help them out.
Check out their website for hours and fees.