From Phoenix to Laughlin
U.S. 93 north to I-40 west through Kingman. Take the Bullhead City/Las Vegas exit and turn right at the signal at the end of the exit ramp. Continue west taking the Highway 68 ramp toward Bullhead City/Laughlin. Highway 68 merges into Arizona Highway 95. Turn right at the Laughlin Bridge.
Approximately 225 miles from Phoenix; 4 hours.
From Southern California to Laughlin
I-15 north to Barstow; I-40 east to Needles, Calif. Exit on River Road cutoff, turn north for 22 miles on Needles Highway to Casino Drive, turn right.
Approximately 283 miles from Los Angeles; 5 hours.
Approximately 335 miles from San Diego; 6 hours.
From Las Vegas to Laughlin
Interstate 515, U.S. 93/95 south through Las Vegas towards Boulder City. After passing through Henderson and the Railroad Pass Casino, take ramp and turn right onto U.S. 95 south toward Searchlight/Laughlin for 55 miles. Turn left onto NV 163. Head east for 19 miles. Turn right on Casino Drive.
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A sliver of the Colorado River Valley where Nevada, California and Arizona meet has been transformed into a fast-growing tourist destination and gambling resort in a few short decades.
Laughlin's current location was established in the 1940's with the South Pointe due to its proximity to Nevada's southern tip. The settlement consisted of a motel and bar that catered to gold and silver miners who dotted the map, and to the many construction workers who built Davis Dam.
Davis Dam was designed to help regulate the mighty Colorado and to provide electricity to the Southwest. Once the dam was completed, construction workers left and the motel fell into disrepair.
In 1964, Don Laughlin, owner of Las Vegas' 101 Club, flew over Laughlin and offered to buy the property. In less than two years the motel and bar, now called the Riverside Resort, was offering all-you-can-eat chicken dinners for 98 cents, play on 12 slot machines and two live gaming tables. Guest accommodations were available in four of the motel's eight motel rooms. The Laughlin family lived in the other four rooms.
South Pointe was renamed Laughlin when the U.S. Postal Service inspector insisted Don Laughlin give the town a name - any name - in order to receive mail. Don Laughlin recommended the name of Riverside or Casino, but the postal inspector used Laughlin instead.
In 1972, the Riverside Resort added 48 rooms, followed by several additions and in 1986 built the first 14-floor high-rise.
A second casino, the Bobcat Club opened in 1967 where the Golden Nugget Laughlin currently operates. In 1968 a third casino, the Monte Carlo opened its doors.
Across the River, Bullhead City flourished in the glow of the casino light. Shuttle boats transported customers from the Arizona side of the river to Laughlin's resorts.
During the 1980s a surge of casino construction exploded in Laughlin. The Colorado Hotel (now the Pioneer), Sam's Town Gold River (now the Laughlin River Lodge) and the Edgewater opened early in the decade. The activity attracted other investors that began the second boom, resulting in the construction of the Colorado Belle, Harrah's Del Rio, Ramada Express (now Tropicana Laughlin) and finally, in 1990, the Flamingo Hilton (now Aquarius).
In 1987, Don Laughlin funded and built the Laughlin Bridge at a cost of $3.5 million. He donated the bridge to the states of Nevada and Arizona. The bridge carries 2,000 vehicles daily.
Today there are eight hotel/casinos and one motel in Laughlin providing over 9,000 rooms,150,000 square feet of meeting space, 50 restaurants, two museums, a 34-lane bowling center, an outlet shopping mall and a variety of boutiques, spas and salons. More than 14,000 casino workers now cross the Colorado River by shuttle boat or the Laughlin Bridge each day.
The city by the river now attracts nearly 2 million visitors annually who visit Laughlin to gamble, enjoy water sports on the Colorado and attend many top name entertainers and high-profile special events hosted by the destination.