Big Bend is more than a bend in the river − it’s a recreational wonderland with sandy beaches, crystal-clear water and lots of year-round sunshine.
Host: Today I'm in the big bend of Colorado area around Laughlin where the hiking is phenomenal. Turns out there's a whole lot more than that. A river runs through it.
The Colorado River stretches from the Rockies up north down 1,450 miles into Mexico. Here the river is what gives Nevada's southern tip its iconic shape and it's where I meet Greg who is going to show me what makes Big Bend so special.
Host: Greg, brother, how are you doing?
Greg: Good, John, how are you?
Host: Outstanding. I’ve never been to Laughlin before and I’m thoroughly impressed already it’s a great spot.
Greg: It is down here at the southern tip of the state it’s unlike any other park.
Host: Tell me about this area and give me the size of this park.
Greg: So this park is a little over 2,000 acres and the main draw here is the sandy beach that you see here. We’ve got approximately about a mile of sandy beach.
Host: That’s kind of rare. I mean you rarely see a beach and a beautiful river like that.
Greg: You know on the river, beach is prime real estate.
People have been coming to this area for thirteen thousand years. But it wasn’t until 1964 when Don Laughlin built his first casino six miles north of here that this part of the Colorado River began its run as a tourist destination.
Host: How many people you got coming through here?
Greg: You know roughly it’s probably in about a hundred thousand range per year. The majority of that is in the summer.
Host: Well, yeah, I bet and this river divides two states.
Greg: It does. So right here where we’re standing is beautiful Nevada. And on the other side, Arizona.
Host: I noticed you didn’t say beautiful Arizona.
Host: A brand new park?
Greg: The park itself is relatively new. We opened in 1996 and so we’ve had the park for about 20 years and we built it to what it is today.
Though Big Bend is in Nevada State Park we're at the convergence of three states. The California border is six miles to the southwest. Riviera, Arizona is less than a quarter of a mile across the river but sits in a different time zone.
Host: On the walk here to the beach I noticed the water. Crystal clear. Tell me about that.
Greg: The Colorado River as it comes down has multiple dams and those dams they're really good at damming up sediment. They control the water so the sediment stays behind, the water comes through. So as the water comes through, anything that was in the river at the time has all been washed out so the result is just cool, crystal-clear water.
Host: Boy and when you say cool people still go swimming, but it's the place to be on a hot summer day.
Greg: Absolutely. When it's 120 there's nothing better.
The Big Bend of the Colorado State Park lies downstream from both Hoover and Davis dams so a lot of the sediment in the water never makes it this far; the effects are stunning.
Host: Is this a natural outlet here?
Greg: So this right here is a man-made lagoon and the big draw to this is it's a currentless boat launch and so for our boaters nothing's better than having to be able to launch without the current. It makes it so much easier.
Host: Now you mentioned boating what else is going on around here?
Greg: You know during the summertime it's full of boats and jet skis and swimming. We're still here in the wintertime; we're full of camping, fishing, picnicking and just relaxing on the beach watching wildlife. It's a great place to be.
Host: You got some good hiking going on here. What kind of fish you got in here?
Greg: So mostly is gonna be bass, largemouth, and striper.
Host: I think you know what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna sample some of the stuff you got going on here and start with the kayak.
Take it from me you can spend a lifetime hiking Nevada’s canyons and trails, but you get a whole different perspective when you view the landscape from the water. What a sight!