99°F
weather icon Partly Cloudy

Day Trips: A Big Bend visit perfect for this time of year

Big Bend of the Colorado State Recreation Area should be considered a must-see place by every outdoor person in Southern Nevada. Handily located at the southern tip of Nevada, the park was established in 1996, directly on the Colorado River south of Laughlin’s Casino Drive.

The river, of course, takes center stage in the park. You can just hang out on sandy beaches, swim, picnic, fish along the banks, bird watch or even launch your boat for a day on the river. The park has about two miles of shoreline including some riparian areas, although when away from the water, much of the park is forested with mesquite and invasive tamarisk.

Swimming is especially good here, with areas set off from the river’s main channel providing safety from the strong current. And clean inland water, free of both sea salt and chlorine, is a pleasure in itself.

This is a trip better made in late winter or early spring than in summer. It will be warmer here than in Pahrump, perhaps 5-to-10 degrees, as the elevation is only 500 feet or so. Expect daily high temperatures in the 70s and low 80s over the next month.

Bird watching is excellent here. Great blue herons often walk the shoreline seeking an easy snack, hawks soar over the canyons to the west looking for food and phainopepla seek out the bright red berries of the desert mistletoe, a parasitic plant that grows prolifically in the mesquite. Besides these avian celebrities, you’ll see a wide variety of waterfowl as well as songbirds.

There is a network of about four miles of hiking trails in the park, ranging from the paved 0.2-mile Riverside Loop to the natural sand surface of the 1.4-mile Big Sandy Loop. For more adventure head to the west side of the Needles Highway, across from the entrance station. Here you will find excellent canyons to explore. There are no established trails in these rugged hills, but that makes them all the more interesting. You might even see some desert bighorn sheep, which frequent this area.

While the main channel here of the Colorado River is popular with speedboats and jet skis, the many shallow backwaters along the banks lend themselves to close inspection with a kayak or canoe.

The campground has 24 sites, available on a first come, first served basis. All are equipped with hook-ups for water, electric and sewer and most can accommodate even the largest recreational vehicle. Each site also has a space for tent camping, a shade ramada, a barbecue grill and a fire pit. There are also bathroom and shower facilities.

Day use is $9 per vehicle, with an additional charge of $15 if you launch a boat. Camping is either $20 or $26 per night, the latter figure including a boat launch. There’s an additional $10 charge if you use the RV hook-ups. Nevada residents receive $2 off most fees.

Contact (702) 298-1859. 4220 S. Needles Highway, Laughlin.

DIRECTIONS

  • From Pahrump, take NV-160 south about 52 miles to Las Vegas.
  • Merge onto I-215 east and drive about 12 miles.
  • Merge onto US-93/95 south and drive about 10 miles.
  • After Railroad Pass go right onto U.S. 95 south for 53 miles.

Go left onto State Highway 163 Laughlin and drive about 16 miles and turn right on Needles Highway and continue south about 5.4 miles to Big Bend of the Colorado State Recreation Area, at 4220 South Needles Highway.

Deborah Wall is the author of “Base Camp Las Vegas, Hiking the Southwestern States,” “Great Hikes, A Cerca Country Guide,” and co-author of “Access For All, Touring the Southwest with Limited Mobility.” Wall can be reached at Deborabus@aol.com

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
DIVAS ON A DIME: Spoil dad with gourmet hamburgers at home

With Father’s Day just around the corner, may I suggest giving dear old dad what he really wants, an amazing hamburger. Seriously, who doesn’t love a big, tender, juicy burger? Except for a few vegetarians, every dad I know would agree.

California lottery

No one matched all five numbers and the mega number in the Saturday, June 12 drawing of the California Super Lotto. The next jackpot will be at least $55 million.

DIVAS ON A DIME: Start grilling season with a twist on burnt ends

Memorial Day weekend fills my heart with gratitude as we honor those who made possible, the freedom we so often take for granted. It’s a weekend of recognition, remembrance, and thanks. For many families, this weekend also signals the official beginning of grilling season. Care to join me in a patriotic foodie-licious happy dance?

DIVAS ON A DIME: Celebrate strawberries and cream with a vintage cake recipe

Each year on May 21st we celebrate a dessert that just squeals Spring! National Strawberries and Cream Day brings together two favorites, fresh ripe strawberries, and homemade whipped cream. While that alone makes a divine dessert, let’s add a mildly sweet, vanilla fragranced, easy to make from scratch cake and we’ve just won at life.

DIVAS ON A DIME: Meet the underrated and versatile baked potato

Remember baked potatoes? I was chatting with friends about food (because what else do I talk about?) and none of us could remember the last time we had stuffed baked potatoes for dinner. We’ve been so busy with our quinoa we forgot about the King of Carbs. Good carbs, naturally.

Make Mother a sandwich that she will never forget

Meet smörgåstårta, your new favorite party recipe. Smörgåstårta (pronounced SMORE-gas-TOR-ta) is simply a beautifully decorated savory sandwich cake. It’s popular when celebrating special occasions in Sweden. To celebrate Mother’s Day and honor the influential women in your life, may I suggest serving a smörgåstårta?

DIVAS ON A DIME: Easy pork carnitas are perfect for Cinco de Mayo

Melt-in-your-mouth, flavorful and juicy with irresistible caramelized crunchy bits, this pork carnitas is brimming with classic flavors like Mexican oregano, cumin, chili powder and a surprising bright note of citrus. I’m so excited to share this divine recipe, just in time for Cinco de Mayo.

California Lottery

No one matched all five numbers and the mega number in the Saturday, March 20 drawing of the California Super Lotto. The next jackpot will be at least $31 million.

DIVAS ON A DIME: Secret tips for hiding vegetables from picky eaters

Even the most enthusiastic vegetable lovers can have a hard time getting that five a day. But when you have kids who act like you’re trying to poison them with peas, it’s even harder. That said, I’m not above suggesting you sneak veggies into your children’s food. Welcome to this episode of Crouching Mother, Hidden Veggies.