On the Road from Las Vegas to Laughlin: Cal-Nev-Ari
To read Part 1 of this series click here
From Searchlight we continue south another 12 miles until we reach the very small town (population approximately 160) of Cal-Nev-Ari, which consists of homes, a restaurant/casino/bar, the Kidwell Airport for smaller planes, and a motel.
You may have heard of this town, since it was put up for sale in 2016 for $8 million. The whole town … for sale! And, a surprise for those of us that drive through this town on I-95, what you can see is not all there is to the town. Most people think the town only goes up to the airport strip which you can see when you stop at the restaurant; however, on the other side of the strip, to the west, are more homes and properties.
For years, my husband and I have talked about stopping at the restaurant but always continued on by. Not this time! We stopped for breakfast and had the pleasure of being served by Tina. The breakfast was terrific, and though the place looks small from the outside, it is big on the inside. They have a nice dining/breakfast patio/counter service restaurant with a small casino in the back, along with a nice bar and dance/party area. To show you how terrific it was, we also stopped here for breakfast on the way back to Vegas from Laughlin and were greeted by another pleasant server, Jennifer. You want it, they have it. Steak, ham, bacon, sausage and eggs, pancakes, French toast, and for later, sandwiches. Be forewarned though — the restaurant portion is only open for breakfast and lunch, not dinner. The casino/bar area is open 24/7.
Before I forget to mention it, the Blue Sky Motel on the east side of the road has 10 rooms available and a pool. These are no frills type of rooms which are supposedly spacious, with an excellent hot water pump system. You book your room across the street from the motel at the Cal-Nev-Ari Casino. Blue Sky Motel phone: (702) 297-1118. The Cal-Nev-Ari Market and RV Park is just to the south of the motel. RV Park phone: (702) 297-1115.
After filling up, it’s on to Laughlin! But wait — if we didn’t stop for breakfast and we needed a rest stop, there’s one up ahead! The Southern Nevada Visitors Center is just down the road, 7 miles south of Cal-Nev-Ari. This center is not staffed, so the information/maps are located in glass cases; however, each time I have stopped there the rest rooms have been very clean. They keep some of the mess away by using hand dryers instead of paper towels. You can also picnic at the tables they have set up, and there is ample parking.
And, in case your vehicle is low on gas, there is a Chevron station with mini food mart located just a mile or so south of the Visitors Center on the west side of the road just before you make your left turn onto State Route (SR) 163, Laughlin Highway.
So we’re filled up and finally turning left onto SR 163 from I-95 on our way to Laughlin. What beautiful scenery! From this point, it is 19 miles to Laughlin, with several sharper turns and downgrades until you are dumped into the Colorado River Valley. If you drive this route at night you have a fantastic view of the lights of Laughlin as you round the last curve of the road. But, keep in mind, this is a dark desert highway.
If you are driving to Laughlin for the first time you should probably take SR 163 straight to the Laughlin Strip, which is Casino Drive, to see the heart of Laughlin’s tourist district and what they have to offer. You will pass under the Blue Gateway Bridge, which is part of the North Reach Project of Laughlin’s Colorado River Heritage Greenway Park and Trails. This bridge was dedicated in July of 2012 and estimated to have cost $1 million
Once you turn right onto Casino Drive, you will see the first of Laughlin’s hotels, the Riverside Hotel & Casino, and you will pass under the Welcome to Laughlin NV sign, which is on the Pedestrian Bridge over the roadway. Continuing on along the east side of the Laughlin Strip, there will be the Aquarius, Regency, Edgewater, Colorado Belle, Pioneer, Golden Nugget, Laughlin River Lodge, and farther up the hill, Harrah’s. The lone hotel on the west side of the Strip (and not on the river) is the Tropicana, which is directly across the street from the Colorado Belle.
Starting in March, I will begin dissecting the things to do, places to eat, specials, discounts and tips for you to use for each of the hotels and other areas of Laughlin. So much to do, so little time! Good thing I live in the area!
— Pauline Cimoch