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Lake Havasu, Arizona

Lake Havasu is nestled along the foot of California's Chemehuevi Mountains and its deep water, fringed with coves and inlets, not only provides ideal fishing conditions, but its cool clear waters are well-known for various water sports including fishing, water skiing, speed boating, jet skiing, sailing and canoeing.

If you don't have your own water toys, you can rent them. There are a number of facilities that rent boats, skidoos and other equipment. If you just want to relax and enjoy the scenery, you can try one of the many water and land-based tours. The boat tours take you into remote canyons and historic sites where ancient peoples once lived. Guided land tours will take you on an exploration into lands where the pioneers once tread, while you learn about this fascinating region.

While the area is best known for the boating, fishing and sightseeing on Lake Havasu, the backcountry surrounding the Lake is virtually undiscovered by the many tourists and outdoor enthusiasts who venture to the Lake. The backcountry offers miles of quiet, seldom-visited lands including six wilderness areas, historic mines, abandoned town sites, unique wildlife, interesting geology and numerous trails and roads for adventurers who like to explore.

The diverse landscape ranges from sand dunes and rugged canyons to mountains and basins. Adding to the textures and shapes of the region are the diverse flora and fauna. Towering Saguaro Cactus stand like statues along the hillsides, along with Ocotillo, barrel and prickly pear cactus. Bighorn Sheep, Coyotes, reptiles, over 200 species of birds and wildlife can be viewed throughout the region. The Bill Williams National Wildlife Refuge is located at the south end of the lake and is an excellent location for wildlife watching.

A must-do is the Mohave Sunset Trail. It’s an easy 1.5 mile walk that winds its way through the lowland desert and along the shoreline, while the Arroyo-Camino Interpretive Garden showcases the diverse life that exists within the park and the surrounding desert. A native and "historic" foodstuffs garden is also available in the winter and early spring.

One of the more famous of the lower Colorado River slot canyons is the engaging three-mile one-way hike through Park Wash Crack in the Wall just south of Lake Havasu City. Called simply “The Crack,” this slot canyon is formed by a drainage that has carved its way through mountains then snaked around ridges, emptying into Lake Havasu. 

Another great way to explore the Lake Havasu area is by car or off-highway vehicle (OHV). Take in the Parker Dam Road "Thread of Life," a backcountry byway that highlights the scenic, natural, historic and prehistoric features along an 11 mile road. The road passes along the California shore of the Colorado River providing access to an abundance of recreation activities, including swimming, boating, fishing, rock hounding, hiking, OHV play areas and wildlife viewing.

The focal point of Lake Havasu are the towering walls and archways of the London Bridge that has stood in the waters of the Colorado River for more than 25 years. The Bridge serves as the backdrop to the English Village that has grown up around it. The village is filled with Tudor-style buildings and charming shops creating an atmosphere of Medieval England. Many visitors are surprised when they learn this is the original London Bridge and not a gimmick.

For more than 140 years, London Bridge served as a crossing over the River Thames in London, England. It survived both world wars and a terrorist attack in 1884. So why did London want to remove such a significant landmark? And how did the London Bridge end up in Lake Havasu City, Arizona?

The London Bridge had survived many historic events, but not nature's sinking forces. The Bridge began to sink into the River Thames and in 1968, the city of London decided to sell it for 2.5 million dollars to Robert P. McCulloch, founder of Lake Havasu City.

It took 3 years and another 7 million dollars to dismantle, ship and rebuild the bridge. Today, the London Bridge connects Lake Havasu City with an island bringing the essence of England to Arizona.

Lake Havasu City was established after the Parker Dam was constructed and the lake formed. The city offers a multitude of fun activities and recreational facilities. Golfers of all levels can enjoy the four golf courses, and for those who prefer smaller courses there is a miniature golf course. Tennis courts, an ice skating rink and a movie theater are also conveniently located within the city limits.

Fifty miles southeast of Lake Havasu City, the 38,470 acre Rawhide Mountains Wilderness is located in Mohave and La Paz counties.

The Rawhide Mountains are low hills punctuated by numerous rugged outcrops. These hills rise from 700 feet to an elevation of 2,430 feet. The mountains are cut by several washes and canyons, most notably the Mississippi Wash, which winds down a narrow canyon with several small waterfalls. The Buckskin Mountains rise from 1,700 feet in Butler Valley to the 3,927foot high Ives Peak.

The mountains are separated by eight miles of the Bill Williams River. More than five miles of this perennial stream meander through a 600 foot deep gorge, and several rocky side canyons with small waterfalls enter the main canyon within the wilderness. The environment here supports a variety of unique animals, including beavers, raptors, amphibians and reptiles.

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