We’ve passed lake Havasu by a bunch of times, driving just north or just south of it, but never managing to fit it in. I had heard differing opinions about it, and I hadn’t felt in a hurry to get there, but I have a desire to see everywhere so it had to be experienced, and it fit into our plans on the way from Phoenix to Laughlin.
Coming up highway 95, along the Colorado River is a contrast of dry harsh desert and turquoise oases along the water. There are marinas, RV parks and other businesses along the river, all the way up to the Parker Dam, then the river turns northwest and you come upon a number of state parks and BLM land. Every so often you see an outcropping of RVs on the right hand side boon-docking on the public lands. Just before Lake Havasu city came into view, we came across an area that was completely overrun with RVs, one on top of another. There seemed to be some sort of derby or OHV motor sports event going on there.
Driving into Lake Havasu, I got Harold to turn off and head into the east part of town up on the hill and then down towards the lake. This area looked to be a has-been area, now taken over by gun ranges, massage shops, nails, and guns shops, the lower retail rent area. When we got down to the bottom we crossed over the London Bridge.
I began to sing. “London bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down. London bridge is falling down, my fair lady!”
Harold looked over at me questioningly. “Huh? What?”
“We just went over London bridge! Wasn’t it exciting?” I responded, rolling my eyes.
“Oh! This is where they put the London bridge? You never told me that was here.”
So we drove around the island that is pretty much just some expensive RV resorts with a very touristy restaurant and shop area near the bridge. We got out and walked around a bit, but we just weren’t feeling it. We decided to head up to the BLM lands north of the city instead.
Up at the very north end of town, just past the Walmart on the west side, and the airport on the east side, is the turn-off to the Craggy Wash BLM Campground. We drove up the winding gravel road in a narrow cavern between some pretty high desert hills. I suppose they call them mountains, but being from BC, where mountains are huge, I hesitate to call them that.
The canyon opened up into a slightly larger expanse where an RV was parked and two men stood outside talking. A big sign told us to “STOP AND REGISTER!” So we stopped and got out.
“We’re closed!” Yelled the old man from the doorway of his RV. He wore a big white cowboy hat, and his skinny, grizzled face was covered in snow white hair.
I was confused. Do BLMs close? I stood there, rooted, trying to figure out what to say.
“Come back tomorrow!” He yelled again, waving his hand at us dismissively, sounding even more grumpy.
“What do you mean? We can’t camp here?” I finally came up with some adequate words.
The other man laughed. I looked over at him more closely. Dark where the other was so white. Dark hair, moustache and beard, tinged with grey, about our age, friendly and jovial, a big smile lit up his face. He was as friendly as the camp host wasn’t. “Just go find yourself a spot to camp and come back tomorrow to register.”
It finally clicked in my head. Duh! The camp host wasn’t working today, on Sunday. It didn’t mean the BLM was closed. That had made no sense to me. Of course it hadn’t. It was nonsensical. He didn’t have to be so grumpy about it.
I had read that Craggy Wash had been getting a name for itself as a very rough area with some dangerous people. We had some friends tell us they had stopped staying there after more than one run-in, but my parents had told us they loved the place, so we felt we had to give it a try. Their advice was to not just pull into the big area at the front where everyone else does but to go back to the empty spots. We followed their advice and came to an empty enough space that gave us room to breathe, in a very pretty area, that wasn’t too far up. We were staying only one night after all.
We loved Craggy Wash. We stayed up late into the night around the campfire, drinking Blackberry Jalapeno Margaritas (recipe here!), looking up at the stars in the gorgeous clear black desert sky. I’m not sure if I can still call them Margaritas – we were all out of tequila so I had to sub in vodka, but whatever you’d call them, they were great!
The next day we hiked all over the hills and down into canyons. The temperature was just perfect. I could feel the warmth of the sun on my head and back and a breeze through my hair. I used to think the desert was a barren wasteland, but the more time we spend here, the more beauty I see. I was enjoying myself so much climbing up one of the craggy hills, and didn’t pay attention to the tough downhill until we were all the way on the other side.
I grew most worried for the dogs, especially Toonie (our chihuahua), but I let her go and she was down in no time, without an issue. We’ve found in the past, that she really is amazingly good going up and down very steep hills. I guess, being so small and lightweight (just under 5lbs) has it’s perks.
Teddy was a little more hesitant and didn’t like it when the gravel started rolling down under his feet. Once Toonie was down the hill with Harold, I took Teddy around the hill on a less steep descent and we made it down without a problem. The only one of us injured at all was my pants – I ended up with a hole in the butt where I’d had to slide down like a 3 year old at one point. We came back dirty, dusty, and hot, but it was a ton of fun.
The Verizon reception out here was fantastic and it made no sense to us. Our Net10 phone couldn’t even find a signal. We were parked in a narrow canyon so how could we be getting 4G access? Once we started climbing we saw why. There was a cell tower in direct line of sight of where we parked. We had chosen an almost perfect location for data, if not voice. Go us!
In the end, Lake Havasu City just isn’t our sort of place. I expect it could be if we had a boat or were meeting people there. We’d definitely stay down below along the Colorado river and we enjoyed our too short stay at Craggy Wash. We’ll come back again and spend more time.
Overnight spot: Craggy Wash
Price: $0.00 14-day limit
Dump: Lake Havasu State Park
Water: Lake Havasu State Park
Garbage: We took our garbage with us to the gas station up the highway.
Cell & Wifi: Verizon – 4 bars of 4G LTE due to being in line of sight of cell tower. Net10 – Nothing.