Scenic Arizona 95 ~ Colorado River From Parker To Lake Havasu

Scenic Arizona 95 ~ Colorado River From Parker To Lake Havasu

Taking a scenic drive along the Colorado River in southwestern Arizona can be a nice weekend excursion during the spring season.  The spring temperatures are usually moderate in the Mojave Desert and Sonoran Desert, so dehydration and heat stroke become less of a worry.  In another month or two, the extreme triple digit heat of summer will be something that tourists will have to reckon with.  For now, there is plenty of sunshine and comfortable warm air, so splashing the day away in the cool Colorado River is mighty appealing!  

The featured scenic drive covers a section of Arizona State Road 95 that runs along the east side of the Colorado River from Parker, Arizona north to just shy of Lake Havasu City.  In this region, it is easy to confuse U.S. Highway 95 with Arizona State Road 95.  Both of these travel routes parallel sections of the Colorado River at different points, so it is best to take a look on a map before going on this venture. Arizona 95 does run north from Lake Havasu City to Bullhead City across the river from Laughlin, Nevada. The old historic Oatman Ghost Town is near Bullhead City and an old Route 66 alignment rand through this town north to Kingman. Depending on the year from the past, Arizon 95 and Lake Havasu City were alternative alignments of Route 66.

When Route 66 was bypassed in the 1960s, the old Colorado River travel route saw a sharp decline in tourist numbers. The creation of Lake Havasu and moving the London Bridge to Lake Havasu City did help put this region back on the map, but the pace of the tourist season is still relaxed in these parts, with the exception of Lake Havasu City, which is a major college spring break destination. For those who seek some peaceful elbow room, the section of SR 95 between Parker and Lake Havasu City is overlooked by most mainstream tourists in this modern age, so this is an interesting scenic drive to set the sights on.

Parker, Arizona offers outdoor sports outfitters, modern amenities and automotive repair shops.  This is important to remember, because there are not many places to stock up on camping goods or to get a radiator hose between Parker and Lake Havasu City.  Things that folks take for granted can get kind of sparse out here in the desert, so it is always better to be safe than sorry in this region. Stocking up on supplies or snacks at the beginning of a trip can save a lot of hassle further on down the road.  

For those who demand luxury when camping out, the Blue Water Resort & Casino is located on the Colorado River just north of Parker.  Parker and Bluewater are both located on the Colorado River Reservation and this luxury resort is operated by the Colorado River Indian Tribes.  I took a little break from the road to check this casino out and to grab a bite to eat.  The atmosphere was really nice and the Spicy Beef Burrito was an awesome lunch munch! 

Boaters, fisherman and water sports enthusiasts of every kind definitely have the advantage when traveling along the Colorado River on SR 95.  Every few miles signs can be seen for Jet-Ski and boat rentals.  There are plenty of marine repair shops too. Bait and tackle shops are plentiful, so there is no excuse for not reeling a trophy size Striped Bass in!  

Along the winding road next to the Colorado River heading north toward Lake Havasu, the scenery starts getting interesting.  There are several scenic overlooks that offer good picture taking opportunities of the river, mountains and the endless desert landscape.  Campsites, boat landings and a few little riverside State Parks can be found along the way.  Buckskin Mountain State Park is definitely worth recommending, because this peacefully calm section of the Colorado River spells out pure relaxation. 

Many old time resorts from the classic Route 66 travel era can be found in this section of Arizona SR 95.  All a traveler needs is sandals, Bermuda Shorts, sunglasses, Hawaiian shirt and the modern equivalent of a station wagon to fit in with the nostalgic scene.  There are several interesting old western style tourist traps and steakhouses along the way that are worth checking out too.  Oddly enough, the old Route 66 tourist restaurants seem to offer the best dining value on western style food in recent years, so going on a scenic drive on this long road does have its dividends!       

As one approaches Lake Havasu City, modern resorts and heavily advertised hotel chains become more common.  Lake Havasu City offers its own unique charm and this town is the home of the historic London Bridge. The lakeside bars and nightclubs are a hot spot during spring break and there are peaceful lakeside spots that are perfect for a picnic too.

Those who relish the thought of getting away from it all, taking a scenic day trip on SR 95 along this section of the Colorado River certainly fits the bill.  The scenery is peaceful, the river water is comfortably cool and the sunsets are worth waiting for.  This Arizona scenic byway venture is very easy to like, especially during the spring season!                                         


Author: wildwestdestinations

I worked as a chef in remote resorts and National Parks, which provided the time to explore western travel destinations. I have a BA Degree in Culinary Management with high honors and currently I am working on a Masters Degree in Adult Education. My food and travel blog writing began as a means to generate income during college and now photo journalism has become my lifestyle.

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