Laughlin, Nevada

Laughlin, Nevada

Laughlin is a census-designated place and a small unincorporated resort town situated on the banks of the mighty Colorado River, in Clark County, at the southern edge of the US State of Nevada. Established in 1964, the town has been named after the American gambling entrepreneur Donald Joseph Laughlin, who set up the town’s first Riverside Resort motel and casino. A well-known tourist destination, Laughlin offers lots of gaming and water recreation opportunities for its visitors.

Geography Of Laughlin

Aerial view of Laughlin, Nevada on the Colorado River
Aerial view of Laughlin, Nevada, on the Colorado River. 

As per the United States Census Bureau, Laughlin covers a total area of 231.6 sq. km, of which 3.6 sq. km is occupied by water, and 228 sq. km is occupied by land. Located at an elevation of 170m, Laughlin is one of Nevada’s lowest-lying communities. Laughlin is situated approximately 140km south of the city of Las Vegas and 460km northeast of the city of Los Angeles. This resort town is located at the geographic meeting point of Nevada’s Clark County, California’s San Bernardino County, and Arizona’s Mohave County. The communities near Laughlin include Mohave Valley, Fort Mohave, Needles, and Bullhead City.


According to Köppen climate classification, Laughlin experiences a hot desert climate with sweltering summers and cool winters. The hot season lasts from June to September, with July being the hottest month, having an average high temperature of 42.2°C and a low temperature of 27.7°C. During the summer months, Laughlin is one of the hottest cities in the United States. The cool season lasts from November to February, with December being the coldest month, having an average low temperature of 6.6°C and a high temperature of 17.2°C. Laughlin receives an average of 5.35 inches of precipitation per year.

The Population Of Laughlin

Pioneer Hotel and Gambling Hall in Laughlin, Nevada
The exterior of the Pioneer Hotel and Gambling Hall in Laughlin, Nevada. Editorial credit: ehrlif /

In 2019, the resort town of Laughlin had a population of 7,965 people with a median age of 61.1. As of 2019, about 641 people (8.05% of residents) of Laughlin were born outside the country. The most common birthplace of the foreign-born residents of Nevada is Mexico, followed by the Philippines and El Salvador. The largest ethnic groups in Laughlin are the non-Hispanic White representing 74% of the town’s population, Hispanic White at 10.2%, African Americans at 6.82%, others at 3.49%, and Asians at 2.05%. All the households in Laughlin speak English as their primary language, and 96.3% of the residents are U.S. citizens. As of 2019, the median household income in Laughlin was $35,971, and the median property value was $157,200. The average car ownership in the town was one car per household.

Tourist Destinations In Laughlin

Casino Strip along the Colorado River in Laughlin, Nevada
Casino Strip along the Colorado River from Don Laughlin's Riverside Hotel to the Best Western's Aquarius. Editorial credit: RYO Alexandre /

After the cities of Las Vegas and Reno, Laughlin is Nevada’s third most visited casino and resort destination. It is also one of the top destinations for the RV enthusiasts of America. There are about nine casinos and one motel in Laughlin. The town’s casinos and the motel provide over 14,300 sq. m of meeting space, two museums, more than 10,000 rooms, 60 restaurants, a 34-lane bowling center, and a large number of boutiques, salons, and spas. In addition to this, the Laughlin River Lodge has a 10-lane bowling center. At present, about 2 million visitors visit Laughlin annually to attend high-profile special events, enjoy recreational water sports on the Colorado River, and for gambling.   

Big Bend of the Colorado State Recreation Area at Laughlin, Nevada
Beach at the Big Bend of the Colorado State Recreation Area in Laughlin, Nevada. Editorial credit: Supapai /

Several parks are also located in Laughlin. The Colorado River Greenway Heritage Trail Park, situated in the town’s North Reach, includes many picnic sites, restrooms, a pedestrian bridge, a large playground, and more than 14.48km of trails for walking, bicycling, and horse riding. The Mountain View Park located in the heart of Upper Laughlin includes a large playground, tennis, basketball, and volleyball courts, two softball fields, a skateboard park, dog run, exercise trails, and shaded picnic tables. The town pool located at the southern end of Upper Laughlin includes a large water park-style slide, full locker room facilities, and shaded tables. Situated in the Lower Colorado River Valley on the west banks of the Colorado River is an 8.49 sq. km public recreation area named the “Big Bend of the Colorado State Recreation Area.” The area features 6.43km of developed trails and offers many recreational activities like hiking, fishing, boating, camping, and picnicking. Several events, such as the Laughlin River Run and the Talent Quest National Finals, are also held in Laughlin.

Brief History Of Laughlin

Don Laughlin's Hotel and Casino in Laughlin, Nevada
Resort Complex of Don Laughlin's Hotel and Casino on Colorado River in Laughlin, Nevada. Editorial credit: Felipe Sanchez /

In the 1940s, the townsite of Laughlin was initially established as “South Pointe” due to its proximity to the southern edge of the State of Nevada. This early town consisted of a bar and a motel that served the construction workers building the Davis Dam, fishing enthusiasts, and the gold and silver miners in the area. However, after the construction workers left in the 1950s, the townsite was abandoned. In 1964, the American gambling entrepreneur Donald Joseph Laughlin, who operated the 101 Club in Las Vegas, noted the area’s tourism potential. Don Laughlin purchased the land and established the town’s first Riverside Resort motel and casino. Many casinos like the Bobcat Club and Monte Carlo were set up in due course. Several customers from the Bullhead City of Arizona started arriving at the resorts and casinos by availing shuttle boats for ferrying across the river. During the 70s, 80s, and 90s, this bustling resort town served as a major tourist destination and a gambling resort. From 1980 onwards, many more hotels and casinos were set up, including the Colorado Hotel, the Laughlin River Lodge, The Regency, and many more. The Laughlin Bridge, which carries more than 30,000 residents and visitors daily, was built by Don Laughlin in 1987 at the cost of $3.5 million and donated to the States of Nevada and Arizona. Several attempts have been made to officially incorporate Laughlin, but all these attempts have been unsuccessful till date.

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