Situated a stones throw from the California, Arizona, and Nevada borders, nestled along the Colorado River, lies a desert oasis where thrill-seeking gamblers and river rats congregate to escape the daily grind. But every April, the unincorporated city of Laughlin, Nevada, hosts the Laughlin River Run (LRR) where motorcyclists come from far and wide to accomplish one similar goal: to party like it’s 1999. And the 30th anniversary of the River Run, April 25-29, didn’t disappoint in the slightest.
Arriving Thursday, April 26 aboard a 2012 Victory Hard-Ball, the streets were flooded with baggers rolling down the main drag, Casino Drive. The ride in was a piece of cake. Normally taking the easy route (Hwy 40 via 15 north from Riverside, California), we ventured the majority of desert stretch up the 15, then headed east through Nipton and the Mojave National Preserve. If you’re coming from Cali, Nipton Road (SR 164) from the 15 cuts out the monotony of highway riding and is a nice alternative since it’s relatively scarce. The landscape through the preserve is also pleasantly scenic.
After pulling into the Aquarius Casino Resort—our home base for the weekend—the hotel’s parking attendants were turning non-guest bikes away due to overcrowding; things were looking good, a good sign of attendance. Overall, the weekend was packed with baggers and people of all shapes and sizes, especially along the vendor villages located up and down the strip of Casino Drive. The Aquarius Hotel was originally the Flamingo Hilton, then the Flamingo Laughlin, ultimately becoming the Aquarius Casino Resort in 2005. The Aquarius is the largest hotel and casino in Laughlin featuring two 18-floor towers with almost 2,000 rooms, a 57,000-square-foot casino with sports book, table games, and slot machines.
After checking in and downing a cold one, we trekked on foot in search for shenanigans up and down Casino Drive. As usual, the Riverside Resort and Casino, which always serves as a hotspot for attendees again was swarming with people perusing various vendors’ new motorcycle parts and gear. After visiting some friends in the Riverside village, we headed north on the strip toward the Colorado Belle to visit even more parts manufacturers. Again, the area was packed with plenty of eager consumers looking for that new part for their ride or a just a good old-fashioned burger and beer to keep themselves satiated. At the northern part of the main drag lies the Golden Nugget Resort and Casino, where even more motorcycle manufacturers set up shop. Both the Belle and the Nugget had large stages for multiple acts to entertain attendees gratis throughout the weekend.
The LRR always hosts a great lineup of musical acts each year and for 2012 attendees enjoyed the aural delights of Ted Nugent, David Allen Coe, The Doors, Mini Kiss, and much more, but tickets prices were separate from the weekend admission price of only $25, which included an official 2012 Laughlin River Run T-shirt and pin, admission to the poker run, and more.
After spending the weekend in the desert hanging with like-minded individuals in search of the common goal of restoring sanity by forgetting reality, there’s certainly one thing to say about the desert, it’s calming. Maybe it’s because the heat cleanses your soul with excessive perspiration, but rejuvenation can certainly be had after a long getaway to the Laughlin River Run. We’re looking forward to the 31st Laughlin River Run, which is tentatively slated for April 24-29, 2013. For more information, visit laughlinriverrun.com.