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Arizona Trail Ride - Viva Laughlin!

2008 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Driver Side Rear Angle
Jim Brightly | Writer
Posted March 1, 2008

Four-Wheeling, Ghost-Town Exploring, And Trail-Riding

Although the road continues on over the pass into the Cerbat Mountains, you can park beneath the ruins.

Ghost towns to explore, trails to see, gold mines to tour, and a fine steak or crab legs waiting back at headquarters. Your wife wants to spend a week by the pool with restaurants within walking distance. Your kids want to play on their ATVs or PWCs. And you want to go four-wheeling. There's only one place where your family can do it all - Laughlin, Nevada!

Laughlin is about 100 miles southeast of Las Vegas and about 5 miles north of the Mojave Road trailhead, just inside Nevada's southern-pointing arrowhead alongside the mighty Colorado River. With California to the south and Arizona across the river to the east, the area is known as the tristate area. And, it's an area that abounds with trails and historic places to visit, including several ghost towns.

Ignoring the Colorado River flowing beneath your hotel window, let's start with some close-in easy wheeling spots. State Route 163 (one of the shortest state routes in Nevada - it connects Casino Road with U.S. Route 95) heads westward, uphill to U.S. 95. All along its south side are hills and canyons that seem to be designed just for ATV riding. There are plenty of places to unload the ATVs or to camp, and the trails are perfect for family four-wheeling on ATVs. Some of them might even present a challenge for your stock SUV. With the exception of some dirt roads leading to coves and camping spots on the shores of Lake Mojave and the Christmas Tree Pass Road, the north side of S.R. 163 is off-limits to off-roading because it's all part of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. (Christmas Tree Pass Road is an unpaved "shortcut" between S.R. 163 and U.S. 95 that winds through some very scenic rock formations and past an extensive collection of ancient American Indian petroglyphs.)

You'll find the broken ground between the parking area and the Golden Gem's remains very steep, loose, and rocky. Be careful! A walking stick may prove its worth on this hill alone.

Now let's head across the river for the closer of the two ghost towns we're going to visit on this trip to Laughlin: Cerbat, Arizona. Nevada S.R. 163 ends in the middle of the bridge, and Arizona S.R. 68 begins and immediately turns left at the Arizona side of the bridge. Follow S.R. 68 27 miles east through Golden Valley and toward Kingman. Hang a left on U.S. 93 (which goes across Hoover Dam back into Nevada) for 5.7 miles. Set your odometer because your next right turn, County Road 255, is very difficult to spot unless you slow down just before you get there. C.R. 125, a left turn, is very easy to spot. You'll follow C.R. 125 for a half mile, then turn right onto Cerbat Road. We'd suggest 4WD at this point because when we last visited the site the sand wash through which Cerbat Road goes is very soft. Just before the site of Cerbat, the road starts a shallow climb out of the sand wash until you're overlooking a currently operating mine just before reaching Cerbat.

Named for the mountain range where it's located, Cerbat is an Indian word meaning bighorn sheep, which were once common in the area (you might also be lucky enough to see wild horses in the Cerbat area). Cerbat mines began opening in the 1860s when rich gold and silver veins were found, and a settlement was born in the early 1870s (it was even the Mohave County seat for a few years in the '70s). Cerbat never had more than a hundred residents or so in its isolated location, yet it did have a doctor and a lawyer. Three mines were developed: the Esmeralda, the Golden Gem, and the Vanderbilt. Today, the Golden Gem Mill and the mine's head frame still stand among scattered debris, but nothing else is left of this once-active township. Please note: Keep track of your kids and dogs as there is a deep, uncovered shaft not far from the base of the mill and a few smaller shafts scattered about. Also, please don't bother the folks at the working mine. If they're bothered too much they could consider closing the road.

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