A Look at Land Tours

When people first think of Laughlin, they automatically think casinos, tournaments, gambling and all-you-can-eat buffets. But when visitors arrive, they can see there is so much more to the area than that. Sure, the Colorado River is also a big draw, and walking trails are near enough, but beyond that, there is much more to see and experience. If those visitors want to see all the surrounding area has to offer in the way of rugged beauty, wildlife and fresh desert air, that’s where companies like Laughlin Tours, Desert Country Cruising Tours, and Rocky River Adventure Center come in handy.

Desert Country Cruising Tours offer various tours to Grand Canyon West, Oatman, Hoover Dam, Las Vegas at night and more. For times and prices, call 928-278-9188.

For those who want to check out the local area on their own, the Rocky River Adventure Center rents off-road vehicles for that very purpose. Rent for the day or half a day. For more information and prices, call 702-299-1500 or visit their website, www.rockyriverfun.com.

The focus of this story is on one of the area’s long-time company, Laughlin Tours.
Owners and operators, Craig and Chris Young, along with their son Matt, understand the attraction one can develop when they see this area for the first time. It’s a powerful place and the best way to experience it is to be a part of it, if only for a few hours.
“We’ve been in the tourism industry since 2001 in Lake Havasu City, and here in Laughlin for about two years,” Craig said. “We’re originally from Massachusetts and we took a vacation in Key West. We took a tour on the water and saw that the people running the tour company were happy all the time—it seemed like a fun thing to do. So we came to the Colorado River to do tour-related things, like boat rentals, boat tours, jeep rentals and desert tours out of Havasu. It just morphed into what we’re doing now. Our son, Matt runs the business in Havasu and we opened one here in Laughlin.”
Taking the “plunge” in land tours has been the right move for the Youngs.
“It’s far more interesting than what I could have figured on,” Craig said. “Everybody you take on the tours is happy to be doing it. They’re on vacation, they’re out of their element and everybody’s having a good time. So to us it doesn’t feel like a job when you’re out with a bunch of people who are enjoying themselves.”
He said the tours accommodate smaller numbers of people.
“We do small personalized tours in passenger vans,” he said. “We keep the tours small, we talk to the people about what they’re seeing, and for some it’s like being on another planet. Our guides talk about the history of the area, and the different plants and animals they’re not used to seeing.”
Laughlin Tours offers six different tours of the area—Grand Canyon West and the world-famous Skywalk & the Ranch; Hoover Dam and historic Boulder City; Grand Canyon Caverns/Animal Park/Route 66 combination tour; Oatman/Route 66 combination tour; and Grand Canyon Journey to the Bottom, (however this tour is only offered in the latter part of the year, around the first week of November, because of the heat).
“Our most popular destination is Grand Canyon West,” Craig said. “Along the way we often times see wildlife—desert bighorn sheep, pronghorn, and javelina. We also often see wild horses. For people who have never seen these things, it’s a pretty big deal.
“The Oatman/Route 66 combo tour is interesting and local—and visitors like that it’s not all day. We also take them to the Route 66 Visitors Center and Museum in Kingman. We take the old Route 66 back way into Oatman. Because of that winding road, it’s a pretty exciting drive through the Black Mountains.
“With our Grand Canyon tour we also include lunch at a resort so it’s really a well-rounded day—it’s about an 8 to 9 hour day,” he said. “Not many people go down there. A lot of the rafting companies go in and out of there, but not many people because you need the right kind of vehicle.
“We have a one-ton, high clearance van, that’s got a heavy duty suspension, and it’s ideal for those conditions. That’s what we’re taking down there. You definitely have to have a high clearance vehicle to get down there,” he said.
The desert offers a different kind of beauty, and once you’ve experienced it, it stays with you.
“Rugged beauty is what we call it, because it’s so different from the Midwest and the Northwest,” he said. “It has an incredible beauty all its own. As tour guides, we’re telling people what they’re seeing and experiencing. They seem to like that feeling and understanding especially when they see those things up close. Sometimes we find artifacts while we’re out.
“We’ve found desert minerals, turquoise, an arrowhead, pot shards, and bullet shells from World War II from training exercises in the desert. They’re always interested to know Kingman was a German POW camp.”
While most of the people taking the tours are visitors of retirement age, the Youngs said all ages enjoy the tours.
“We have a lot of visitors coming from the Midwest, and Canada,” he said. “You can usually spot them easily—they’re wearing flip flops in January. Along the way everybody is laughing and having a good time. Some times we have family groups, family reunions and all ages from babies on up.”
“We also cater to locals,” Chris said. “For residents who have family coming to town, it’s a great way to spend time together and experience the area as a family.”
She said they also will do special tours to places that aren’t on their list by special request.
“Absolutely, we will,” she said. “Custom or private tours—we’ll take them wherever they want to go. If there are places that are not on our regular schedule, sure we can accommodate people who want to go.
“One of the things that sets our tours apart—our tour guides are immersed in everything about the Southwest.” Craig said. “They’re history buffs, and some of them have been here over 50 years. They love what they do and I like I said, it doesn’t feel like a job when you’re out having fun with a bunch of friends.
“People like the smaller group size, and they like the personalized aspect of the tour,” Craig said. “We also cater to people with special needs. If they need help with walkers, wheelchairs or whatever their disabilities, we can help with that.”
“We’re very proud of our customer service and work ethic that has been in place from day one,” Chris added. “We’ve never cancelled on anybody and we’ve never left anybody hanging. Everyone here finishes the day with a big smile.”
Laughlin Tours also received the 2015 Community Achievement Award for Tourism.
For more information about Laughlin Tours, call 702-420-5345 or 5063, or visit their website: www.laughlintours.net. Their email address is info@laughlintours.net.