Two years ago Skip and I spent several weeks in Laughlin, Nevada, on a winter getaway. Why Laughlin? Laughlin’s casino hotels are inexpensive but decent, and we found lots of ways to eat cheaply, too. We’re not huge gamblers, so we looked around for other things to do in the area. We founds lots of places to visit, but one thing we couldn’t do was explore Christmas Tree Pass, one of Laughlin’s top rated activities. We had a brand new car with us, and we had read that the twelve-mile drive was rugged.
So this year, when snow clouds filled the Midwest skies and the temperature dropped to single digits, we hightailed it back to Laughlin. This time we went prepared with our fourteen-year-old SUV with 275,000 miles on it. We were ready to explore Christmas Tree Pass and Grapevine Canyon, which is located along the pass.
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It turns out Grapevine Canyon, with hundreds of ancient petroglyphs carved into the mountains, is only a couple of miles into the pass. The gravel road up to that point is in good shape, so it’s accessible even in a car.
Farther up the road, however, we came across a lot of rocks and ruts. We would have bottomed out—or maybe even gotten stuck—if we hadn’t had our SUV. But it’s worth driving the entire road through the pass, which traverses the Newberry Mountains, and perhaps even hike some of the trails. As you get up near Spirit Mountain, the highest peak, you’re treated to spectacular views over the Colorado River Valley. You can see clearly into Arizona.
We also found a surprise when we got into mountains, something we didn’t expect at all. Watch our video to find out more.
We’re so glad we took our SUV on this road trip. Without it we would have missed out on a lot of fun—or gotten stuck.
If you visit Christmas Tree Pass
Christmas Tree Pass is located about six miles west of Laughlin off of Nevada Route 163. it ends at U.S. 95 about 14 miles south of Searchlight, Nevada. Visit the Exploring Nevada website.
Check Laughlin hotel rates here
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