Off Route 66 – into the Colorado River

 California, Daily  Comments Off on Off Route 66 – into the Colorado River
Jun 172014


Back in 2012 – I headed out to Needles CA to start the restoration of the 66 Motel sign. It wasn’t until August of that year I first saw this little gem called Fender’s River Road Resort, and swore I would be back.

I was in contact with Fender’s manager Rosie a few weeks ago and we started talking about how to get the resort on the Route 66 road map, seeing the building was built around 1958 and has been open for business ever sense.  Fender’s River Road Resort has a mix of ways a traveler can stop off the route and enjoy the river. If you are driving in your car or riding your bike, they have several motel rooms. If you are in your RV and looking for a place to stay for a night or 30, they have an RV park. If you are a little more adventurous, they have a camping area where you can pitch a tent.

I decided to go out there for the weekend as there were several things which I wanted to check out. Getting in late Friday night, we went over to the Riverfront Cafe to have a late dinner. The place was busy and overlooked the Colorado River. My BBQ sandwich was good, the beer was cold. What else can you ask for?!?!

Saturday started with us taking a run over to check out the 66 Motel sign, the old Carty’s Camp Shell Station and taking a walk back by the original Carty’s Camp. We headed back to the resort and started walking around the resort while I was getting caught up on the history of the property. Knowing Route 66 AND the National Old Trails Highway is at the front door, and the Colorado River is at the back door, it’s hard to match a property like this one anywhere on the route. I spent a little time looking at the neon sign to determine what work was needed to bring it back to its original condition.

We ate at the historic Wagon Wheel Restaurant for a few meals and went across the street to Juicy’s Cafe for dinner Saturday night. Fender’s is located in the section away from the town the locals call ‘the suburbs of Needles as it is only a few minutes from the Wagon Wheel. You get the town a few minutes away but are left alone in your own little world.


The main draw to Fender’s is the river. We sat at the rivers edge with our feet in the water, drinking a few refreshments watching the boats go up and down the river. It was nice to just relax and not care about anything.

We spent Sunday on wave runners running up and down the Colorado River checking out Pirate’s Cove and then heading over to Topok. We then headed north up to Laughlin Nevada. It was great to get back on the water and get some sun and have some fun! The sunburn was well worth it!

My advice is simple: If you are looking to get on the water, plan on spending two days here. Fender’s works with a rental company across the river who can get you wave runners, boats and pontoons. It is nice to know after all of the driving we do to see Route 66, and all the time in the car you can spend a little time on the river before you head out into the desert. They are in the midst of bringing the property to what it once did when it opened in the late 1950’s. Drop them a line and plan your visit! Rosie is a wonderful host and wants to make sure your stay is pleasant.

Check them out via their website by clicking HERE or visit their Facebook page by clicking HERE.

For Sale – Historic Carty’s Camp on Route 66 in Needles CA

 California, Daily  Comments Off on For Sale – Historic Carty’s Camp on Route 66 in Needles CA
Sep 042012

The historic Carty’s Camp Shell gas station is for sale in Needles CA. The station was built around 1925 and pretty much most of the existing structure is still there and intact. There are a few additions which were put on over it’s earlier years to house the owner and their family back in the day.

The station has been modified with a new overhang and taller upright which held the big gas sign when it was open.

This was the building which brought me into Needles. It was a call from Linda Fitzpatrick who asked for some help / ideas on how to get this station back to it’s former glory. Linda has been the biggest cheerleader behind the restoration of the gas station, but the only ‘hurdle‘ has been it’s current owner. If a new owner can be found, the support behind any preservation efforts would be bigger than you know.

There is a ‘rush’ to find a buyer as the town is having problems with the owner. He does not want to do anything with the building, but there are so many folks who see the potential.

You can contact Linda by Emailing her at as she is a real estate broker and has all the information on the property.

This would be a GREAT little tourist stop along the route as Needles really is the ‘first town of the last state’ on Route 66. It is also RIGHT next to the 66 Motel sign which someone just restored (can’t think of the guy’s name right now!!) which, as we know, has thousands of folks stop and take pictures of.

Also, it is located within miles of both Laughlin and Bullhead City, which both have millions of visitors a year.

If you ever wanted to own a piece of Route 66 history – this might be your time!

Oatman’s tourist draws make it a lively destination

 Arizona, Daily  Comments Off on Oatman’s tourist draws make it a lively destination
Mar 062011

A former mining boomtown, Oatman, Ariz., enjoys life today as a popular tourist destination located near the Colorado River casinos and resorts at Laughlin. At least a half a million people a year seek out Oatman’s authentic Old West atmosphere bolstered by noisily entertaining gunfights, special events and charming wild burros working the crowds for treats.

Visitors from Las Vegas take U.S. 95 south and Highway 163 to reach the Laughlin-Bullhead City area 90 miles south of Las Vegas. Oatman sits astride Historic Route 66, about 30 minutes’ drive from the river. From Laughlin, visitors choose either an all-paved route or a shorter, partially paved back road to the ghost town.

For the paved route, follow this highway about 15 miles to Boundary Cone Road, turn left and head east about 12 miles to Old Route 66. Turn left and drive north about two miles to Oatman.

About a half-mile before you reach the town, note the sign for the Oatman Stables. Many visitors to Oatman include a guided horseback ride through the surrounding desert or a stagecoach ride through town. Horseback adventures cost $25 for a half-hour, $35 for an hour and $60 for two hours. Reserve your ride by calling the stable at (928) 788-1764 or online at

A few mountains and parts of Oatman itself seem familiar to fans of Western movies, for the boomtown served as a film location, notably for the end scenes of the epic Western “How the West Was Won.”

Oatman began as a tent town around mines developed after the discovery of gold in 1902. At first called Vivian after its principal mining company, the new town changed its name in 1909 to Oatman, after Olive Oatman, a survivor of a Yavapai Apache massacre of an immigrant family in Central Arizona in the early 1850s. Traded to Mohave Indians, Olive Oatman spent five years living along the Colorado until her rescue in 1857. By then, she bore tribal tattoos upon her face.

Look for information about Olive Oatman at the Oatman Hotel, one of the town’s original buildings, a two-story adobe structure built in 1902. The hotel became a favorite with travelers on Route 66, the Mother Road from middle America to the Pacific coast laid out in the 1920s. The hotel gained fame when movie stars Clark Gable and Carole Lombard stopped overnight after their March 1939 marriage in Kingman.

The hotel survived a fire in the early 1920s that swept away many of Oatman’s early buildings. Once one of Arizona’s top gold producers, Oatman took a hit in 1924 when its biggest mine closed. In 1941, the federal government mandated that miners turn to mining materials essential to the war effort. Oatman dwindled but still could rely on traffic along U.S. 66. In 1952, interstate traffic was diverted from U.S. 66. Oatman’s population soon dropped to about 60 residents.

Most thought the town was dead, but Oatman re-created itself. Building upon its proximity to Laughlin and later on the popularity of Historic Route 66 as a nostalgia highway, it became a tourist destination. Today, about 40 shops, cafes and bars line Oatman’s main street, part of Historic Route 66. Tourists throng the town’s eateries, crowd to imbibe bar beverages, wait in line to indulge in ice cream and gather to take pictures of the burros, descendants of old-time pack animals.

Most businesses stock carrots or pellets for the burros. About a dozen burros come in from the desert to hang out downtown, sometimes with spring foals at their sides. Traffic stops, for the burros have the right-of-way. The burros hardly notice when the Ghost Riders gunfighters stage their street confrontations at 1:30 and 3:30 each afternoon.

The creatures remain immensely popular with Oatman’s tourists, which long ago replaced gold as Oatman’s lifeblood.

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