Located on the Colorado River, Bullhead City is a thriving community where striking scenic beauty provides the backdrop for a host of attractions and outdoor recreation activities.
Gold miners first began settling the area in the mid-1800s. The community now known as Bullhead City first began as Hardyville, when William Harrison Hardy began operating a ferry, trading post and inn on the Colorado River in 1864. A historical marker is located on the actual site, near the corner of Highway 95 and Plata Drive. The nearby Hardyville Pioneer Cemetery contains nearly two-dozen graves from the time period.
The modern beginnings of the city are tied to the construction of Davis Dam, which began in 1942, but halted because World War II consumed necessary materials. One year after the war ended, construction resumed and the dam was completed in 1950. Davis Dam is named after the late Arthur Powell Davis, director of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation from 1914 until 1923. It provides hydroelectric power to cities throughout the Southwest, controling the Colorado River flows to prevent flooding and manages the water resources in the region.
Davis Dam construction workers and their families lived in a community at the foot of the dam, called Davis Camp. Eventually, the town that sprang up to support the growing population was named Bullhead City after a rock island in the Colorado River that resembled the shoulders and head of a bull with large, curved horns. Over time, the rock was submerged under the rising waters of Lake Mohave as they backed up behind Davis Dam in the early 1950s. In the 1960s, developers began advertising local subdivisions in the Southern California area and the retirement population began to grow. Bullhead City was incorporated in 1984. The population has grown from just over 10,000 residents in 1980 to nearly 40,000 reported in 2010, with an estimated population of 75,000 in a 20-mile radius in 2008.The Arizona Veterans Memorial stands nine feet high, 40 feet wide and displays the flags of Arizona, the U.S. and each branch of the armed services. The memorial exhibits 11 bronze plaques holding the names of more than 3,000 service men and women from the state of Arizona who were killed in all wars and armed conflicts in the last 100 years. On each side of the curved memorial wall are giant bronze eagles surrounded by 50 stars, each representing one of the 50 states. The riverfront memorial park is open year-round and admission is free.
The Colorado River Valley is known across the Southwest as a year-round vacation paradise, offering a choice between the cold, fast-flowing Colorado River and the warm, smooth waters of Lake Mohave. Both are perfect for water sports such as boating, water skiing, personal watercraft and sport fishing throughout the year. Fishing has always been one of the region’s claims to fame. Local fishing guides report catching striper in the 20- to 30-pound range almost daily, and believe there are still even larger fish to be found in the Bullhead City area.
Regular special events like rodeos, the annual River Regatta, an annual motorcycle rally, burro (not really) bar-b-que, chili cook-offs and festivals provide family friendly activities with a perfect climate for outdoor recreation all year long. A variety of lodging, dining and shopping experiences are offered by the area’s many businesses and gaming, along with top-ranked entertainment, are located just across the Colorado River in Laughlin, as well as on the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe’s reservation to the south.
For a vacation long or short, Bullhead City is a hub for enjoying many interesting activities in the surrounding region. The area’s wide selection of accommodations—from campgrounds and RV parks to motels and full-service resort hotels—makes the Colorado River Valley a great vacation value.