By Jill “MamaBug” Frier

Way out west, along the Colorado River, the “west coast” of Arizona stretches from north of Hoover Dam to just south of Yuma and the border of Mexico. Although the summers can be even hotter than Phoenix, winter is a great time of year to visit, and the Colorado River and Lake Havasu provide a cool getaway for every water enthusiast all year round. Here are a few places we recommend you check out when you head for Western Arizona.

Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam
Built in 1936, the Hoover Dam is one of the largest hydroelectric power facilities in the country today and provides hydroelectric power to Arizona, California, and Nevada. One of the Seven Wonders of the Industrial World, the immense dam spans the Black Canyon between Arizona and Nevada, creating Lake Mead along the Colorado River. Visitors can see the dam up close by driving down a winding road into the canyon and parking to take a tour of the historic art deco structure.

The byproduct of this fantastic feat of engineering is 700 miles of Lake Mead shoreline, an attraction for water and outdoor recreation enthusiasts of all kinds. Lake Mead National Recreation Area was the nations first designated recreation area, providing 1.5 million acres of preserved recreational space across mountains, canyons, valleys, wilderness areas, and two lakes, Lake Mead and Lake Mohave.

Route 66 and Grand Canyon West
A bit further south as you head down I-40, you find many areas of the highway that run right along the historic Route 66, including Kingman, considered to be the heart of Route 66. Tiny towns a little east of Kingman also give you a taste of the historic Route 66, like Peach Springs or Seligman, the “Birthplace of Historic Route 66.”

Grand Canyon West is located on the Hualapai Reservation and is not part of the Grand Canyon National Park. Grand Canyon West has two main locations: The West Rim, which is accessible from State Route 93 on the way to the Hoover Dam and Lake Mead, is the site of the Skywalk over the Grand Canyon. The second location is Peach Springs, located along a well-preserved stretch of the historic Route 66 and is the gateway to beautiful Havasu Falls at the bottom of the canyon.

Lake Havasu
Further down the Colorado River on Arizona’s border, along Highway 95, you will find the world-famous London Bridge, now a permanent resident of Lake Havasu City. Located on the eastern shore of Lake Havasu, on the Colorado River border of California and Arizona, this area attracts visitors with its 50 miles of pristine lake and river waterways, laid-back community, and ideal climate for people who love the water and outdoors. Lake Havasu is also home to the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge and many undeveloped wilderness areas along the Colorado River.

About two hours south of Lake Havasu and Parker, you’ll find Yuma, a frequent stopping point for travelers between Phoenix and San Diego. As one of the easiest spots to cross the Colorado River, Yuma developed a unique and exciting history in the Old West Arizona Territory. Visitors can also enjoy the cool waters of the river nestled in the mountainous Sonoran Desert, play in the sand dunes, and visit many historic sites throughout the city. Whether you visit the famed Yuma Territorial Prison or the Colorado River State Historic Park, you’ll enjoy a visit to the southernmost point on Arizona’s West Coast.

Western Arizona is a great place to visit this time of year, when desert temperatures are mild and sunny. The cool Colorado River provides outdoor adventures, rich history, and natural wonders to experience. Take some time to check out the local favorites in each area, and be sure to check for more ideas for great places to getaway and visit in Arizona!