Lake Havasu

AZ Lake Havasu City

Lake Havasu in Northwestern Arizonas, partly located in neighboring California, was created in the 1930s by damming the Colorado River and was originally designed to serve the purpose pf supplying the dry regions of Arizona and California with fresh water. To this day, water from the lake with a total area of 7800 hectares is being channelled elsewhere by aqueducts, but apart from this purely functional task, Lake Havasu  today first of all is a popular recreation area with many opportunities. The largest town at the lakeshore is Lake Havasu City on the Arizona side with some with a population of about 53,000. The town is a popular destination for elderly vacationers in the winter as well as for students during Spring Break.

Water from the lake, which is eleven meters deep on average, is pumped into two different aqueducts with the help of a pumping system. The Colorado River Aqueduct transfers water over a total distance of 389 kilometers through the Mojave desert all the way to Lake Mathews in south-central California, where it is one of the most important sources for fresh water. The other aqueduct is a part of the Central Arizona Project, the largest water project in the country. Covering a distance of more than 540 kilometers, in this project water is pumped into southern and central Arizona, where it fuels both the agricultural needs and those of the continuously growing populations of Phoenix and Tucson. Both aqueducts are regarded as engineering masterpieces. Another one of those is the Parker Dam, which creates the reservoir. It was constructed between 1934 and 1938. Of its total height of 98 meters, 72 meters are below the riverbed.

Lake Havasu is home to many fish species including bass, catfish and carp and fishing is one of the most popular leisure activities along the lake. There are a lot of providers renting fishing equipment or organizing fishing trips. Fishing competitions are regularly held on the lake. The great number of fishing opportunities are among the most important attractions of the area which lures more than 3.5 million annual visitors.

Most of these visitors find accommodation, tourist infrastructure and leisure opportunities in Lake Havasu City, the largest town at the lake. The city was created by developers in the 1960s in the same location where in earlier times had been a nondescript mining town. The idea for the development goes back to industrial magnate Robert P. McCulloch who had purchased a vast area with the intention of creating a residence for elderly people. McCulloch was also responsible for the development of three other cities in the American West. For his Lake Havasu City project, he was looking for a unique tourist attraction and finally found one in Great Britain. There, a Thames bridge was up for sale as it was constructed in 1831 and was no longer fit to bear the traffic. McCulloch had the bridge dismantled brick by brick in 1968. Each stone was numbered and then sent to America, where the bridge was diligently reconstructed as the London Bridge according to the original blueprint. The supporting structures were replaced by more modern constructions and in 1971, construction works were finished and ever since, the bridge connects Lake Havasu City with an artificial island in the lake. The new bridge fulfilled its purpose right from the start and helped raise interest in the newly-founded city so that McCulloch’s residences sold well right away.

By now, the city has become more than a vacation spot for elderly snowbirds, but has also become a popular Spring Break destination among American college students. As the customs associated with Spring Break usually involve lots of alcohol, loud music and a rowdy atmosphere, other tourists avoid the town in that time of the year. As the summer months in this region often become too hot, the largest tourist crowds are awaited here in fall and winter. The record low temperature for Lake Havasu City by the way was -4 C. In this time of the year, more precisely in February, the annual Western Winter Blast takes place here, a festival around the arts of pyrotechnics, of course including an extensive presentation of fireworks techniques. Further events worth noting are the Festival of Lights from the end of November until New Year’s Day, when city and London Bridge are illuminated by a million lights as well as quite a number of racing events for boats, powerboats or jetskis on the lake as well as for race cars and motorcycles on the Havasu Speedway. Annually in October, the bridge becomes the center of attention during the London Bridge Days, a multiday fun fair that also includes a parade across the bridge.

There are a number of special sights awaiting visitors moving outside of the city along the lakefront. In a collection that is still growing, reconstructions of light houses from across the USA have been set up in many places. These Lake Havasu light towers each are about one third the size of the respective original, but they work just like the originals. At the visitor center, a map of all light towers currently there is available. Those looking to move outside of the beaten tourist paths may find a visit to the hinterland enjoyable, where there are a number of hiking trails, an offroad driving area, free climbing opportunities and even - near the small town of Parker - a wilderness area which also has good hiking trails.



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