Searchlight was a rugged gold mining town until the construction of the Davis Dam across the Colorado River in 1951. This created Lake Mohave, which immediately summoned vacationers from southern California. Today no beacon is needed to find the recreational opportunities around Searchlight, a tiny enclave of about 500 servicing campers and boaters and outdoor explorers. Cottonwood Cove on the lake, about 14 miles to the east, is renowned for its largemouth bass fishing.
Planning a visit? Stay at Cottonwood Cove Nevada RV Park & Marina.
There are no stoplights to impede traffic through Searchlight on Route 95 through town, where you can find some small casinos and the eclectic Jack’s Trading Post. Down Cottonwood Road, the small Searchlight Historic Museum has an outdoor mining exhibit and keeps the flame burning for past famous residents, including silent movie stars Rex Bell and Clara Bow. The couple founded the Walking Box Ranch, which is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Also honored in the museum is Edith Head, Hollywood costume designer who won a record eight Oscars. Head spend much of her childhood in Searchlight. Also highlighted at the museum is the region’s colorful gold-mining history.
Hikers have long marked Searchlight on their bucket list maps of places to visit. Spirit Mountain south of town is 5,600 feet of craggy nooks and crannies that were sacred to the desert peoples of the Colorado River. The pygmy forests of pinyon pines and junipers give the access road its name: Christmas Tree Pass. Several routes of varying difficulty ascend the garden-like granite peak that is the highpoint of the surrounding Newberry Mountains. From the top views stretch to the Mojave National Preserve in the west to the Colorado River to the east.