Photographing Lake Havasu City, Arizona is an experience unlike any other. Where else can one photograph parts of London, lighthouses from across the United States, the desert and a reservoir from the Colorado River all in one city?
Lake Havasu City, Arizona is located in the northwest corner of Arizona on a massive reservoir from the Colorado River created by the Parker Dam. Believe it or not, here one can find 450 miles of waterfront shoreline right in the middle of the desert featuring all types of water enjoyment including fishing, swimming, boating, and more. But that’s not all, Lake Havasu City is also home to the original London Bridge, lighthouse replicas from the United States, Copper Canyon, petroglyphs, golfing, winter spectacular pyrotechnic shows, and so much more.
Having only one week there, I was barely able to scratch the surface for photographing Lake Havasu City. Here are a few of my favorite spots but hope to add others soon.
As referenced above, the city of Lake Havasu purchased the original London Bridge around 1968 when the city of London decided the bridge could no longer support the modern day traffic. The bridge was dismantled and each brick was carefully numbered, transported to Arizona and painstaking reassembled over what is now the Bridgewater Channel. The bridge was officially reopened in 1971 in its current location.
Wide angle and short lens in the range of 17-50mm are recommended to photograph the entire or major sections of the bridge.
Since the bridge can be photographed from both sides, morning and evenings are both great times to photograph the bridge. Likewise, the bridge can be photographed from both sides of the waterway. As to be expected, eastern facing portions of the bridge are best photographed in the morning and western facing portions are best photographed in the evening. This means driving across the bridge both in the morning and evenings to capture all views but who does not love lots of vantage points.
The Lighthouse Replicas:
After numerous boating accidents along the shores of Lake Havasu, a group of boaters got together and decided the area needed lighthouses along the shore. Well the imaginative group decided that instead of building just any lighthouse, they would create a lighthouse guild and build lighthouse replicas from around the United States along every mile of an 85 mile stretch of shoreline. To learn more about Lake Havasu City Lighthouses visit: Lake Havasu City Lighthouses
I believe there are over 28 lighthouses currently built with more being added as funds allow. Depending on who I ask, the exact number of lighthouses changes so do not quote my 28 lighthouse figure. What is so cool about the way they guild built the lighthouses is that the Eastern United States lighthouses are on the east side of Lake Havasu, the lighthouses from the Western United States are on the west side of Lake Havasu, and the Great Lake lighthouses are on the island peninsula. The lighthouses are exact replicas and about 1/2 the original size but still rather tall and impressive lighthouses.
Split Rock at Sunset
Fire Island Replica
Camera gear recommendations vary greatly depending on the particular lighthouse since some you can walk right to and some are photographed from a distance and/or boat. My suggestion is bring lens from 17-200m, a tripod, and polarizer and you should be fine.
Based on the location of each lighthouse, different times of day will provide the best light. To photograph several lighthouses, I recommend photographing both in the morning and evening at your favorite lighthouses. For the lighthouses on the peninsula, I found morning light and sunset worked best while times of day for the eastern and western lighthouses varied greatly.
At the north end of the London Bridge, visitors will find a combination of shops and restaurants designed to look like an old English Village. The visitor center is also housed in the Village as shown in the first picture of this post. At Christmas time the Village takes on a special festival atmosphere.
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Each winter, usually mid January, the City of Lake Havasu holds a wonderful family event called the balloon festival and fair. About 80 different hot air balloons in all different colors and shapes from Disney characters to balloons shaped like photographers are filled with hot air and launched into the skies over the lake. The many vendors at the festival kept things lively and especially entertaining for families with children. From carnival rides, to fine art to great food, there was plenty to do at this three day event.
Lens in the 70-400mm are great for the balloons. I found it was best to hand hold the camera. For camera settings, I kept my shutter speed at 1/250 and faster, my aperture at f8 and adjusted my ISO as needed with these settings.
All day and a special night event on Friday night of the festival.
The rest of Lake Havasu City
Well, I ran out of time as I had to leave and take my RV in for a scheduled repair but I’ll be back soon to spend at least two weeks in this photographer’s desert paradise.
For camping there is a ton of wonderful boondocking both on the north side of town and a little south of town. I stayed at a location next to the airport which was super convenient as well as Lone Rock BlM. In fact I recommend BLM lands both south and north of the city. For those who prefer RV parks, there a quite a few parks with various ratings. Check out Campendium for the best information: Lake Havasu City Camping
Motels are represented by most of the major chains and well as many quaint local lodging options including some right on the water.
I think I counted 6 different grocery stores chains as well as the best stocked and cleanest Walmart I have ever seen. If cooking is not your thing, there are many restaurant options to choose from with selections ranging from great seafood to wonderful Italian entrees.
From great local shops, to a nice downtown to a mall with shops such as Dillards, the choices are plentiful. You should have no problem having most of your needs met.
Thanks for joining my Lake Havasu City journey and I hope to see you next week on another Road Trip Friday destination.