BULLHEAD CITY — The river is open; it’s just a lot tougher to get there.
Traffic on the Colorado River was substantially less than a normal July weekend after Bullhead City’s decision to close the boat launches and beaches at Bullhead Community Park and Rotary Park.
The boat launch at Davis Camp — the park is part of the Mohave County park system and not under Bullhead City’s direct jurisdiction — was busy both Friday and Saturday. So was the boat launch at Fisherman’s Access Park in Laughlin, a park operated by the Nevada Department of Wildlife.
The boat launch at Jack Smith Park in Needles also remained open after the Needles City Council voted 3-2 on Friday to implement additional law enforcement and staffing to enforce a capacity limit rather than closing access.
Chain-link fence surrounded the perimeter of Bullhead Community Park. The only vehicles inside the park were the white pickup trucks driven by staff of the Bullhead City Parks and Recreation Division and those of emergency personnel who responded to calls for service.
On Friday, a few curious onlookers pulled into the closed-off entrances at Community Park, greeted by a sign notifying the closure by proclamation of Bullhead City Mayor Tom Brady.
Similar signs were posted on makeshift gates closing entrances at Rotary Park.
Meanwhile it was business as usual at Davis Camp, though there was a capacity restriction, and perhaps busier than usual at Fisherman’s Access Park, where more than a dozen empty boat trailers dotted the parking lot Friday afternoon.
“It was easier to launch here than to fight the traffic at Davis Camp,” said a man who identified himself as Rob, parking his pickup and trailer after putting his boat in the river at the Laughlin park. He said he was from California but owned a house in Bullhead City and usually launched at Davis Camp.
At Davis Camp, a typical weekend crowd gathered, some launching boats or personal watercraft and others wading into the water or setting up pop-up canopies on the edge of the sprawling beach.
A Nevada Department of Wildlife boat slowly cruised between the Laughlin Bridge and Davis Dam — NDOW is the primary enforcement agency for the river — while a variety of watercraft jetted past.
Despite lower-than-normal river traffic, there still were perils associated with use — or misuse — of the federal waterway.
On Saturday, two people were taken by ambulance to Western Arizona Regional Medical Center after the personal watercraft they were riding collided with a boat. The extend of their injuries was not known.
River and beach access in Bullhead City is closed on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through mid-Septmber. Beaches and boat launches will be open Mondays through Thursdays.
Brady made the proclamation last week in hopes of stemming the rapid increase of COVID-19 cases in the area. The Bullhead City service area, which includes Bullhead City, Fort Mohave, Mohave Valley and Topock/Golden Shores, has seen its confirmed cases rise from 94 as of June 1 to nearly 900 as of Saturday, according to the Mohave County Department of Public Health.