The approach to Chloride, Ariz., from Las Vegas is a lesson in Southwest landscapes. Driving by New Deal-era, government-planned Boulder City, you'll pass over the thriving burg's raison d'etre -- Hoover Dam and the Colorado River's vast chasm. Seventy miles down the road, you'll soon realize the old reason people came way out West -- ore.
Chloride was the home of thousands of people living off the silver mines in the nearby Cerbat Mountains. Now it's the salt-of-the-earth residence of a few hundred souls. But with weekend re-enactments of gunslinging, bullet-ridden brush-ups and a preserved boardwalked old town, it's a true slice of the Wild West.
Today's Chloride is also all about crystals and color. As the desert doesn't yield many garden variety flowers, residents adorn their yards with glinting glass art. Las Vegas, the wild and wooly Old West still exists. And up a canyon road, tinted rock faces frame famous murals painted by artist Roy Purcell.
Stop in at the Mineshaft Market and official information center, where Donna Meyer and her fellow homesteaders will point out town highlights.
"Chloride is the oldest continuously-inhabited mining camp in the state of Arizona. There's been a town here since 1870," Meyer said.
According to Meyer, Chloride has a whole different vibe than more famous mining towns and the heavily trafficked Route 66 to the south.
"The basic reason for people to come here is that it's not like anyplace else. It's one of those odd little towns at the end of the road that has its own atmosphere, its own people, its own feeling. It's not tarted up for tourists -- it's real," she said.
For all its wild and natural streaks, Chloride is a welcoming spot for travelers.
-- Review by Greg Thilmont