Thirty miles South East of Las Vegas, on your way to Grand Canyon, at the Arizona/Nevada border is a wall made of enough concrete to pave a road from San Francisco to New York city, the Hoover Dam. The dam took almost two years to complete and it resulted in the largest man-made lake in the United States, Lake Mead. The sheer size of the structure makes it breathtaking whether you are looking at it from above, below or inside.
Getting To The Dam
If you have the opportunity, rent a car for the trip to the Hoover Dam. There is ample parking in the modern parkade at the site ($2 per vehicle), the drive is pleasant and you will then have the freedom to stop in Boulder City or Lake Mead. As you drive South on Highway 93 to Boulder City , take the Truck Route to bypass the town, it is faster and you can stop in Boulder City when you are returning. After passing the Gold Strike hotel and casino, you begin your downward descent towards the Arizona border. Rounding the final corner presents a spectacular vista of the high-tension electrical wires, throngs of people, cars, busses, trucks and the face of the Hoover Dam descending below your line of sight. You will be making a left into the parkade and then follow the signs and crowds on foot to the Visitors Center where you purchase your tour tickets, enjoy the interpretive displays and watch a film chronicling the history of the dam.
There are two tours available, the Powerplant tour and the Hoover Dam Tour. The Powerplant tour lasts 30 minutes and you will be part of a group as large as eighty people traveling down a well-defined tour path. The Hoover Dam Tour is approximately one hour long and you are in a group of no more than twenty people. In general the Hoover Dam guides are more experienced than the Powerplant tour guides and this tour takes you many places that the Powerplant tour cannot. There is no doubt that the Hoover Dam Tour is worth it.
The Hoover Dam Visitor Center opens at 9:00 AM and the first tour departs at 9:35 AM (last tour at 5:15 PM). You will want to beat the rush and arrive early. The dam is built in a valley which magnifies the heat and by mid-morning it can be stifling outside. There is much demand for the tours and you will likely end up waiting until your allotted tour departs. The vistas are amazing from along the top of the dam and it is best to take your pictures in the cooler morning temperatures.
Recommended – Hoover Dam Helicopter tour
Hours: 8:00 AM – 5:45 PM (every day, except Christmas when the Visitor Center is closed)
Parkade Costs: $7 per vehicle
Standard Tour Costs: Adults (Ages 17-61) $11.00; Seniors (62+) $9.00; Juniors (ages 4-16) $9.00; Children (Ages 0-3) Free; U.S. Military (in Uniform) Free; U.S. Military $9.00;
Hoover Dam Tour Costs: $30
Hoover Dam Tour Limitations: NO children under age 8 permitted
Other: There are plenty of restroom facilities, and a snackbar/gift shop on both the Nevada and the Arizona sides of the dam.