If you are traveling through America’s Southwest, then a trip to Hoover Dam is a must. The National Historic Landmark is one of the greatest engineering achievements in history. Built during the Great Depression, it remains one of the largest single producers of hydroelectric power today. Whether you are interested in feats of engineering or not, this awe-inspiring site does not disappoint.
The dam’s unique architecture and surrounding natural scenery attract roughly a million visitors per year. Many adventurers choose to see the spectacle through one of the many Hoover Dam tours available. Those traveling from Las Vegas to Hoover Dam say it is the perfect day trip. Learn more about this fascinating destination in this visitor’s guide below.
The History of Hoover Dam
Originally named the Boulder Dam, the Hoover Dam is the highest concrete dam in the Western Hemisphere and one of the largest hydroelectric power facilities in the country. It is located in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River between Nevada and Arizona.
The Hoover Dam was constructed during the Great Depression, between 1931 and 1936, to tame the flood-prone Colorado River. It protected cities and farms while supplying power to homes and businesses. Not to mention, it provided jobs for thousands of unemployed Americans. In fact, Boulder City, Nevada was created to house about 5,000 project workers.
In 1947, the dam was renamed after President Hoover whose vision and persistence had made the engineering marvel possible. Today, visitors from all around the world come to see the famous site for themselves. Those who wish to learn more about the National Historic Landmark typically benefit from one of the many guided Hoover Dam bus tours.
The Hoover Dam Visitor Center
You can’t fully appreciate the American Southwest without visiting the incredible Hoover Dam. The first place to start is the Hoover Dam Visitor Center where you can make tour reservations, learn more about the site’s history through exhibits and discover special events.
The visitor center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, except for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Admission fees for adults, seniors and juniors are $10 and guided tours of the dam can range from $12 to $30. Otherwise, there is no Hoover Dam entrance fee. You can visit the dam between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. at no cost.
There is a $10 parking fee to park in the parking garage or parking lot 9. For free parking, park in one of the upper lots on the Arizona side. These lots are open longer and provide magnificent views of the back of the dam and Lake Mead. However, keep in mind there is no shuttle service, and the walk to the Hoover Dam Visitor Center from these lots are approximately ¾ of a mile.
Getting from Las Vegas to Hoover Dam
Las Vegas is approximately 30 miles away from the great American infrastructure. If you are traveling from Las Vegas to Hoover Dam by car, take US Highway 93 to Nevada State Route 172. Once you reach Boulder City, take a left at the second stoplight in town and continue on US 93 for five miles.
You will then reach the turnoff for Nevada State Route 172. Take this road for about two miles until reaching your destination. Getting here is fairly simple as there are signs to direct you along the way. There are also numerous Hoover Dam tours departing from Las Vegas. In fact, Hoover Dam is a highlight for many tours to the Grand Canyon South Rim or Grand Canyon West Rim.
Crossing the Hoover Dam: What You Need to Know
There are a few things you must know before you cross the Hoover Dam. For one, not all vehicles are allowed to cross the dam. These vehicles include rental trucks and trailers, such as U-Hauls and moving vans. While RVs and vehicles towing trailers can cross the dam, they may be subject to inspection.
The Hoover Dam has an established checkpoint to perform inspections and prevent certain vehicles from crossing. This is primarily due to the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001. If you do not want your vehicle to be inspected, then you will not be allowed through the checkpoint. Additionally, there are no weapons allowed in Hoover Dam.
How to See the Hoover Dam
There are several ways to experience Hoover Dam. You can walk or drive across the dam, visit the visitor center or take a guided tour. The visitor center has insightful exhibits about the building process of the dam and the natural history of the region.
Guided tours offered at the visitor center include a 1-hour dam tour and 30-minute power plant tour. Hoover Dam ticket prices typically vary by the type of tour, the duration of the tour and the purchaser’s age. U.S. military members in uniform and children younger than three years of age can receive a tour for free.
There are also companies offering Hoover Dam tours from Las Vegas. These include helicopter and bus tours. Another popular attraction to see is the Hoover Dam Bridge, also known as the Mike O’Callaghan Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge. Reaching 880 feet high, it is the second highest bridge in the country.
Hoover Dam Tours
Get picked up from your hotel on a tour that takes you from Las Vegas to Hoover Dam. The Hoover Dam bus tour takes you on a 45 minute ride in a state-of-the-art, air-conditioned motor coach to the National Historic Landmark. Upon arriving at Hoover Dam, you will enjoy a guided V.I.P. Discover Tour. You will receive access to the Hoover Dam Visitor Center and its exhibit areas, observation deck and movie room.
For a more thrilling experience at one of America’s Seven Modern Civil Engineering Wonders, pair your trip to Hoover Dam with a scenic helicopter ride. In a 10 mile flight that flies 2,500 feet high, you will discover panoramic views of Hoover Dam, Lake Mead and the Colorado River.
The best Hoover Dam tour, however, combines breathtaking views of the landmark from the sky with a luxurious motor coach ride. Not only will you receive VIP access to the visitor center, but you will get to enjoy a delicious meal at Hoover Dam Lodge.