While most people head to the Las Vegas area to spend time on the famous (and fabulous) Las Vegas Strip, there is another pretty incredible sight not that far away: the Hoover Dam.
If it’s never occurred to you to hit up the Hoover Dam during your trip to Las Vegas, you should. In fact, Las Vegas wouldn’t even exist if not for the Dam.
The construction began in early 1931 and was completed in just under five years in 1936. And at the time of it’s building was a modern marvel. With walls that are 650 feet thick at the bottom, it took an incredible amount of time, manpower, and skill to find a way to stop the Colorado River from flowing.
It is currently a National Historic Landmark and rising over 700 feet above the Colorado River, is the highest concrete dam in the Western Hemisphere. So, needless to say, it is quite the impressive sight to see!
There are a couple of options for visiting Hoover Dam.
First you can take one of many tours that are offered. Some of these leave directly from Las Vegas, so if you don’t have a car available, these provide a convenient way to visit.
The second is to make the trip in your own vehicle and take your own tour.
The Dam is only 35 miles south of Las Vegas on Interstate 93, and it’s a great drive. Not only will you leave the sparkling lights and shining casinos of The Strip, but you’ll be able to see the really beautiful desert landscape that surrounds Vegas as you approach Lake Mead.
One of the coolest things to do at the Hoover Dam is to walk across the 1,900 foot bridge that spans the top of the dam. Virtually right in the middle of this bridge you’ll find the border between Nevada and Arizona. It’s a perfect photo opportunity, being able to stand in two states at one time!
If you want to take a tour, there are two available from the Visitor’s Center, a tour of the power plant, the inner workings of the dam so to speak, and a tour of the dam itself. The power plat tour is much shorter, yet visitors still get to see the plant, and take a 500 foot elevator ride down to the bottom of the dam.
The Hoover Dam tour is a bit more strenuous, it lasts about an hour, is a fully guided tour, and includes about two miles worth of walking, so that is something to keep in mind. In this tour, you’ll also see parts of the power plant as well as other areas of the dam. This tour is not recommended if you have difficulties or disabilities with walking as it does cover non-paved areas.
The dam is quite popular to visit, especially during times around school vacations. So, if you are doing a self guided tour especially, aim to get there early before the heat of the day and the parking lots begin to fill up.
This way you can spend the morning at the dam and then also take time to see the surrounding areas like Lake Mead and Boulder city.