The Ultimate Guide To Hoover Dam
Hoover Dam, a true icon of modern-day engineering!
The Hoover Dam, a mighty dam standing against the Colorado River, is an iconic landmark shared by both the states of Nevada & Arizona.
The Hoover Dam, straddling the states of Nevada and Arizona, is a huge concrete arch-gravity dam in the Black Canyon region of the Colorado River. The dam was built to generate hydroelectricity while regulating the water levels in the Colorado River as a measure against flooding. The excess water from the Colorado River is released into Lake Mead, which is one of the largest human-made lakes and reservoirs in the US.
Through in-depth evaluation and analysis, the Black Canyon region was selected, and plans were laid to build Hoover Dam as a combination of an arch dam and a gravity dam. An arch dam is an arch structure opposing the water flow and has room to slightly straighten when under pressure, and a gravity dam basically offers resistance using the weight of the material it’s built of. The engineers also paid great attention to the aesthetics of the Hoover Dam, as they created an exemplary modern-day architectural and engineering marvel that’s visited by millions of people every year from all over the globe.
Huge arch structure midst blue-green water, two clock towers, the tilted power line towers, and the views of the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, the scenery at Hoover Dam is monumental!
Built during the great depression, the Hoover Dam construction project provided jobs to several Americans, and the city of Boulder and Las Vegas saw an influx of settlers from all over the nation. It took a team of several thousand people working each day, including engineers, artists, and hardworking workers, to complete the construction of Hoover Dam in five years. There’re a few accidents and fatalities during the dam’s construction, and to honor them, a memorial was built at Hoover Dam.
Today, Hoover Dam provides electricity and water through its Lake Mead to the states of Nevada, California, and Arizona. Overseen and managed by the US Bureau of Reclamation, Hoover Dam is open for visitors to marvel at the architectural feat and options to explore the working power plant and tunnels via guided tours.
Take a stroll to marvel at the monumental structure, or take a guided tour to walk through historic tunnels and see the giant generators in the powerplant.
Here is my ultimate guide to Hoover Dam, featuring essential planning information, tour options, suggested itineraries, and recommendations on hotels and restaurants near Hoover Dam.
Planning Your Trip To Hoover Dam
Hoover Dam’s proximity to Las Vegas makes it a perfect day-trip destination and a popular stop for people headed to Grand Canyon!
Hoover Dam Operating Hours: Hoover Dam is open year-round, with access to the dam from 5 AM – 9 PM. However, the visitor center and tours are available from 9 AM – 5 PM and are closed on Thanksgiving & Christmas. The Hoover Dam visitor center is located on the Nevada side and is home to several exhibits, observation deck and is the starting point of the dam tours.
Parking In Hoover Dam: There’re three parking lots in Hoover Dam, one on the Nevada side and two on the Arizona side. Parking Garage at the visitor center located on the Nevada side, and Parking Lot 9 and Upper Lots located on the Arizona side. Parking fees are required in all parking lots except the Upper Lots, which requires a short walk to the dam.
Time Required At Hoover Dam: You can stroll and explore the dam at your own pace, which shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours. However, if you plan to do a guided Hoover Dam tour, you will need an additional 1.5 – 2 hours at Hoover Dam.
Hoover Dam Tours: The US Bureau of Reclamation offers three tours in Hoover Dam, one self-guided tour of the visitor center and two guided tours of the tunnels and powerplant, an excellent way to learn about the history and engineering behind the making of Hoover Dam. There’re a few companies that offer tours various Hoover Dam tours from Las Vegas, including bus tours, boat tours via Lake Mead, helicopter tours, and a few others. I have reviewed all Hoover Dam tour options in detail in the later section of the post.
Other Attractions Near Hoover Dam: Hoover Dam’s location, positioned on the border of Nevada and Arizona, makes it quite accessible from both the states and a great day-trip destination. Las Vegas is just 40 miles from Hoover Dam, and Grand Canyon Skywalk is approximately 100 miles from Hoover Dam. You will find my recommended itineraries in the later section of the post.
Lodging & Dining Near Hoover Dam: Given Hoover Dam’s proximity to Las Vegas, I highly recommend staying and dining in Las Vegas when visiting Hoover Dam. The lodging and dining options are literally overwhelming in Las Vegas. You will find my recommendations and top picks for Las Vegas resorts, hotels, and restaurants in my Las Vegas Travel Guide. However, if you need to grab a quick bite when visiting Hoover Dam, you will find a cafe at the Parking Garage near the visitor center.
Getting To Hoover Dam
The best way to get to Hoover Dam is by flying into Las Vegas International Airport and then driving to Hoover Dam!
Airports Near Hoover Dam: The McCarran International Airport (LAS), Las Vegas, Nevada, is located just 35 miles from Hoover Dam and is the closest international airport to Hoover Dam. The Boulder City Municipal Airport (BLD), Boulder City, Nevada, located 10 miles from Hoover Dam, is the nearest domestic airport to Hoover Dam but has very limited service.
McCarran International Airport, Las Vegas, is serviced by all major airlines and, given its proximity to Hoover Dam, makes it the best airport to get to Hoover Dam.
Train Services To Hoover Dam: There’re no direct train services to Hoover Dam, but you could take an Amtrak train to Kingman Amtrak Station, Arizona, the closest Amtrak station to Hoover Dam, located about 75 miles from Hoover Dam. Once at the Kingman Amtrak station, you could hire a cab to get to a nearby Rental Car company, rent a car and then drive to Hoover Dam.
Bus Services To Hoover Dam: Like Amtrak train services, Greyhound also connects several US cities to many Arizona cities. The nearest Greyhound bus stop being Kingman, Arizona, located approximately 75 miles from Hoover Dam. From here, you could hire a cab to get to a Rental Car company, rent a car and then drive to Hoover Dam.
Hoover Dam Tours & Suggested Itinerary
Hoover Dam tours are an excellent way to learn about the history & engineering behind the making of the dam.
There’re a few tours that are offered by the US Bureau of Reclamation at Hoover Dam, letting visitors walk the tunnels and see the powerplant at Hoover Dam. There are also a few tour companies that offer various tours of Hoover Dam from Las Vegas, including bus, boat, and air tours.
Hoover Dam Tours: The US Bureau of Reclamation offers three tours at Hoover Dam, a self-guided and self-paced tour and two guided tours led by an employee of the US Bureau of Reclamation. The tours are offered year-round except Thanksgiving & Christmas, from 9 AM – 5 PM.
Self-Guided Visitor Center Tour: Offers access to the observation deck and the Hoover Dam Visitor Center, with several exhibits and interpretive displays. This is a self-paced tour, and you can leisurely explore the exhibit area and enjoy the incredible views from the observation deck.
Guided Powerplant Tour: Guided tour of the original tunnels and the powerplant at Hoover Dam, along with the self-guided tour of the visitor center. Your tour guide will escort you through the tunnels and powerplant, which takes about half an hour, and then you can tour the visitor center at your own pace.
Guided Dam Tour: This is an all-inclusive tour, which includes a guided tour of the inspection tunnels passing through the center of the dam, riding an elevator to the top of the dam, along with the Self-Guided Visitor Center Tour and Guided Powerplant Tour. The Guided Dam Tour takes about an hour, and once the guided tour is complete, you can explore the visitor center and observation deck on your own.
The Self-Guided Visitor Center Tour & Guided Dam Tour tickets can be purchased only in person, but you could buy the Guided Power Plant Tour tickets online on the US Bureau of Reclamation website.
Hoover Dam Tours From Las Vegas: Hoover Dam is a popular day-trip destination from Las Vegas, and you will find a few excellent Hoover Dam tour options starting from Las Vegas that lets you enjoy Hoover Dam without having to worry about transportation or parking.
Hoover Dam Bus Tours: There are two popular bus tour options from Las Vegas (1) Half-day Hoover Dam tour offered by Grayline and few other local tour companies, and (2) Full-day Hoover Dam & Grand Canyon West Rim / Skywalk tours.
Hoover Dam & Lake Mead Cruise: This is an extraordinary way to cruise the tranquil blue waters of Lake Mead to see Hoover Dam aboard a Mississippi-style paddlewheeler boat on a full-day excursion offered by Lake Mead Cruises.
Hoover Dam Helicopter Tour: There are several helicopter tours offered by Papillon departing from Las Vegas, offering some stunning aerial views of Hoover Dam and gorgeous Lake Mead.
Visiting Hoover Dam, including the Guided Dam and Powerplant tours, shouldn’t take more than half a day. Hoover Dam, located just 40 miles from Las Vegas, is a popular day-trip destination for tourists visiting Las Vegas.
However, if you’re able to spare an entire day, I highly recommend adding the Grand Canyon Skywalk, located about 98 miles from Hoover Dam, to your Hoover Dam Trip itinerary.
Half-day In-Depth Tour Of Hoover Dam: There’s a lot to see in Hoover Dam, and if you’re a history / engineering buff, I am sure you would love and enjoy seeing the inner working of the dam.
- Hoover Dam Self-Guided Tour
- Guided Dam / Powerplant Tour
Full-Day Hoover Dam & Grand Canyon Skywalk Tour: This requires getting an early start, and you can spend only a limited time at Hoover Dam, but you will be able to visit both the Grand Canyon Skywalk and the Hoover Dam on the same day.
- Quick Self-Guided Tour of Hoover Dam
- Drive 98 Miles To Grand Canyon West Rim / Skywalk
- Spend Half-day Exploring Skywalk & Other Vista Points
Other Nevada Attractions & Related Posts
I hope you enjoyed reading the post, The Ultimate Guide To Hoover Dam, and I hope this will help you plan your trip to Hoover Dam. You will find other Nevada attractions in my Nevada Travel Guide.
Happy feeding your soul!
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