Hoover Dam/Lake Mead, Las Vegas
The colossal Hoover Dam was completed in 1935 giving this desert region and Las Vegas a reliable water supply from the Colorado River and inexpensive electricity to boot.
It is a very impressive structure and definitely worth a visit if you are heading eastward to the Grand Canyon. You can take a $10 tour of the facilities (print your own discount coupon from the website for $1 off) or you can just walk over the dam and view it from both the Nevada and Arizona sides of the canyon.
Here's another money saving tip: park your car on the Arizona side, there is plenty of free parking here and you will enjoy the views as you walk across the dam to the visitor's centre. Parking on the Nevada side is $5.
Notice in the photo how low the water level is. Apparantly it is 50 feet lower than it should be due to an eight year drought in the region. The dam has lost 40% of its generating power because of this.
One of the treasures of Southern Nevada is Lake Mead, which was formed by the completion of Hoover Dam. There are diverse opportunities to get out on the lake itself as well as numerous trails in the national recreation area, several of which are located near metro Las Vegas.
My favorite trail - and a rather simple one, if you must know - is the Railroad Tunnel Trail which begins down the hill from the Alan Bible Visitor Center off Highway 93 (in between Hoover Dam and Boulder City).
It is a very level trail skirting high above the lake that runs for about two miles through five old railroad tunnels. Very cool.
One of the Modern Wonders of the World, The Hoover Dam is the largest Dam ever built.
We drove to the Hoover Dam and spent some time walking on and around it. It is very impressive. We did not do the tour that goes inside the dam, but I have heard it is quite interesting, if you like that kind of thing...
We didn't go because we wanted to explore the area more. We ended up renting a boat further down the river which was a better way to spend the afternoon if you ask me:)
Thanks to the Hoover Dam, the waters of the Colorado River filled the deep canyons which used to tower above it and created Lake Mead.
Today the lake is a popular spot for boating, fishing, waterskiing and sailing. There are also many campgrounds and marinas in the area.
We encountered this marvelous viewpoint near Boulder City en route to Hoover Dam.
If you visit one spot off the Strip, it would have to be Hoover Dam. Me, I've actually never taken the dam tour, although it is something I would like to do. No, I've only visited the dam and walked across from Nevada into Arizona. I wish they had the stateline painted on the road like in "Fools Rush In". Shame.
The arrow in the picture points to one of those wacky electric towers they build at an angle in that area. Strange.
The famous Hoover Dam, named after our 31st president, Herbert Hoover. You may remember this site in the movie, "National Lampoon's Vegas Vacation," starring Chevy Chase and Dennis Quaid. This dam is 725 feet high! The dam resides on the border of Arizona and Nevada. Behind the dam is Lake Mead (The largest man-made lake in the world) and on the other side is the famous Colorado River. If you want to get out of your car and see this dam, the only way is to pay a parking fee of $5, after which, you are allowed to freely walk across the dam. This is quite a sight to see, because there is just a 3 feet thick and 3 feet high wall, which you can look (or bend) over all the way down to the bottom. The dam is located 35 miles away from Vegas, in Boulder City, on highway 93.
The hours of operation are:
9am - 5pm (daily)
At the Hoover Dam, you can actually walk a few steps and you are at Nevada Time and a few steps back at Arizona Time.
If you go at the Hoover Dam when it's Daylight Savings Time, you will see that there is an hour difference even if you are just a few steps away. It's because Nevada uses the Daylight Savings Time and Arizona don't.
Since we went there last March, the time is still the same between Arizona and Nevada. However, the last time we were there, there was an hour difference.
A short drive away from Las Vegas and you can visit the Hoover Dam. Built between 1931 and 1935 this huge engineering construction to control the flow of the Colorado and forming Lake Mead was built 2 years ahead of time and actually well below budget.
You can just stand there and look at the river or the lake or take the Dam tour, which we did and it was well worth it.
You are taken into an auditorium first where you see a short film which is really interesting, even to me who is not engineering minded. The guy who talked to us was also really good and so interesting.
You are then passed to another guide who takes you through the tunnels and into the generator room explaining as you go what everything is.
If you are looking for an adventure in Las Vegas?- Go kayaking with Kayak Las Vegas. Their staff will treat you like family and share their passion for the outdoors. You will start at the bottom of Hoover Dam (amazing view), experience hot springs, see big horn sheep and other wildlife, take hikes in narrow slot canyons, and leave with a new idea of desert living.
Just imagine the neon lights of Las Vegas without Hoover Dam...It would have been impossible to electrify the whole of Las Vegas' Strip, including the sprouting new towns of Green Valley, Henderson and other adjacent towns had it not been for the construction of this amazing dam that generates power. This dam supplies electricity not only for Las Vegas but also for some parts of the State of California.
Travelling to Hoover Dam by car takes 45 minutes from the Strip. There is also a helicopter tour to Hoover Dam and to Lake Mead.
For us, we took the most scenic route which led us to Boulder City, passing through a vista overlooking the Lake Mead.
If you are renting a car, make sure to schedule half-a-day to go there so you can go to I-Max and watch how the Dam was built and eat ice cream at the souvenir store...
I know it's not really Off the Beaten Path, but compared to Las Vegas....Anyway, it's really cool. And combined with a drive through the desert, it makes a great day trip from Las Vegas. We didn't go into the museum, and we drove to the Arizona side to avoid paying for parking.
Lots of friendly motorcyclists were on the Arizona side too. Don't miss the scenic stop just before the Dam...it's on the left as you drive towards the Dam. There is a beautiful view and only one other car was there while we stopped. Makes for a nice "let's eat our lunch here" spot.
We had our rental jeep and we drove out to Hoover Dam. It was quite someting to see. Afterwards, we went to Arizona to explore a bit and came across this little place called Willow Beach Harbor where we rented a speed boat. It's located on the Colorado river below the Dam. You can drive your boat almost up to the dam through these great canyons, very cool!
There are quite a few off roading trails around Lake Mead, we took our Jeep around to explore them. We were the only ones in the area and since it was about 115 degrees F, we found a perfect secluded spot for a skinny dip! :D
This day trip is certainly NOT undiscovered but it really is worth the effort. About an hours drive from Las Vegas is the beautiful area of Lake Mead a shimmering oasis in the middle of desert. This huge lake with its yacht marina is quite a surprise after driving thru dry arid countryside. Theres a large carpark and a walk over the wooden pier out to the restaurant/shop area where you can feed hundreds of big fish jumping and clammering for the morsels of bread etc that tourists throw to them. Lots of water sports here and boats for hire. We went in June and it was HOT...probably 110F! When you leave Lake Mead drive onto to the Hoover Dam, again well worth the visit but dont get too near the edge if you havent a head for heights!! Theres a tour which takes you down to the bottom of the dam to see the turbines etc and the information is really interesting...like enough concrete was used to make the dam wall as would build a road from San Francisco to New York!!
The Hoover Dam is a short day trip from Las Vegas. The dam took 5 years to build and now supplies power to 5 states. Tours of the dam are offered and are highly recommended. Since I visited on one of the worst weather days of the year, I skipped the tour. But its worth the 1/2 hour drive out here, even if its only to drive across the dam and see the view from 1200 feet. Its been described quite accurately as an engineering marvel, and it lives up to that comment.
For those visiting Vegas without renting a car, tours to the dam are offered by various companies.