Lake Mead and Hoover Dam, Las Vegas
The Hoover Dam was construced in the 1930s. For its time it was a very advanced structure. I highly recommend the guided tour. Normally, I like to do my own thing, but this tour was both educational and also takes you to areas of the Dam you could not visit on your own. It lasted about 45 minutes and the cost it $11.
After or before seeing Hoover Dam while escaping the casinos of Vegas, you may want to consider a little 90 minute cruise on Lake Mead which is the largest man-made lake and reservoir in the USA. Aqueducts deliver the water to Southern California and Nevada. However, it is interesting to note that drought has affected the lake and you realize that the water level has gone down considerably when you see the previous "waterlines" on the sidewalls of the lake - it has actually gone down by 50.44% as of Feb 2008. There is also fishing, waterskiing and swimming at Lake Mead.
About an hour outside of Las Vegas in Boulder City is Hoover Dam. Constructed in during the Great Depression, this structures remains as an impressive work of engineering. A tour is available that will allow you to explore inside the dam. Be sure to take time to visit the museum and nearby exhibits.
The Hoover Dam is super close to LV. It is only about a 30 min drive. If you have about 4 hours in the middle of your day I would highly suggest taking a drive to hoover dam. You can take a tour of the inside of the Dam and learn how it was built. It is just fascinating.
The Marriot Grand hotel offers a discount to the Hoover museum – take it. The bus is beautiful, the guide informative, inexpensive, and gives you a chance to look around instead of paying attention to the road looking for the exit. The Hoover dam is so massive its hard to wrap your head around how much concrete, cables, and men died during the depression – (and its still standing!) Seriously, take 5 hrs out of your trip and sign up.
While in Las Vegas take a side trip out to Lake Mead National Recreation Area and Hoover Dam.
There are camping, boating and picnicing facilities at Lake Mead as well as open areas along the shore to stop for a picnic or a swim. Stop at the visitor's center and find out about the ruins of St. Thomas.
Interesting tours of Hoover Dam are offered and it is possible to walk from the state of Nevada to the state of Arizona along the wall of the dam.
Only about 30 minutes from Las Vegas, Lake Meade provides many recreation opportunities for residents and visitors. From scenic drives, historic sites and picnicking to boating, swimming, camping, hiking, and fishing, there is something for anyone who enjoys the outdoors. The lake & the park straddle the Arizona-Nevada border and stretch from the Grand Canyon to Bullhead city, AZ.
Lake Meade is administered by the National Park Service, and a fee is required for entry. A 5-day pass is $5, a season pass is $20, or a National Parks Pass--good at any park in the US--is a great deal at $50 per year.
I got one tip for you: wake up early and get there as early as you can. They open at 9am.
If you are visiting during the holidays or any other busy time in Vegas (which is like all the time) be prepared for the long traffic to get there. We left at 11, it took us 30 min to get to Lake Mead and from there we were stuck in traffic for about 2 hours to get to Hover Dam.
Once you get there, make sure you eat something because you will be stuck in Hover Dam for quite some time in case you decide to catch a tour.
I recommend to call ahead and try to reserve or buy tour tickets online. Chances are they will be sold out (just like anything in Vegas).
Oh, do not bring pets with you. There is a big sign on a visitors parking lot - no pets allowed. So I figured it would suck if you drove all the way with a doggy and had to go back.
Hoover Dam was built between 1931 and 1936 in the Black Canyon, 726 feet (220 m) above the Colorado River and in 1947 named after America's 31st president Herbert Hoover.
We had only 15-minute Hoover Dam photo stop on our way to the Grand Canyon West Rim. Hope one day we will be back for more. It's well worth a special visit.
If you would like to spend more time there and see the Hoover Dam in detail, you can book the Ultimate Hoover Dam Tour (6.5-hour trip: Government's Power Plant Tour + Government's Visitor Center and Exhibit Tour +A Walk on the Top), or Super Hoover Dam Express Tour (4.5-hour trip: 45-minute walking tour over the top of the Dam + Government's Visitor Center and Exhibit Tour).
More than 13 different tours are available, from 'Hoover Dam Exotic Car Tour' to 'Hoover Dam Mountain Bike Tour', from 'Hoover Dam Express' to 'Hoover Dam Deluxe & Cruise'.
For those who travel by car:
- Hoover Dam is located in a desert climate. It is extremely hot in the summer.
- Power Plant Tours are not recommended for anyone who suffers from claustrophobia, or has a pacemaker or defibrillator (because of electromagnetic frequencies).
- Pedestrians are prohibited from the top of the dam during hours of darkness.
- Trafic around the dam during holidays and weekends can be extremely heavy.
- Due to maintenance issues, Hoover Dam Power Plant tours may not always be available.
- Stopping on top of the dam in any vehicle is prohibited.
- All vehicles attempting to cross the dam are subject to inspection.
- Dam Power Plant Tour tickets must be purchased in person and are on a first-come first-served basis.
- No children under the age of 8.
Situated right at the borders of Nevada and Arizona, don't miss visiting Hoover Dam. Better still, you may also opt to pass by the dam as you make a visit to the Grand Canyon in Arizona. All of these can actually be done in a day with Las Vegas serving as your jumpoff point.
A two-hour tour is being provided for a fee but if you are just after photoshoots, you would have lots of material just walking along the top of the dam. Try to get there early in the morning to avoid the crowds.
Rising more than 700 feet above the raging waters of the Colorado River, it was called one of the greatest engineering works in history. Hoover Dam, built during the Great Depression, drew men desperate for work to a remote and rugged canyon near Las Vegas. There they struggled against brutal heat, choking dust and perilous heights to build a colossus of concrete that brought electricity and water to millions, transforming the American Southwest. A National Historic Landmark. What else can I say?
It is truly amazing to think that back in the day, this was built on time and under budget with limited resources. (Remember there was no OSHA at the time). I would recommend that you take the tour. If you plan to take the tour, read up on the making of this dam and watch the video on this. You will appreciate the tour a bit more. However the tour is not necessary. You can still see the beautiful massive dam for free. The dam separates two different time zones (Pacific & Mountain).
I've toured the Hoover Dam a number of times over the years and while some remains the same, the tours for me just get better. The years when you were not allowed into the dam itself were not as good and much depends on the tour "guide" you get. On my last trip, I lucked out with a very old guide that had been touring for many year. He enjoyed every minute of the tour and as such so did his audience.
The 4 year construction of the dam changed history in a number of areas from the construction itself to the landmarks around the dam. Power from the dam has increase over the years but for 10 years (1939-49) it was the largest hydroeclectric plant in the world.
It's probably one of the few Federal Projects that has actually paid for itself. The electricity from the 17 generation units is sold to the western US.
The Dam is 726.4 feet high and 1244 feet wite at the top. It consumed 3.25 million cubic yards of concrete to build. The power plant itself is only 650 feet long, 55 feet wide and 75 feet high. The plant currently generates 2080 megawatts of electriciy.
Touring the facility is an easy drive from Las Vegas by car or (using locally available discount tickets) a $35 tour by coach. The tour by coach takes 4-5 hours and avoids the hastle of driving what can be heavy traffic.
When you travel to the Grand Canyon by coach, most will stop at a view-point for the Hoover Dam. You can see that it is a magnificent structure just by looking, but by booking a tour, you get taken into the depths of the Dam. It is really very interesting.
It is a guided tour of the workings within the Dam. The tour guide explains how the Dam works and what kind of up-keep it needs. You are also told some really interesting information about the construction of the Dam and the people that were involved.
The cool thing is that in the middle of the Hooevr Dam, is the state line between Nevada and Arizona. There is a plaque saying this at the exact point, so if you so wished, you could stand with half of your body in Nevada and the other half in Arizona!! I did LOL!
Just recently (end of May '08) visited Vegas and took a side trip to Hoover Dam. Rented a Jeep for the day and had a blast. We didn't want to do the bus thing with 100 of our closest friends and to get up at the crack of dawn, so this worked out great for us. Made it to Hoover Dam by noon, not very busy at all. Didn't have to wait in line for anything.
Here's a big ticket tip - buy your tickets online, like we did - you'll definitely then be able to get in. Now here's the kicker - when you get there and pay for your tickets, ask the attendent if there are any openings for the other tour. There are only two tours, one is longer and you go deeper into the dam. This one you cannot purchase until you get there. I didn't realize you could upgrade, so we did. We were going to take both tours but that's usesless as the shorter tour is included in the longer tour. Only had to wait about 45 minutes for a time slot to open and then we were off. Killed the time by going to their gift shop and took in a little lunch. I will warn you that in the summer time (they said in a couple of weeks from when we visited) the dam is packed, can't even really walk on the top because of so many people - so upgrading if you get there late might not be an option. If you want to guarantee the longer tour, you might consider taking the bus tour.
We had fun and took a trip to red rock canyon after our tour of hoover dam. We took a 13 mile scenic car trail they have. Very pretty and so much cooler (tempeture wise) than vegas. I would highly recommend. It really was a great day!!!
Whether to get out of Las Vegas to clear the gambling mind or along your way to Grand Canyon, stop by Hoover Dam. It was engineering feat when it was built during 1935, flooding the valleys of Colorado River.
There is a visitor center showing the construction and facts about the dam. There are two different length standard tours if you have time to take them.