Hoover Dam

SR 172 (Hoover Dam Access Rd.)
Lake Mead National Recreation Area, NV 89005- Map It
Phone: (702) 494-2517

AAA Editor Notes

Hoover Dam is along SR 172 (Hoover Dam Access Rd.), about 8 mi. n.e. of Boulder City. Soaring 726 feet high (about 60 stories), this curved wall of concrete is one of the highest dams ever constructed. It's also a hugely popular day trip from Vegas, and with good reason. The Depression-era engineering marvel (built 1931-35) sits in Black Canyon, a ruggedly dramatic Colorado River chasm that's home to the dam, its mega-wattage hydroelectric power plant and a visitor center/tourist complex with all the bells and whistles.</br>Hoover Dam was lucky enough to be born in the 1930s, the peak of the Art Deco craze. Witness the dam's main plaza, a Deco-style beauty graced with terrazzo floor-embedded celestial diagrams and the twin, 30-foot-high bronze sculptures, the Winged Figures of the Republic (casino gamblers take note: rubbing the statues' toes will reputedly bring you good luck). Walking across the top of the dam, take time to admire the beautiful bas-relief panels adorning the elevator towers.</br>The Hoover Dam Visitor Center is a glass-and-steel building perched on the upper cliffs of Black Canyon; feel free to wander the excellent, upper level exhibits, many of them high-tech, interactive affairs. Once you tire of learning about turbines, transformers and penstocks, step out on the top level's outdoor observation platform for dizzying photo-ops, both of the dam and the downstream Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge. The Old Exhibit Building, built in the 1940s and located across the dam roadway, displays a vintage, raised-relief topographical map of the entire desert Southwest, a must-see for cartography geeks.</br>For the full, in-depth experience, the guided 30-minute Powerplant Tour begins 530 feet underground and visits eight of the plant's 17 generators. The Dam Tour is a 1-hour guided visit to the generators, tunnels and inspection points.</br>Note: Before reaching the dam you'll pass through a vehicle inspection station. Upon entering the visitor center, expect an airport-style security search. Food, weapons, knives and oversize backpacks and purses are prohibited; however, bottled water is permitted.</br>Guided tours are available. Food is available.</br>
Dam Tour $30. Powerplant Tour $15; $12 (ages 4-16, ages 62+ and military with ID); free (ages 0-3 and active military in uniform). Visitor center $10; free (ages 0-3). The availability of either guided tour is subject to elevator malfunctions and power plant maintenance; phone ahead for updates. The Dam Tour is conducted on a first-come, first-served basis; a maximum of 20 people are allowed on each tour. Under 8 and the physically impaired are not permitted on the Dam Tour.
Hours: Visitor center daily 9-4:15. Last admission 45 minutes before closing. Parking structure daily 8-5:15. Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas.