It’s easy for locals or casual visitors to take the Hoover Dam for granted, but the more you get into this engineering marvel, the more interesting it becomes. Learning the history of how it was built, and taking a tour of its guts can really give an appreciation for the icon.
“An art deco world wonder”
Hoover Dam, once known as Boulder Dam, is a concrete arch-gravity dam in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River, on the border between the US states of Arizona and Nevada. It was constructed between 1931 and 1936 during the Great Depressionand was dedicated on September 30, 1935, by President Franklin Roosevelt. Its construction was the result of a massive effort involving thousands of workers, and cost over one hundred lives. The dam was controversially named in honor of President Herbert Hoover. Since about 1900, the Black Canyon and nearby Boulder Canyon had been investigated for their potential to support a dam that would control floods, provide irrigation water and produce hydroelectric power. In 1928, Congress authorized the project. The winning bid to build the dam was submitted by a consortium called Six Companies, Inc., which began construction on the dam in early 1931. Such a large concrete structure had never been built before, and some of the techniques were unproven. The torrid summer weather and the lack of facilities near the site also presented difficulties. Nevertheless, Six Companies turned over the dam to the federal government on March 1, 1936, more than two years ahead of schedule. Hoover Dam impounds Lake Mead, and is located near Boulder City, Nevada, a municipality originally constructed for workers on the construction project, about 25 mi (40 km) southeast of Las Vegas, Nevada. The dam's generators provide power for public and private utilities in Nevada, Arizona, and California. Hoover Dam is a major tourist attraction; nearly a million people tour the dam each year. Heavily travelled U.S. 93 ran along the dam's crest until October 2010, when the Hoover Dam Bypass opened.
TIP: Do NOT park and go across the new Tillman Bridge. It is way high up, windy as hell, and crowded as hell. Take the lower road so that you can be actually ON the dam. That is where you want to be. Trust me.
One of the most mindblowing places Ive ever been, I absolutely loved it. This vision of the engineers who designed it was astounding. The care and design of the place is amazing from the largest scale down to the tiniest detail.
This is a must stop for anyone road-tripping through. It's easy to get to and when I was there the wait was minimal. Parking was a bit of an issue because of the number of spots available.
I absolutely loved stopping here! The view of the dam and of the bridge is just awesome.
Perhaps the most mind-blowing of all is the sheer enormity of the dam and the realisation of what it took to build this massive massive wall, and all its generators and inner workings. There is also a tour that takes you into the walls of the dam, which comes highly recommended.
I will stop here every time I drive through this area... you’ll experience and learn something new every time for sure!
Recommended - I did the $30 Dam tour, well worth the money, the guides are knowledgeable and informative; their opening line was "if you have a camera - TAKE PICTURES" - you even get to photograph out the end of 1 of the 4 ventilation pipes that are half down the dam.
Get their early, during peak season, which is generally around Spring Break. There's a security checkpoint, but you get through it pretty easily. Parking is pretty good, but it can get full. Crowds tend to come towards the middle and end of the day. Parking is about $7. There's a tour you can pay for, about $10 for a 30 minute tour, and $30 per person for an hour long tour. Even if you don't take the tour it's an incredible stop on your Southwest road trip. There's also a fun gift shop.
A must see when near Vegas or the Grand Canyon. I remember it being a bit tricky to park and a bit crowded, so would suggest going early. If I get the chance to go back, I would love to spend more time on Lake Mead. When you fly into Vegas you see lots of lucky people boating around on there...
I remember looking at pictures my dad had of the place and he would point to railroad cars down at the bottom to try and give me an idea of the scale, but you never appreciate it until you see it in person. James is right, it's mindblowing.
We went on the 30 minute tour and it was definitely worth the $15 per person! We went onto the observation deck and took pics and then walked across the bridge, but bring your water because temps were reaching 115F!!!☀️🔥🔥🔥 Enjoy your trip!
No doubt the engineering and the construction of the dam is a magnificent piece of work and one of a kind. However, the commercializations and the added security to create artificial traffic was a major turn off. I visited the dam back in 2001 and the place has turned into a touristy type of place since then. A private company operates the parking lot which charges $10 per vehicle. You can drive over the dam to the other side, park on the side of the road and walk over to dam.
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The Hoover Dam
- Sun - Sat: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
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Good for cultural-travelers.
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