Hoover Dam is located about 30 minutes southeast of downtown Las Vegas on the Colorado River near Boulder City. Hoover Dam is a major tourist attraction for Las Vegas visitors and it is a traditional Route 66 scenic side trip destination. Winter and spring are the best times of year to visit this magnificent site, because the summer temperatures can reach the boiling point.
There are now two roads that cross the Colorado River at Black Canyon. Old Highway 93 still runs directly across the top of Hoover Dam from Nevada to Arizona, but it now goes no further. The new Route 93 alignment crosses the recently built Mike O’Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, which is quite an engineering project in itself. This is the second highest bridge in America and it overlooks the Hoover Dam. There is ample parking and the catwalk on this bridge provides unobstructed views of the entire Hoover Dam complex.
The signage for the road to the dam is easy to follow, but a security checkpoint has been added in recent years, so be prepared for a waiting line on busy days. Plenty of parking spots can be found on the Arizona side of the dam and RV Parking is a bit easier on this side too. However, there are steep staircases that must be negotiated to get to the Hoover Dam access point. The visitor center and snack bar are located on the Nevada side, which is where the tour bus traffic heads to. The Hoover Dam Museum, The Hoover Dam Workers Memorial and shopping facilities are all located on the Nevada side of the dam too.
Hoover Dam certainly is one of the greatest engineering achievements of all time! There is plenty of interesting historical information pertaining to the politics and planning of this massive project to be found on site. Work began in 1931 and the dam was completed in 1935. After damming the water flow, the Lake Mead Reservoir filled both the Virgin River basin and the Colorado River basin for over 20 miles upstream. The water from Lake Mead now supplies southern California, Las Vegas and part of Arizona.
Hoover Dam is a hydroelectric power plant that supplies cities with electricity for over 300 miles around. This source of sustainable energy definitely benefited the neon lights of Las Vegas and Hoover Dam actually was what put this city on the map. The dam workers spent their money in Las Vegas, because Boulder City was a clean living Federal Town. Nevada gambling was legalized back then, the mob took over and the rest is Las Vegas history.
A lot of manpower was needed for the construction project and keeping the workforce organized was a high priority. The federal government designed and established Boulder City, Nevada as the workforce basecamp settlement. Boulder City is one of the few federal project towns in America and it was designed to be a model for future city planners nationwide, but because of budget cuts, only the wealthy end of town where the management resided benefited, which is common practice. A memorial for the many dam workers that lost their lives on the job is located next to the museum. This memorial does receive some criticism, because it looks more like a memorial to the illuminati cult of elitists, which it really is.
Hoover Dam is a big place and the walking distances are deceptive in the crystal clear desert air. Carrying a bottle of water is advisable when touring this dam, because hydration is the key to keeping a smile on the face! This dam is not a good place for person to get dizzy from dehydration, because it sure is a long way down to the Colorado River.
The Department Of Homeland Security overseas all security operations at the dam, so parking in a restricted area is not advisable, because a search, detainment and a steep fine will ensue, even for a minor infraction. During my visit, a family of foreign tourists were being detained by authorities, because they chose to ignore the warning signs and they parked in a restricted area on top of the dam. It was quite an overblown scene, but that is how it goes when national security borders upon being a military state.
I highly suggest getting a belly full of good grub in Boulder City, before going to Hoover Dam, because it is easy to spend an entire day wandering around at this place. Guided tours that go inside the dam and the tunnel system are available for a fair price, so this is the best choice for those who want to gain some intriguing insight. Just touring the public areas on top of the dam is plenty enough for most folks because of the sheer immense size of this monumental landmark. It really is difficult to imagine just how big the Hoover Dam actually is just by looking at tiny photos and standing there in person reveals the true proportions.
Be sure to pack a good camera when touring Hoover Dam, because every angle provides a good picture taking opportunity. I used a Nikon D90 SLR with a coated lens, but there still were many sun flare difficulties. The glare of the afternoon sunlight is extremely bright at Hoover Dam, so photographers would be better off visiting during morning or early evening hours. Las Vegas tourists who are interested in taking a Hoover Dam Bus Tour can find bargain pricing at the casino resort concierge desks or at just about any Las Vegas entertainment website. When visiting Las Vegas, touring Hoover Dam is simply a must to do!
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