A Las Vegas visitor will quickly find out that the local tour bus companies promote package deals for excursions to outlying scenic destinations, which can present a good bargain. The two most popular Las Vegas day trip destinations are the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam. The Grand Canyon bus excursion literally is an all day affair and there is about eight hours of boring travel time involved with the round trip. The better option is the Hoover Dam tour bus trip, which only involves only a couple hours of commuting, so there will be much more quality time that can be spent while there. Some of the Hoover Dam tour bus companies offer a total package deal that includes stops in historic Boulder City and the new Hoover Dam Bridge as well.
The Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge Catwalk is an important point of interest when doing a complete Hoover Dam tour, because the views of the dam from this high vantage point in the canyon are nothing less than spectacular! The long walk on the sky high catwalk can also be likened to a thrill ride, because this platform hovers 900 feet over the Colorado River. The catwalk experience definitely is an adventurous one, that is unless a visitor suffers from acrophobia.
The Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge spans the Colorado River between Nevada and Arizona just about a quarter mile downstream from Hoover Dam. This new bridge was designed as a bypass for old U.S. Highway 93, which was previously went across the top of the dam. Because of the increased traffic flow, the old two lane road across Hoover Dam created a bottleneck situation on a daily basis, so the new bridge helped to relieve the stress. The old original road over Hoover Dam road is still open and this drive is now only used by tourists visiting the site.
The creators of the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge realized that the Hoover Dam is a famous tourist destination worldwide, so a unique feature was incorporated into the design. A wide pedestrian catwalk was added to the side of the bridge that faces Hoover Dam. The catwalk runs the entire length of the bridge, but the only access point is on the Nevada side. The Arizona side of the catwalk is fenced off, so visitors have to have to exit in the same direction that they came from.
The Nevada entrance to the bridge catwalk has an ample size parking lot that can accommodate large tour buses and travel trailers. The entrance is designed as a memorial park that commemorates the workers that built this engineering marvel and those who lost their lives on the job. The memorial for the fallen war heroes Mike O’Callaghan and Pat Tillman is one of the prime attractions, so be sure to set some extra time aside when passing through. There are plenty of historical markers to view as well, so the bridge catwalk tour can be an educational experience for visitors of all ages.
The winding trail up the hillside to the memorial park and the catwalk access point is paved, so those who have mobility challenges can do this excursion. There are plenty of park benches and shaded areas along the trail that offer a chance to rest and relax. After walking through the memorial park, it is nothing but an easy stroll straight across the catwalk to Arizona or so it may seem!
There are a few warning signs concerning high winds that are all too easy to ignore when sheltered by the mountainside. When walking past the rock outcrop that shields the wind gusting through the canyon, a visitor had better be prepared to hang on for dear life! The cold air that is generated by Lake Mead combines with the canyon air current to create hurricane force winds on the Nevada side of the catwalk near this rock wall. The first 50 feet past the rock wall can be a treacherous windy area, but after passing through this breezy section the winds will be much calmer for the rest of the catwalk stroll.
The center section of the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge Catwalk offers spectacular views of Hoover Dam and Lake Mead from 900 feet above the Colorado River. The entire Hoover Dam electric power generating complex can be seen from the catwalk too. The cars on the winding Hoover Dam access roads way down below look like little toys from this vantage point and a look straight down into the Colorado River can be hair raising. The center section of the catwalk is a photographer’s paradise and this certainly is a great place to take a selfie or two!
A tour of the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge Catwalk certainly is a thrilling experience that will inspire memories that will last a lifetime! Hiking the long walk across the bridge is well worth it for the scenic views alone, not to mention the bragging rights that come along with conquering the fear of heights. When doing the Boulder City and Hoover Dam tour, taking the time to experience the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge Catwalk is simply a must to do, but be sure to hang on to your hat because it gets windy way up on top!
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