The Hoover Dam is a marvel of modern engineering and a popular tourist destination located on the border between Arizona and Nevada. The dam is pretty close to Las Vegas, and it attracts over a million visitors each year!
The dam is impressive even from a distance. Even just walking along the top would be amazing, and many people wonder if it's possible to do that for free.
Short Answer: Yes, you can walk around the Hoover Dam for free.
Long Answer: The dam is open to the public and there is no charge to walk around the exterior of it. However, there are many parts of the dam that you will not be able to see for free. Let's break down what costs exist at the Hoover Dam, and where.
Does the Hoover Dam Have An Entrance Fee?
No, there is no entrance fee to the Hoover Dam. Whether you drive, bike, or walk to the dam, visitors can freely walk along the top of the dam and take in the stunning views of the Colorado River and the surrounding desert landscape.
You do, however, have to pay to enter the dam and its facilities, to see the inner workings. This includes areas that you'd be taken to on a paid tour: the visitor center, the historic tunnels, the power planet viewing deck, and more.
Do You Have to Pay for Parking at the Hoover Dam?
The key to walking around the Hoover Dam for free is getting free parking. The Hoover Dam has several parking lots, most of which you have to pay for.
All of the free parking at the Hoover Dam is found on the Arizona side of the dam. Parking lot 9 is a paid lot but, if you drive up the hill from there, all of the following parking lots are free.
Find an open parking space, then follow the walkway down to the dam for your free Hoover Dam viewing experience! It's a bit of a walk but you'll find it to be worth it if you're really set on making your Hoover Dam trip free.
What Can You See at the Hoover Dam for Free?
We briefly mentioned that there are parts of the dam you must pay to access, but what can you see for free?
There's really quite a bit! There are several points of interest along the walkway, including the dam's generators, spillways, and intake towers. You can also learn about the history and construction of the dam through informational plaques and exhibits located along the walkway. With the right planning and mindset, you can absolutely put together your own free Hoover Dam self-guided tour.
That's not to mention all the amazing views and photo ops you can get! Knowing where the best places to view the Hoover Dam are will definitely elevate your trip.
In addition, there are several attractions located in the vicinity of the Hoover Dam. The Lake Mead Overlook offers breathtaking views of Lake Mead and the surrounding area. The Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, right by the dam, is the highest concrete arch bridge in the Western Hemisphere. Both of these attractions can be accessed for free.
How Much Do Hoover Dam Tours Cost?
We've established that you can indeed walk around the dam for free, but what if you want to have the full experience? While the exterior of the dam is free to access, there are some areas that require a paid tour to enter. How far will it set you back?
There are three kinds of Hoover Dam tours offered on-site, each with a different price.
- The Self-Guided Visitor Center Tour gives you access to many historical exhibits and an awesome observation deck. It costs $10.
- The Guided Power Plant Tour will take you through the dam's original construction tunnels, to a platform where you can view the power plant setup. It costs $15 and also includes the Self-Guided Visitor Center Tour.
- The Guided Dam Tour is a journey through historic tunnels and aboard the original elevator, seeing all the magic up close. It costs $30 and includes the above two tours.
Each tour lasts a different amount of time. The way to buy tickets varies, too. Tickets for the Self-Guided Visitor Center Tour and Guided Power Plant Tour can be bought on-site. The Guided Dam Tour (which is the most popular tour) can only be reserved on-site.
Is the Hoover Dam Tour Worth It?
Taking a tour isn't necessary to see the Hoover Dam. Frankly, however, it is the best way to experience this world-famous attraction.
The tours are the only way to get inside the dam, which is where the most interesting attractions are. Additionally, a knowledgeable tour guide can tell you much more about the history and engineering of the dam than the plaques around the walkway can.
There are plenty more reasons why the Hoover Dam is worth it. For the price, it's quite a steal. If you're down to pay for the tour, it's highly recommended!
If you're staying in Sin City, a guided Hoover Dam tour from Las Vegas could be even better. One of the tours we offer is a Hoover Dam Walk on Top tour, which includes a visit to Seven Magic Mountains, photos at the Welcome to Las Vegas sign, a walk across the Hoover Dam, and a trip to the Pat O-Callahan - Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge for sweeping views of the Hoover Dam.
The Bottom Line
You can absolutely walk around the Hoover Dam for free and many people choose to do this. There are also several other attractions located near the dam that are free to access. If you plan it right, you can have a fruitful tour without ever taking out your wallet! Beyond this, you can find out the absolute cheapest way to visit the Hoover Dam.
On the flip side, there are some areas that require a paid tour or ticket to enter. Most visitors to Hoover Dam opt to take one of the on-site tours, and/or take a Las Vegas to Hoover Dam tour.
Whichever option you go with will depend solely on your preferences. Luckily, there's no right or wrong way to visit the Hoover Dam. The important thing is that you do visit it.
Whether you're interested in the history and engineering of the dam or just want to take in the stunning views, the Hoover Dam is a must-see for anyone visiting the Las Vegas area!