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Whether you are visiting the Hoover Dam for the first time or the tenth time, there are some educational and fun things to do during your trip. The dam is a historic landmark in the southwest United States that displays one of the greatest engineering achievements. It is a popular destination to visit alongside Las Vegas because of its proximity. 

The Hoover Dam was built in the 1930s on the Colorado River and is still considered one of the engineered wonders in the world today. It is 726 feet above the floor of Black Canyon and stretches across 1,244 feet. 

It took 6.6 million tons of concrete to build the arch-gravity dam. Arch-gravity means its top is thinner than the bottom. A unique cooling system was required during construction to make it sturdy quickly.

Top Things To Do at Hoover Dam

Over one million people visit Hoover Dam annually and often take family members and young kids for a fun and educational experience. If you are planning a trip to the dam, here are some activities you can do there during your visit. 

Stop by the Visitor Center

The Visitor Center is marked by the bronze sculpture of a winged figure, aptly named Winged Figure of the Republic. The statue is a popular photo opportunity for tourists before going into the Visitor Center. The center is open almost every day except for Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

There you can book a guided tour, park for free and walk around, or take pictures from the observation deck. From the deck, you will be able to see both the Colorado River and Lake Mead.

Kayak on the River

If crowds aren't your thing, kayaking into Hoover Dam is a great way to explore. Las Vegas kayak tours are a popular way to get on the water. One seven-hour tour starts in Las Vegas and goes for 12 miles down the Colorado River to Hoover Dam. You get to see wildlife, do short hikes, and explore Black Canyon, among other activities. 

Tours are the easiest way to access Hoover Dam by kayak. If you want to kayak the river independently, contact the Bureau of Reclamation. They are the only group allowed to deliver your boat using the restricted road.

Related Reading: How Far Is Hoover Dam from Las Vegas?

Take a Guided Tour

You can book a guided dam tour at the Visitor Center and learn more about the history and construction of the dam. The Guided Dam Tour requires participants to be at least eight years old as it is a long walking tour. You will walk through the Power Plant and go to the observation platform. The tour ends at the Original Exhibit Building, built in the 1940s. 

You can also take one of our popular Hoover Dam Tours that depart from Las Vegas. Starting at just $79, they make for a great way to see the Hoover Dam with a professional guide that will pick you up and do all the driving. How far is Hoover Dam from Las Vegas? Not too far at only 45 minutes or 39 miles, but there isn't any public transportation that goes out there, so your only options are driving a car or joining a tour.

Embark on the Power Plant Tour

The Power Plant Tour is another educational tour you can embark on and explore a different part of the Hoover Dam. You can book the tour at the Visitor Center, but we recommend booking tickets ahead of time online. 

The tour starts with an educational video, a walk to the observation deck, the Nevada wing of the Power Plant, and then ends at the Original Exhibit Building. 

Cross Memorial Bridge

If you are looking for great photo opportunities, the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge is one location to visit. It connects the Colorado and Nevada sides of Hoover Dam with a welcome sign where you can snap a picture. Built in 2010, it is newer than the dam but is another remarkable engineering feat. 

Visit Lake Mead

Near Hoover Dam, Lake Mead National Recreation Area is a great place to visit while in the area. It is a large reservoir created by the dam and where you can hike, camp, or kayak. You can also swim or fish in the lake or rent a boat. Lake Mead is known for the gorgeous natural landscape, including valleys, canyons, and beautiful water. 

Related Reading: What Is The Best Time of the Year to Visit the Hoover Dam?

Go to Boulder City

Located in Nevada, Boulder City is another nearby attraction with many museums and historical landmarks where you can learn more about Hoover Dam. If you want more of the city vibe, you can find several shops and restaurants to enjoy and unwind.  

Walk Across The Dam

All of our tours feature a walk across the top of the dam, and for good reason. There is not a better way to feel the depth and scope of this massive dam than getting out on it and peering down the face of the dam.

Final Thoughts

The southwest has incredible views, natural as well as man-made. The Hoover Dam is a must-see for anyone visiting the area!

Las Vegas is known for its downtown strip full of casinos, buffets, and other fun activities. And do not get us wrong, Vegas is fun, but you shouldn’t miss out on another world-famous attraction just an hour outside the city: Hoover Dam. 

If you’re wondering, “How far is Hoover Dam from Las Vegas?” the answer is this city is approximately 40-65 minutes from downtown Las Vegas depending on which of the two main routes you take. Both routes are about 37.5 miles, with the time difference based on traveling on Interstate vs. back highways. The dam spans the Nevada/Arizona border.

No matter how you decide to travel from Vegas to Hoover Dam, the trip is worth making.

Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam was the tallest dam in the world when it was completed in 1935. It was an engineering marvel, also serving as the world’s largest hydroelectric plant from 1938 to 1948. The dam has since lost its records to larger, newer, and more efficient dams, but the massive structure is just as impressive today as it was nearly 100 years ago. 

The dam is 726 feet tall, double the height of the Luxor Hotel and Casino in nearby Las Vegas. The amount of concrete used to construct the damn could be used to build a 4-ft wide sidewalk all the way around the Earth along the equator. So while Hoover Dam may not be the tallest dam in the world any longer, it is still an impressive sight to behold. 

Touring the Dam

Just looking at the dam is worth the trip, but you will be surprised at all there is to see and do when visiting Hoover Dam. You will want to make sure to wear comfortable shoes and have your camera ready. 

Once you make your way to the observation deck, you can take in beautiful panoramic views of the dam, Colorado River, Lake Mead, and the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge. The bridge opened in 2010 and has quickly become a favorite of those visiting Hoover Dam.

Visitors can also take advantage of tours that take you inside the dam. You can walk through nearly 100-year-old tunnels and even ride an original elevator to the top of the dam. Those who enjoy the engineering aspect of the dam can also visit the hydroelectric power plant. 

Getting There

You can get to Hoover Dam from Vegas fairly quickly on I-515/11, but those looking to have some fun along the way should head out on State Route 147. 

This route will take you through the Nevada desert, passing multiple hiking trailheads, campgrounds, and overlooks. The highlight of this desert trip, other than Hoover Dam, of course, is Boulder Beach. The Lake Mead beach is just minutes away from Hoover Dam, making it a great stop either before or after you tour the dam. 

While State Route 147 is the more scenic route, the Interstate provides a good mix of things to see along the way and cuts down on drive time. You will drive by the Vegas suburbs of Henderson and Boulder City. Both provide shops and restaurants for you to enjoy if you are looking for something a little slower-paced than the Vegas strip. Boulder City is also home to the Nevada State Railroad Museum. 

The Historic Railroad Hiking Trail is just minutes from Hoover Dam. This family-friendly hike offers fantastic views of Lake Mead and provides the unique chance to hike through historic railroad tunnels. 

Don't want to drive? We offer some amazing Hoover Dam Tours From Las Vegas that take all the hassle out of visiting the Hoover Dam.

Related Reading: Things To Do At Hoover Dam

Have Fun

Now that you know how far Hoover Dam is from Las Vegas, do not miss out on all the things to see and do within an hour of the city that never sleeps. Hoover Dam supplies power to more than 1-million people in Nevada, Arizona, and California. Being able to tour this facility and learn about its history and capabilities is a unique experience that is more than worth the hour drive. 

And do not pass up all the other amazing stops along the way. Take advantage of the hiking, watersport, and other nature activities between the strip and dam. There is no lack of things to do in this area! 

The Hoover Dam is one of the most popular trips to take from the Las Vegas Strip. At only 45 minutes away, it makes for a great getaway from the city’s bright lights.

Unfortunately, public transit options are subpar in the Las Vegas area, and options for the Hoover Dam are non-existent. As of 2021, there are not any public transportation options to get to the Hoover Dam from Las Vegas.

What is a budget traveler to do? Here are the cheapest options to visit the Hoover Dam:

Drive Your Own Car

The Road To The Hoover Dam
The Road To The Hoover Dam

Did you know that almost 40% of the visitors to Las Vegas arrive via car? If you are in this group, this is always going to be the cheapest and best way to visit the Hoover Dam. Just jump in your car and drive! It is an easy drive to the Hoover Dam from Las Vegas, traffic is usually light, and there is fun stuff to see along the way. 

If driving your own car, make a stop in downtown Boulder City for some great old-time Hoover Dam vibes. 

Just outside of Boulder City, we always stop at Hemenway Park on our Hoover Dam Tours, and if driving yourself, we highly recommend you do the same. This park offers sweeping vistas of the largest man-made lake in the United States, and sometimes can be a great place for wildlife viewing. Rabbits, birds, and bighorn sheep are the usual suspects at this location.

Sheep At The Hoover Dam
Sheep At Hemenway Park

There are many other stops you can make when driving yourself to the Hoover Dam, and this is all possible only when you drive.

When you get to the Hoover Dam, you can park for free to explore almost everything the dam offers.  The free parking lots are all on the Arizona side of the dam and are after the pay lot of Lot 10. All the following lots are free! Park and walk down to the dam to explore!

Rent A Car

The second cheapest way to visit the Hoover Dam is to rent a car. This does depend on how many people are in your group and how much car rentals are going for. In 2021, rental cars have been in high demand and prices are quite high. Take a quick look at rental car prices to see if this option will save you money over the next option, taking a tour to the Hoover Dam

Explore the Southwest With Your Rental Car!

If you manage to score a good deal on a rental car, you can follow all of the above tips about driving your own car to the Hoover Dam. 

To get the most value out of your rental car, consider driving it to other locations around Las Vegas, like Seven Magic Mountains, the Grand Canyon, or Zion National Park

Cheap Tours to the Hoover Dam

If you don’t have a car, and don’t want to rent a car or are a solo traveler, the cheapest way to see the Hoover Dam will be by tour bus. There are dozens of different options for tours to the Hoover Dam, however, if you are going for cheap, there are a few options at $49 per person. These tours will let you see the dam from afar, but you won't get to experience the actual dam.   For a little more, we would highly recommend our Small Group Tour to Hoover Dam and Seven Magic Mountains for $69 per person, this tour includes a direct hotel pickup. While it isn’t the cheapest, it is the best value option for tours to the Hoover Dam. 

See Seven Magic Mountains Together with The Hoover Dam

Tours to Hoover Dam are an incredible value if you have one, two, or three people in your party. With the high cost of rental cars and gas, many times taking a tour will actually save you money vs renting a car. Taking a tour is also a lot more convenient than renting a car, so for groups of 3 or less, taking a tour should usually be your best option for saving money and having a hassle-free trip to the Hoover Dam. 

Visiting the Hoover Dam On A Budget

When you get to the Hoover Dam, most of the main attractions are free. You can see the visitors center, walk across the top of the dam, visit all the lookouts on the Arizona side, climb up on the Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, and more. If you are trying to save on your trip to the Hoover Dam, avoid the powerplant tour, and avoid any paid parking. There is lots of free parking on the Arizona side up the hill.

If you are going to splurge on your trip, a tour to see the powerplant at the bottom of the Hoover Dam can be a good option. Be warned that this tour can be closed for a variety of reasons, and if it is open, lines can be quite long. 

Hoover Dam Powerplant

All in all, a trip to the Hoover Dam can be highly rewarding and doesn’t need to cost too much either. Follow the above tips to have a fun and budget-friendly tour of the Hoover Dam. 

The Hoover Dam is the most popular day trip from the Las Vegas Strip. This massive dam is equally beautiful and accessible. Wondering if you should visit the Hoover Dam? Here are 10 reasons why you should:

1. It is Only 36 Miles Away

The proximity of the Hoover Dam makes it the perfect half-day trip from the Las Vegas Strip. It is a great way to escape the city for a few hours, learn some history, get some great photos, and still be back in time for an exceptional lunch at your hotel. Have more than half a day? Check out our full day Grand Canyon Tours that all include a stop and walk across the dam.

2.  Tours Make Your Visit Easy

There are dozens of tours from Las Vegas to the Hoover Dam. Choose from quick overview tours, power plant tours, kayak tours below the dam, or helicopter tours over it. There is a tour for all kinds of travelers. Most tours offer hotel pickup, so you can sit back, relax, and enjoy everything the Hoover Dam has to offer without worrying about navigating the windy Nevada mountain roads. 

Related: Grand Canyon West, Hoover Dam, Seven Magic Mountains Day Tour

Hoover Dam from a Helicopter

3.  It has Great Photo Opportunities

Great Hoover Dam Photos
Looking Down The Face Of The Hoover Dam

There are countless opportunities for inspiring photos at the Hoover Dam. Here are our favorites:

4. Stand in Two States at the Same Time

The Colorado river on one side of the dam and Lake Mead on the other side act as the border between Arizona and Nevada. Get a fun photo standing at the plaque marking the border in the middle of the dam.

There are also fun photo opportunities with both the Welcome to Arizona Sign and the Welcome to Nevada sign in the background. See the plaque on the border as you walk across the dam on all of our Hoover Dam Tours

Welcome To Arizona

5. Learn about American History

Building The Hoover Dam

The Hoover Dam is a vital part of life in the Southwest United States. From providing the area with much-needed water and power to the many engineering breakthroughs during construction, you can head to the visitor center or listen to a tour guide explain how the dam was built and why it was so important to both the region and the nation during its development. 

Related: 5 Amazing Facts About The Grand Canyon (Will #1 Gross You Out?!)

6.  Walk out on the 2nd Highest Bridge in the United States

The Second Highest Bridge in the US

The view from up on top of the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge is knee-shaking. Rising 900 feet above the Colorado River, this bridge has a pedestrian section that is perfect for staring over the edge at the abyss below. The bridge also has a fantastic view of the full face of the Hoover Dam. 

7.   See the Source of your Las Vegas Hotel Shower Water

Lake Mead from the Hoover Dam

Being in the middle of the desert, we get many guests asking us: Where does Las Vegas get its water? Of course, that is before we visit the Hoover Dam and they get to see the largest man-made lake in the United States: Lake Mead. To the surprise of many, Lake Mead provides water to parts of California, Nevada, Arizona, and even parts of Mexico.

Take the opportunity to see the water glimmering behind the dam before it goes on to make its debut in the Bellagio fountain show! 

8.  Spot Shooting Locations from your favorite Hollywood Action Flicks

The Hoover Dam is an American Icon recognized around the world. Hollywood producers use this to dramatic effect when looking for things to destroy in action films.

Just like the Golden Gate Bridge and the Statue of Liberty, the Hoover Dam makes for a nice CGI explosion. Look for the places they filmed blockbusters like Transformers, Vegas Vacation, and San Andreas.

9.  It is on the way to the Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon

Taking a trip to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas is a bucket list checking opportunity for travelers from around the world. Any route to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas will go right by the Hoover Dam.

It takes less than 10 minutes from the highway to get to the Hoover Dam, and in less than 45 minutes you can take a detour and climb up on the memorial bridge for an amazing view of the face of the dam and then get back on the road to the Grand Canyon. 

10. It is an Engineering Wonder

That the Hoover Dam was started over 90 years ago makes it that much more impressive.

If you think blasting and drilling through the tough, local sandstone sounds crazy, imagine them doing it at a time when Ford Model A’s were still coming off the assembly line!

From piping cool water throughout the freshly-laid concrete to keep it from drying in the scorching southwest sun, to bringing to life the at-the-time largest hydroelectric plant in America, the Hoover Dam had completed so many engineering-firsts that several dams were modeled almost exactly like it following its grand opening. Seeing the 1920’s Art Deco style of this modern-day dam will quickly give you an appreciation for this engineering masterpiece. 

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