Because it is less than an hour from the Strip, Hoover Dam Tours from Las Vegas are the most popular tours for travelers to Las Vegas to take. But what if you are an independent traveler and don’t want to join a group tour and just want to explore on your own? Based on our expereince showing tens of thousands of travelers the wonders of the Hoover Dam, we have created the ultimate Hoover Dam Self-Guided Tour guide here.
Tip: Want to avoid all the planning and hassle of a self-guided Hoover Dam Tour? Check out our surprisingly affordable small group Hoover Dam tours by clicking here.
Transportation To The Hoover Dam
To embark on your own self-guided tour of the Hoover dam, you are going to need your own set of wheels. Ideally, you have driven to Las Vegas in your own car. You can also rent a car from the Las Vegas Airport Rental Car center.
If you are looking for more of an adventure or looking to make more of a grand entrance at the Hoover Dam, there are some fun options for you.
Every day we are out leading tours of the Hoover Dam we see people driving around in these 3 wheeled road beasts, and I have to say, these people look like they are having a ton of fun. Considering the Hoover Dam is only 40 minutes from the Las Vegas strip, renting a Slingshot from a local rental agency. Rentals for 4 hours start at $399.
Exotic Car Rental
Compared to Slingshots, we don't see as many exotic cars at the Hoover Dam, but when we do, they sure turn heads. Renting an exotic car is an excellent way to have an unforgettable time but does come at a price. Renting a Ferrari F8 Spider for 4 hours starts at $899 plus taxes and fees.
We don't recommend renting a scooter and riding it to the Hoover Dam. There is not any way to get to the Hoover Dam that doesn't involve riding on a busy highway. Safety first.
For experienced riders, renting a classic motorcycle and driving it across the Hoover Dam is going to be an exciting experience and one not to be missed.
What To See On A Self-Guided Hoover Dam Tour
When it was finished in the 1930s, the Hoover Dam was the largest dam in the world. To say it is huge is an understatement, and when trying to visit it, you can easily spend the better part of a day trying to see it all. To help you prioritize your self-guided Hoover Dam tour, we have ranked the following Hoover Dam attractions in order from a must-see, to nice to see.
1. Walking Across the Top Of the Dam
The walk across the top of the Hoover dam is so good that we include it on all of our tours that stop at the Hoover Dam. The feeling of peeking your head over the edge and looking down the face of the dam is exhilarating and these feelings are the reason we travel. Don't leave the Hoover Dam until you have a chance to walk on top of it.
There are a few places to park for your walk across the dam. If you are planning on seeing the visitor's center, gift shop, and the powerplant at the bottom of the dam, you can park at the visitors center for $10. Note that you can access all of these from the free parking mentioned below, but it will be a longer walk.
Here are directions to the parking at the visitors center: https://bit.ly/3UFYzY9
You can also park for free on the Arizona side of the dam in lots 11, 12, or 13. We like lot 12 the best for its view and easy access to the dam, but any of them would work well.
Directions to lot 12: https://bit.ly/3xUtlCF
2. Walking Out On The Mike O'Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge
The Mike O'Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge is the second highest bridge in the United States and offers sweeping views of the Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, and the Colorado River. Walking up the bridge from the parking lot only takes 10 minutes and is completely free. The great views, the low cost, and the short amount of time needed to visit make this one of the can't-miss stops on any itinerary of the Hoover Dam.
The view from the bridge is the best place to get iconic photos of the full face of the Hoover Dam.
3. Take a Tour Inside the Hoover Dam
There are two fantastic tours you can take inside the Hoover Dam: The shorter Powerplant tour, and the longer Dam Tour. Both include a self guided tour of the visitors center.
A guided powerplant tour costs $15 per person ages 11+, $10 for ages 4-10, and free for ages 3 and under. Tickets can be bought on-site at the visitors center or online here:
Once you have your ticket you can proceed to the visitor center and follow the signs for the powerplant tour, tours depart every 15 minutes and times cannot be reserved in advance, you just line up when you arrive.
The powerplant tours includes a walk through original construction tunnels, a visit to the viewing platform overlooking a 30-foot diameter penstock – feel the vibration created by water rushing through the pipe. You will also see 8 of the commercial generators in the Nevada Powerhouse and get a self-guided visitor center tour
The Dam tour includes everything in the Powerplant tour plus a visit to of the historic tunnels and a ride original elevator to the bottom of the Hoover Dam, a walk through the inspection tunnels at the center of Hoover Dam, and a view of the Colorado River through the inspection ventilation shaft.
4. View The Back Of the Dam From Arizona
After driving halfway across the dam, you will enter Arizona. The border between Nevada and Arizon is the Colorodo River. Follow the road up the hill, stoping at as many of the parking lots as you have time for to get some great views and photos. Our favorite lots are Parking lot 12 and the top with the gift shop.
5. Hoover Dam Museum in Boulder City
This completely free museum is a great way to learn all about the history and building process of the Hoover Dam. It can be visited in about 30 minutes and is in historic downtown Boulder City, which has more places to explore and some fun spots to grab breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Ok, so you got your rental car (or Slingshot), and you want to make the most of it for the time that you have it. We also like people to get the most out of their tours and love to add extra stops to them. Here are some of the best bonus stops you may want to add to your self-guided Hoover Dam tour.
This local park in Boulder City offers sweeping views of Lake Mead. Also, there are often a bunch of big horned sheep grazing on the park grass, but keep in mind, these are wild animals.
This stop is on the way to the Hoover Dam and is well worth the 15 minutes need to see the big horn sheep with the lake in the background.
Lake Mead Overlook
On the way to the Hoover Dam, this overlook offers some of the best views of Lake Mead and can be visited in less than 5 minutes on your way to the dam.
Taking a self-guided tour to the Hoover Dam is a great way to independently see one of the engineering marvels of the world. You can easily spend a couple of hours or the better part of the dam exploring the Hoover Dam and the surrounding areas. And if the thought of all this planning has you thinking of skipping the whole thing, we have an amazing tour that combines all the major stops listed above. Click here to see our Hoover Dam: From Above - On Top - And Below, with Boulder City Tour.