The Hoover Dam appeals to both the old and the young, with sights and activities for everyone. Kids may not fully appreciate the technical intricacies but they will surely have a blast as they walk the vastness of the dam and look down at the river!
Regardless of who you are, the best way to fully appreciate the dam is by taking a tour. How long does the Hoover Dam tour take, though?
Short answer: A tour of the Hoover Dam can last anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours.
Long answer: There are three types of Hoover Dam tours, with different activities and different durations. How long you'll spend at the dam depends on what you'd like to partake in.
How Long Does Each Hoover Dam Tour Last?
Self-Guided Visitor Center Tour
The first tour tier offered at the Hoover Dam is the Self-Guided Visitor Center Tour. As it is self-guided, the length varies from person to person. Usually, however, it takes about 30 minutes to see everything.
Inside the Visitor Center, there are a bunch of narrated exhibits about the history and engineering of the dam. There is also a 3D model that portrays several nearby dams, showing the interconnected power system in the area.
This tour also allows you to get a unique perspective of the dam and its surroundings. The Visitor Center has an Observation Deck, you can get a panoramic view of the dam, Lake Mead, Colorado River, and the Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge.
Guided Power Plant Tour
The Guided Power Plant Tour takes you close to the inner workings of the dam. This particular tour may not appeal to everyone but will definitely capture the attention of people who are interested in engineering.
Like the above tour, this one usually takes about 30 minutes. When you purchase a ticket for this tour, you also get access to the Self-Guided Visitor Center Tour. If you decide to take that tour, too, then the total time is 1 hour.
On this tour, you walk through the construction tunnels that were actually used when building the dam. Then, you step onto the viewing platform where you can see the penstock and the powerful generators. All the while, you're learning about the engineering magic of the dam from your guide.
Guided Dam Tour
The most popular tour at the dam is the Guided Dam Tour. It's not hard to see why! It gives you the most in-depth understanding of the dam's history. It also includes access to the other two tours, so it's a great package deal.
On its own, the Guided Dam tour takes about 1 hour. If you also take the other two tours, though, the total time will be 2 hours.
The Guided Dam Tour is steeped in the dam's rich, nearly century-long history. You get to walk through historic inspection tunnels and ride the original elevator all the way to the top of the dam. Throughout the tour, there are presentations about the history of the structure.
How Much Does It Cost to Visit the Hoover Dam?
- The Self-Guided Visitor Center Tour costs $10
- The Guided Power Plant Tour costs $15
- The Guided Dam Tour costs $30
When you consider the fact that the Guided Dam Tour also comes with the other two tours, it's quite the steal. If, however, you're only really interested in the power plant section of the dam, then the Guided Power Plant Tour is an awesome deal, too.
There are several parking areas around the dam. The closest one, on the Nevada side, attracts a $10 parking fee. There is also some paid parking on the Arizona side for the same price. The furthest parking lot on the Arizona side, however, is free.
If you take a Hoover Dam tour from Las Vegas, you can enjoy a stress-free trip to the dam for as little as $79. This includes the admission fee for the Guided Dam Tour, as well as a stop at one or two other iconic attractions near the dam!
How Long Does It Take to Get Tickets for the Hoover Dam Tour?
One thing you can't overlook when planning a trip to the Hoover Dam is how long it takes to get tickets. Tickets for the Self-Guided Visitor Center Tour and the Guided Power Plant Tour can be purchased online. For the Guided Dam Tour, you have to buy your tickets on-site.
In the peak season (summer), be prepared to face extremely long lines, even if you get there early. Even during the less busy months, it's not uncommon to wait an hour or so to get tickets after arriving on-site.
When planning a trip to the Hoover Dam, make sure you factor in the time it takes just to get tickets. If you don't, the rest of your plans for the day could be ruined!
At this point you might be wondering "is the Hoover Dam tour worth it?" Don't worry; despite the wait time, it absolutely is worth it!
How Much Time Should You Set Aside For Touring?
The amount of time you should set aside for touring depends on your preferences. What exactly do you want out of a trip to the Hoover Dam?
If you want to take in the full experience, give yourself at least 3 hours. The full length of the guided tours adds up to 2 hours. Aside from that, you'll want some time to explore the dam on your own, taking pictures and basking in the phenomenal views.
If you're only interested in the official tours themselves, then you don't have to set aside that much time. You could just get there, do the tours, and then get out.
If you're not interested in the engineering stuff (the power plant) or the exhibits (the self-guided tour), you can skip those and just spend an hour doing the main Guided Dam Tour. Maybe you're actually only interested in the power plant — it will be a quick 30 minutes.
A guided tour of the Hoover Dam typically lasts 2 hours, though it can last as little as 30 minutes, depending on which tour you go on.
The Hoover Dam tours are definitely worth it, as you get to see a lot in a short time (and for a decent price). The dam provides a variety of opportunities for anyone looking for a spectacular destination. This is especially true for people who are interested in history and engineering!
It's recommended to visit during the less busy months and to call in advance if you'd like to visit the visitor center during a holiday. Remember to set aside time to explore on your own, as well as adequate buffer time for buying tickets.If you want to see more than just the dam during your trip, check out our post on what there is to see between Las Vegas and the Hoover Dam.