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What Do You Need to Know Before Going to the Hoover Dam?

Last Update on April 04, 2024
by Sunny Samaroo
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Visiting the Hoover Dam is an experience like no other. This engineering marvel, nestled between Arizona and Nevada, is not just a testament to human ingenuity but also a significant piece of American history

If you're planning a trip to the Hoover Dam, there are a few things you should know to make your visit as enjoyable and smooth as possible. Whether you're going solo or considering a guided tour like the Hoover Dam Walk on Top Tour offered by MaxTour, here's what you need to keep in mind.

View of Hoover Dam
The Hoover Dam used to be called the Boulder Dam, from its location near Boulder City.

1. Understand the Significance of Hoover Dam

Before you visit, it's worth knowing a bit about why the Hoover Dam is such a landmark. Completed in 1935, it was the tallest dam in the world at the time. Its construction was a monumental effort during the Great Depression and stands today as a symbol of American resilience and ambition.

The dam plays a crucial role in controlling the Colorado River and providing water and electricity to a vast area of the Southwest. This primarily includes Nevada, Arizona, and California. If the dam were to ever shut down, power and water supply to these states may be disrupted.

2. Security Measures

Security at the Hoover Dam is tight. All visitors are subject to security screening before entering the visitor center or taking any tours. 

Certain items are not allowed on the dam, including weapons, luggage, strollers, and pets (except for service animals). Make sure to check the official Hoover Dam website for the latest security guidelines before your visit.

3. Tour Options

There are several ways to experience the Hoover Dam. You can explore it on your own, but to get the most out of your visit, consider a guided tour

MaxTour's Hoover Dam Tours from Las Vegas offers an in-depth experience led by knowledgeable guides. This tour not only includes a walk on the top of the dam but also provides insights into its history, construction, and the natural history of the surrounding area.

There are also tours that go beyond the top of the dam. These transform the dam into not just a sightseeing destination but also an educational one! These are the official Hoover Dam tours, and there are three of them:

  • The Self-Guided Visitor Center Tour gives you access to the Visitor Center, which has exhibits and an observation deck.
  • The Guided Power Plant Tour includes access to the Visitor Center, as well as a tour of the dam's power plant.
  • The Guided Dam Tour includes access to the Visitor Center, as well as a tour of the dam's power plant, historic tunnels, and more.

4. How Much It Costs to Visit

The Hoover Dam doesn't have an entrance fee, but you need to keep in mind the cost for parking and tours (if you decide to join a tour).

Parking in the main parking area on the Nevada side of the dam costs $10 per vehicle. If you want free parking, you'll have to go to the Arizona side of the dam. The free parking lots there (11, 12, and 13) are far, so this involves a bit more walking back to the dam.

The official Hoover Dam tours cost $10 (Self-Guided Visitor Center Tour), $15 (Guided Power Plant Tour) and $30 (Guided Dam Tour).

View from Arizona side of Hoover Dam
The walk is longer from the Arizona side of the Hoover Dam but the free parking is worth it.

5. Best Time to Visit

The Hoover Dam is open to visitors year-round, but your experience will vary depending on when you visit. The best time to visit is in the spring or fall when the weather is more temperate and there are fewer crowds.

Summers can be scorching hot and attract huge crowds. Winters have fewer crowds and the weather is milder but can sometimes be unpredictable.

Also, consider visiting early in the morning to avoid the crowds and the afternoon heat. The dam is open from 5 am to 9 pm (hours may be different when maintenance is being carried out). The Visitor Center is open from 9 am to 5 pm; this is also when tours are offered.

6. Plan Your Day

If you're on a day trip from Las Vegas, like the one offered by MaxTour, plan your day accordingly. The tour usually includes other stops, so check the itinerary to know how much time you'll spend at each location.

Places to Go Near Hoover Dam

  • Go kayaking on Lake Mead to get a different perspective of the Hoover Dam and enjoy the tranquility of the reservoir that the dam has made.
  • Visit Boulder City to get a bite to eat, to explore the Hoover Dam Museum, or take a breather (and maybe spot bighorn sheep) at Hemenway Park.
  • Head to Red Rock Canyon to see some of the Southwest's characteristic red rock formations. You can hike or take the scenic driving trail through the canyon.
  • Seven Magic Mountains is a quirky art installation south of Las Vegas that is even more impressive in person than in photos.
  • Valley of Fire is another canyon with great hiking and driving opportunities. The landscape is otherworldly and rugged in a very beautiful way.

Related Reading: Can You Do Hoover Dam and Valley of Fire in One Day? 

People at Seven Magic Mountains
The Seven Magic Mountains offer a completely different experience from the Hoover Dam.

7. Dress Appropriately

Wear comfortable walking shoes as there's a fair amount of walking involved, both on the dam itself and in the visitor center. If you're visiting in the summer, wear light clothing, a hat, and sunscreen. In cooler months, bring a jacket as it can get windy on top of the dam.

8. Photography

The Hoover Dam is a photographer's delight. The views of the dam, the Colorado River, and Lake Mead are spectacular. However, remember that tripods and monopods are not allowed on the tours for safety reasons.

9. Check the Water Level of Lake Mead

The water level of Lake Mead can vary throughout the year. It's interesting to see the "bathtub ring" around the edges of the lake, which indicates the high water mark and offers a visual representation of the drought conditions in the Southwest.

View of Hoover Dam and Lake Mead
Lake Mead is a large reservoir created by the construction of the Hoover Dam.


A visit to the Hoover Dam is a journey through history, engineering, and natural beauty. Whether you're marveling at the dam's massive structure or learning about its impact on the American Southwest, it's an experience you won't forget.

And with tours like MaxTour's Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam Tour, you can enjoy a comprehensive and hassle-free visit to this iconic American landmark.

Related Reading: Is Glen Canyon and Hoover Dam the Same?


Sunny Samaroo

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