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Hoover Dam - Tours, Visitors Center, Driving Restrictions

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Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam

©Elizabeth R. Rose

Hoover Dam Basics:

Hoover Dam (originally known as Boulder Dam), which holds back the mighty Colorado River forming Lake Mead, is located on the Arizona - Nevada border on Highway 93. Map.

Visitors Center Contact Information for Tour Reservations: For Hoover Dam Discovery Tour Reservations call (702) 494-2517
Toll free number is (866) 730-9097
Reservation fax number is (702) 494-2587

Official Website

Driving Across Hoover Dam:

I was headed through Arizona and across the dam into Nevada. As I approached I read the warning signs. Not all types of vehicles are allowed to cross the dam. Here's the latest information so you can plan ahead. You'll be surprised to know that RV's and rental trucks can cross the dam (may be inspected). It's best to be prepared so read this guide.

Stopping to View the Dam:

I drove from the Arizona side and noticed that there were many pull-outs and quite a few empty spaces. The Visitors Center is on the Nevada side and it's a bit more crowded there. If you want covered parking or primo parking spots, be prepared to pay. It's cash only ($7.00) for parking in the garage closest to the Visitors Center. I saw quite a few hardy folks parking for free on the Arizona side and walking down the hill and across the dam to the visitors center.

Hoover Dam Visitors Center:

The Visitors Center is open at 9:00 a.m. and closes at 6:00 p.m. The Hoover Dam Visitor Center is open every day of the year except for Thanksgiving and Christmas days. There is an $8.00 fee. Free for kids 3 and under.

Hoover Dam Tours:

You can head out on the Dam Tour which is available on a first come, first served basis for those over 8 years of age. For those wanting to see the Power Plant too, you can reserve a ticket online or at the Visitors Center. All ages are allowed on the Power Plant tour. Neither tour is accessible for those in wheelchairs or with limited mobility.

America the Beautiful, Golden Eagle or Golden Age Passports/discounts are not accepted for admission to the Hoover Dam Visitor Center or tours.

Hoover Dam on the Cheap:

Yes, you can enjoy the Dam for free. Park in one of the free parking areas and walk across the dam. There are plenty of great photo opportunities and interesting information posted along the way. Look up as you walk and see another marvel of engineering, the construction of an immense bridge across the river just downstream from Hoover Dam. This is on the Hoover Dam Bypass.

Brief Hoover Dam History:

The construction of the Hoover Dam, originally named the Boulder Dam, backed up the Colorado River resulting in the formation of Lake Mead. The dam was completed in five years. The contractors were allowed seven years from April 20, 1931, but concrete placement in the dam was completed May 29, 1935, and all features were completed by March 1, 1936.

Nearby Boulder City was built in 1931 to house the Dam workers. It is the only city in Nevada where gambling is illegal. Visitors can enjoy antique shopping and restaurants.

Shopping, Food and Restrooms:

First things first, there are restrooms in the visitors center, parking garage, adjacent to the Old Exhibit Building, and in the downstream face towers on top of the dam.
There is a food concession at the dam.
Shopping for a souvenir? You'll find some interesting things at the gift shop on the lower floor of the parking garage. Online shop.

Hoover Dam Tips:

Hoover Dam is a major attraction. It is very much worth visiting but you may want to avoid the crowds. The slowest months for visitation are January and February. The least crowded time of day for tours is from 9:00 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. until 4:45 pm.

Remember that you are in the desert. It can get very hot at Hoover Dam (lots of concrete, remember?) Dress accordingly and bring water.

When you are at Hoover Dam be sure and take time to look at the Hoover Dam Bypass being constructed. The bridge over the Colorado River is viewable from the Dam and as you drive across. The immense Colorado Bridge is both amazing and very scary. It is 900 feet above the river! I am not sure I'll have the nerve to drive across something that high when construction is completed.

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