Top Tips on How to Tour the Hoover Dam
If you are anywhere in the vicinity of Las Vegas, Nevada, touring the Hoover Dam is a must, but can be a hassle unless you use my tips on how to tour the Hoover Dam from Las Vegas to get the most out of your visit.
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Visit the Hoover Dam – A U.S. Attraction Must
Despite how you may feel about the role of dams in our environment, the Hoover Dam is an engineering marvel and a famous landmark in the United States. A friend and I visited Hoover Dam while staying in Las Vegas, and I’m very glad we did. It was not only a nice getaway from the city, but it provided for an amazing scenic and educational experience.
I would recommend seeing the Hoover Dam to anyone, just make sure to use my tips on how best to tour the Hoover Dam.
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How to Visit Hoover Dam from Las Vegas
Only 35 miles from Las Vegas, the Hoover Dam is an easy 40-minute drive down Highway 93. Although the dam straddles the Nevada and Arizona state lines, the only point of entry and exit is on the Nevada side.
After completing an automobile inspection, you can still drive across the dam to park on the Arizona side.
Parking is limited compared to the number of visitors the Hoover Dam receives every day. To prevent any issues, refer to the driving, inspection and parking details.
Hoover Dam parking on either side is $10. However, there is free Hoover Dam parking further up the Arizona canyon side yet, this free parking requires some walking.
Eco Travel Tips
When booking your flight to Las Vegas, choose the ‘Greener flights’ filter highlighting flights that emit less CO2. Additionally, you can purchase carbon offsets through your airline to lower your carbon footprint.
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Best Time to Visit Hoover Dam
The Hoover Dam tour hours are 9am to 5pm daily, except Thanksgiving and Christmas. The last dam tours start before 4pm.
The area can experience brutally hot weather in the summer (see my Arizona travel guide). If you visit the Hoover Dam during the summer months, I would recommend visiting early in the morning.
Come Prepared to Hoover Dam
The dam draws on average 3,000 tourists daily, yet another reason to get there early in the day.
Additionally, the Hoover Dam’s busiest day of the year is the day after Thanksgiving. We found this out on that day at the Hoover Dam Visitor Center. Thankfully, we got there very early.
I recommend avoiding a visiting the Hoover Dam the day after Thanksgiving, if you can. If you must visit this day, get there at least by the time tours start. Otherwise, you will be stuck in traffic waiting for a parking spot in the parking garage (which is limited), which could ruin your entire day.
We left Hoover Dam by noon and the access road to the parking garage was a parking lot itself. Avoid this if you can.
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What To Do at Hoover Dam
The Bureau of Reclamation has much to tell about the history of the Hoover Dam, from its building during the Great Depression (1931 to 1935) to today, all of which can be seen in the Visitor Center exhibits and heard on the Hoover Dam tours available.
Touring the Hoover Dam Options
See the Hoover Dam for Free
If you wish to go unguided, you can still see the Hoover Dam for free. If you are lucky to score the free Arizona-side parking, you can always walk down and around the dam at your leisure.
When done, don’t forget to drive back to the lot closest to Highway 93 and walk across the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge for fabulous views overlooking the dam.
Self-Guided Hoover Dam Tour
If you wish to go unguided, but want access to the Self-Guided Visitor Center Tour, and all of exhibits and facts about the Hoover Dam, just pay $10 for adult admission. These Hoover Dam tour tickets are available onsite only and touring can be done at your leisure before, or after, you walk around the Hoover Dam and the Pat Tillman Memorial.
Personally, I recommend a tour that goes down into the Hoover Dam itself. It’s very cool. Why wouldn’t you want this guided experience? There are two tours that allow you to do this: The Guided Powerplant and Guided Dam tours.
Guided Powerplant Tour
Only the Guided Powerplant Tour admission can be bought in advance. Adult admission for this guided tour is $15, which includes access to the Visitor Center and a shorter tour than the Guided Dam tour, yet still very informative.
The 30-minute tour is presented by Reclamation guides. The tour includes a 10-minute movie on the Hoover Dam, and you go into original construction tunnels and see part of the power plant. I was very pleased with this tour.
I recommend purchasing through online ticket sales in advance for the first available tour of the day, as well as arriving at the dam no later than 8am when the parking lot opens, so you can spend more time wandering the dam afterwards with less people there.
*If you suffer from claustrophobia, this tour may not be for you.
Guided Dam Tour
This is the tour I really wanted to do. It is a one hour guided tour. You get all of what the Guided Powerplant tour offers, but you get to see more of the internal structure. Adult admission is $30. This guided tour ticket is only available on a first come – first served basis.
Arriving at the Hoover Dam the day after Thanksgiving, I was not aware it was the heaviest tourist day of the year. Go figure.
We arrived at 8am when the parking lot opened, and we were in the ticket line well before the ticket office opened. There were not many people in front of us. Yet, we were told we’d have to wait 2 hours for the Guided Dam Tour. Yes, it fills up that quickly.
Therefore, we opted for the Guided Powerplant tour. In short, if you wish to do the Guided Dam Tour, get there early.
*If you suffer from claustrophobia, this tour may not be for you.
Hoover Dam Tours from Las Vegas
Don’t wish to drive to the Hoover Dam or deal with parking? There are multiple Hoover Dam tours from Las Vegas options. Going in groups is also a fun way to meet people if you are touring solo.
More Ways for Touring Hoover Dam
Let Me Hear From You
I would love to hear if my tips on how to tour the Hoover Dam were helpful to you. Post me your thoughts or questions in the Comments section below. Thank you!