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Spanning the Colorado River and the Black Canyon (which separates Nevada and Arizona) about 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas sits the Hoover Dam. The immense concrete structure – which confines Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the United States by volume – has helped provide power to Nevada, Arizona and California since 1935. These days, in addition to keeping the lights on, the Hoover Dam welcomes more than a million visitors each year as one of America's most recognized landmarks. Some of its most noteworthy sights are as follows:
Visitor Center: You can learn more about the Hoover Dam with a stop at the Visitor Center, which is open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and costs $10 to explore. The facility's Exhibit Gallery features various audio, visual and interactive exhibits, such as a generator model you can walk through, while the theater shows a 10-minute film about the dam. Don't forget to head to the top-floor observation area to snap some memorable pics of the massive structure, Lake Mead and the Colorado River.
Winged Figures of the Republic: Across the street from the Visitor Center, these bronze statues were created by sculptor Oskar J.W. Hansen. Featuring a 142-foot-tall flagpole that sits between two winged figures, the pieces are surrounded by a terrazzo floor with a celestial map noting the dam's dedication date: Sept. 30, 1935. Bronze seals of the seven states that are home to the Colorado River Basin are also on display by the statues.
Hoover Dam Powerplant: Located 530 feet below Black Canyon's surface, this power plant is where you'll find the dam's 17 generators, plus a tunnel drilled in the 1930s and a platform that sits on top of a 30-foot-wide water pipe. Both on-site tours include 30-minute stops inside the power plant, but only the Hoover Dam Tour offers a look at the facility's inspection tunnels.
Top of the Dam: This open-air section features sidewalks and some of the property's best lake, river and dam vistas. Each tour inside the property concludes at the Top of the Dam, but the area itself is free to visit.
Hoover Dam tours are available with on-site staff members and independent guides. Browse the list below for a few traveler favorites:
Hoover Dam Tours: The Hoover Dam's standard tours last about a half-hour and include a walk through the attraction's power plant and admission to the Visitor Center. However, previous travelers suggest signing up for the hourlong tour if you want a more in-depth look. This option covers access to lesser-known passageways in addition to the power plant and Visitor Center. Fees range from $12 to $30 per person.
Dean Outdoor: Although this operator's "Expedition Tour" only runs on select weekdays, visitors praise its informative guides and tasty breakfasts. The tour originates in Sin City and starts with a photo op by the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Sign. Then, travelers are transported to Boulder City for breakfast at a local cafe and onward to walk around the dam. Tours last approximately six hours and accommodate up to eight people, plus the guide. Dean Outdoor's $119 tour price covers shuttle service and breakfast.
Pink Adventure Tours: A standard dam tour is available through Pink Adventure Tours, but if you want to see the Hoover Dam from multiple angles, consider booking the traveler-approved "Hoover Dam Top to Bottom Combo." This experience features a power plant tour of the property, as well as a raft ride on the Colorado River. The five-hour tour will set you back $158 per child and $175 for each adult. Rates include hotel pick-ups and drop-offs.
Comedy on Deck Tours: As its name suggests, Comedy on Deck Tours offers a humorous twist to the typical tour experience. Its $99 "Hoot & Hoover Dam" tour, which lasts seven hours, is led by a comedian who provides insight about everything from the dam's concrete to the individuals who died during its construction. The tour also covers shuttle service, a hot lunch and a stop at the Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge for photos.
Hoover Dam Tour Company:Hoover Dam Tour Company offers a variety of ways to see Hoover Dam, but one of its most popular excursions combines a VIP walking tour of the property with a paddlewheel boat cruise on Lake Mead. Though some past travelers wished they had more time inside the dam, many raved about the dam views from the lake. The tour costs $94.99 per person and includes round-trip transfers from Las Vegas, a Hoover Dam hat, a personal travel pack and lunch during the boat cruise.
Awesome Adventures: If you want to add some outdoor exploration to your Hoover Dam visit, consider an Awesome Adventures bike tour. This highly recommended 13-mile excursion involves mountain biking down the River Mountain Trail to Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam. Along the way, you can look for bighorn sheep and take in the view before exploring the dam. Each $169 tour fee includes a bike rental, a helmet and gloves, snacks, a picnic lunch and round-trip transfers from Las Vegas.
Sundance Helicopters: For travelers short on time, Sundance Helicopters offers its "Hoover Dam Twilight Tour." This two-hour tour, which costs $210 per person, starts with a limo ride to the launch pad before travelers are whisked away in a helicopter for an evening journey above the dam and the Las Vegas Strip. Limos then transport visitors back to the city. Past participants appreciated the excursion's incredible views and friendly pilots.
Additional Hoover Dam tour information is available on the tour companies' individual websites, Viator's website and the tourism board's website. To learn more about the dam itself, visit the Hoover Dam page on the Bureau of Reclamation website.
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