Hoover Dam#12 in Best Things To Do in Las Vegas
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 pictures 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. If you'd like to take a power plant tour, you'll have to pay $15 per adult and $12 for kids ages 4 to 16. Dam tours cost $30 per person and include access to the Visitor Center, among other areas of the facility.
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. If you're basing yourself in Las Vegas and don't want to rent a car to reach the dam, an organized tour can be an efficient way to access this National Historic Landmark. Whether you're looking for a boat cruise on Lake Mead or a helicopter ride over the dam, there's a Hoover Dam tour for you.
The Hoover Dam is open to the public daily from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. Once you arrive, be prepared to go through a security screening. To avoid the largest crowds, consider timing your visit between 9 and 10:30 a.m. or between 3 and 3:45 p.m. Parking costs $10. To learn more about the dam, visit the Hoover Dam page on the Bureau of Reclamation website.
More Best Things To Do in Las Vegas
#1 The Strip
Once you pass the famous "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign along Las Vegas Boulevard South, it won't be too long until you're cruising the Strip. Sin City's notorious artery acts as the epicenter of any Vegas getaway. Here you'll find Las Vegas' most iconic landmarks, including the Bellagio Fountains, the Eiffel Tower at Paris, Las Vegas, the pyramid and sphinx belonging to The Luxor and The Venetian's Grand Canal.
The "Strip" technically runs from Mandalay Bay on the south end (home to an aquarium and a man-made beach) to the Stratosphere casino on the north end, where you'll find the tallest free-standing observation tower in the country (this is where you'll go for the perfect Vegas photo).
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