Found at the Black Canyon on the Colorado River, 35 miles from Las Vegas, Hoover Dam is the highest concrete dam in the United States, with Lake Mead being the largest man-made lake in the country, The Arch-gravity structure stands at 726 feet tall and 1244 feet wide. It is also a National Historic Landmark and is considered as one of America’s Seven Modern Civil Engineering Wonders.
Even since the construction of Hoover Dam started, this landmark has been attracting millions of visitors each year. In fact, workers had to build an observation platform to keep people away from the dam during its construction. While guided tours have been organized since 1937, it was much later in 1995 that the visitor center we know today was opened. At the visitor, center there is an exhibit gallery featuring different photos and informative exhibits, as well as a theater showing a film about the construction of the dam. An elevator descends 530 feet leading visitors to a tour of the power plant itself, including the room where energy from the waters is transformed into power. Alternatively, visitors can visit the construction tunnel or take another lift up to the Observation Deck with outstanding views of the plant, generator, the river, and Lake Mead. The visitor center is open between 9 am to 5 pm, where a cafe and a gift shop are both available.
Hoover Dam was built in 1935 as part of the Boulder Canyon Project, with the aim of protecting Arizona and Southern California from flooding as well as supply water and electricity to Los Angeles and neighboring cities. Before the dam was built, the area was susceptible to unpredictable floods, followed by drought in the summer months, causing severe damage to farmland. The dam at the time was the largest in the world and still is the largest in the US. The dam gets its name from Herbert Hoover, the president of the United States at the time it was being built, although it was completed in Roosevelt’s term.
Hoover Dam is open between 5 am to 9 pm, visitors can view the dam from above by simply driving over the bridge free of charge. There is also a pedestrian footpath, with incredible views of the dam and the surrounding mountains, creating excellent photo opportunities. Alternatively, visitors can also choose between 30-minute tours of the power plant and visitor center for $15 or a longer 1-hour tour of hoover’s dam and the visitor center for double the fee.
When faced with the gigantic proportions of Hoover Dam and Lake Mead with the mountains as a perfect backdrop, one cannot help but feel rather small in comparison. If you happen to be in Vegas it’s worth the 30-minute drive to Hoover Dam’s to join the millions every year who visit this architectural unparalleled extravagance.