Hoover Dam

Visit the Impressive Hoover Dam

Anyone traveling to the Grand Canyon cannot miss the Hoover Dam! Helicopter flights, bus tours, and travel by rental car all take you past America’s second-largest dam. Annually, the Hoover Dam welcomes nearly 1 million visitors.

The Hoover Dam was constructed during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Stock prices plummeted, leading to a significant economic downturn. Thousands of workers labored under harsh conditions to build the dam, which opened on March 1, 1936. The Hoover Dam is an impressive feat of engineering with a rich history. If you have the chance, it’s definitely worth visiting during a Hoover Dam tour!

Helicopter Flight Over the Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam Helicopter Tour
Hoover Dam Helicopter Tour

You can enjoy a fantastic view of the Hoover Dam from a helicopter. Nearly all helicopter flights from Las Vegas destined for the Grand Canyon fly over the Hoover Dam. Check out all the helicopter tours from Las Vegas via the button below. In the tours, you can see at ‘Features’ whether you fly past the impressive Hoover Dam.

Hoover Dam Bus Tour

Bus tour to the Hoover Dam
Hoover Dam bus tour

There is also a bus from Las Vegas to the Hoover Dam. With the Hoover Dam Bus Tour, you are picked up from your hotel in Las Vegas and driven to the Hoover Dam in 45 minutes. You spend about 2 hours at the Hoover Dam and receive a guided tour through the impressive dam. After the 4.5-hour bus tour, you are brought back to Las Vegas.

Individual Tickets for the Hoover Dam

view of hoover dam from the air
Visit the Hoover Dam

Of course, you can also visit the Hoover Dam on your own, for example, with your rental car on the way to the Grand Canyon. The Dam is easily accessible, and there is good parking available. The Hoover Dam offers tours that you can book online to avoid the queue!

You get access to the visitors center with an exhibition, a 10-minute film about the Hoover Dam, a guided tour inside the dam’s construction (reachable by an elevator descending 525 feet), and access to “The Observation Deck,” with beautiful views over the dam and Lake Mead.

Visiting the Hoover Dam

The Hoover Dam can be visited every day of the week. The impressive dam near Las Vegas is open daily from 09:00 to 17:00. Note that new visitors are not admitted after 16:15, and the last tour through the Hoover Dam leaves at 15:45. On holidays like Thanksgiving (fourth Thursday in November) and Christmas, the Hoover Dam is closed.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Hoover Dam

What does it cost to visit the Hoover Dam?

You can view the Hoover Dam from the outside, which costs you absolutely nothing. If you want to go inside the Hoover Dam, there are a number of tours available starting at $10. You can also book an organized bus tour from Las Vegas starting at $54 per person. Lastly, you can fly over the Hoover Dam in a helicopter starting from $200 to $300 per person. There’s something for every budget!

Can I park at the Hoover Dam?

You can park your car for $10 in a parking garage near the Hoover Dam. You can also drive over the dam (to the Arizona side) and park your car for free on a few small parking fields. Parking here is limited, so you either need to be lucky or arrive early at the Hoover Dam.

If you’re coming in an RV, you cannot park in the parking garage. Instead, you must drive over the Hoover Dam and park it on the Arizona side. A map of all parking facilities can be found on the Bureau of Reclamation’s website. This map also indicates whether parking is free or paid.

How much time do you need at the Hoover Dam?

Upon arriving at the Hoover Dam, you can take the Guided Dam Tour and Power Plant Tour. The Guided Dam Tour lasts one hour, and the Power Plant Tour lasts 30 minutes. Additionally, you’ll spend time in the Visitor Center and, of course, want to admire the Dam from the outside. Overall, you can easily spend 2 to 4 hours exploring and around the Hoover Dam.

What are the opening hours of the Hoover Dam?

The Hoover Dam is open from 09:00 to 17:00, excluding Thanksgiving (fourth Thursday of November) and Christmas. The doors of the dam close at 16:15, and the last Hoover Dam tour departs at 15:45.

How tall is the Hoover Dam?

The Hoover Dam is 726.4 feet high, or 221.4 meters.

How much did the Hoover Dam cost?

The Hoover Dam was built between 1930 and 1936. The cost to build the Dam was 49 million dollars. Today, this would be equivalent to approximately 1 billion dollars.

In which time zone is the Hoover Dam located?

The Hoover Dam is precisely located on the border of Arizona and Nevada. In the middle of the dam, you stand in two states at once. You also stand in two time zones at once: Nevada observes Pacific Standard Time (PST) and Arizona observes Mountain Standard Time (MST). That’s a one-hour time difference. How unique is that?

Film About the Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam History

Reason for the Construction of the Hoover Dam
For millions of years, the Colorado River flowed uninterrupted from the Rocky Mountains to the Gulf of California. With its devastating power, over time, the Colorado has left behind a particularly impressive landscape with the characteristic colossal gorges such as the Grand Canyon and the Black Canyon. The melting snow from the Rocky Mountains caused massive inflow into the Colorado, resulting in floods. Every spring anew.

Uitzicht vanaf de Hoover Dam
View from the Hoover Dam

As settlements began to establish in the lower-lying areas, this natural phenomenon led to inconvenience and significant damage. Especially the farms located here suffered greatly. The turbulent river needed to be tamed.

Therefore, Herbert Hoover proposed in 1921 the construction of what was then to be called the Boulder Dam (after the same part of the Canyon: Boulder Canyon). Due to the involvement and efforts of the then Secretary of Commerce, the dam was named Hoover Dam. The final location is at the level of the Black Canyon. Besides controlling the periodic floods, the water could be stored for irrigation and utility purposes. A self-sustaining dam that could generate income from water-generated electricity.

Construction of the Hoover Dam
In 1931 – by then Hoover had risen to become the 31st President of the United States – the construction of the gigantic dam began. Thousands of male workers (± 21,000) came with their families to the Black Canyon to tame the Colorado. During the Great Depression, the working conditions were particularly miserable. Unbearable heat and a significant lack of hygiene ultimately led to the death of 96 people. This led to so much protest that the town of Boulder City was built in haste.

Completion of the Hoover Dam
Two years ahead of schedule, the construction of the Hoover Dam was completed in 1936. What was special about the project was that the concrete was poured in vertical columns to aid in the drying of the material. The Hoover Dam contains 215 of these blocks, which were then made into a monolithic whole using a special technique. All in all, this accounted for about 3.25 million cubic yards (= approximately 2.5 million liters) of concrete. That’s enough concrete to lay a two-lane road from Seattle, Washington to Miami, Florida. Or a sidewalk over a meter wide around the entire world (!). Additionally, approximately 5 million barrels of cement were used for construction, and 8.5 million in dynamite to make the foundation in the Canyon walls available.

For Las Vegas, the Hoover Dam Project was a godsend. It boosted the economy that desperately needed it at the time. In their free time, people sought entertainment, heading to the nearby gambling capital to spend their hard-earned money. Moreover, the dam attracted tourists, and tourism in Las Vegas flourished.

An impactful and intensive, but also successful project. Since its completion, the Hoover Dam has provided many benefits. With 3.0 million horsepower, the dam today generates 4 billion kWh annually. Enough to supply energy to 1.3 billion people in the states of Nevada (25%), Arizona (19%), and California (56%). Additionally, the Hoover Dam provides water supply to as many as 22 million people in these states.

Turbines in de Hoover Dam
Turbines in the Hoover Dam

Lake Mead
A byproduct of the Hoover Dam is Lake Mead: a reservoir behind the dam covering an area of 640 km² (247 square miles) that stretches up to 177 kilometers (110 miles) behind the dam. A maximum depth of 149 meters (489 feet) ensures that the volume of this massive lake adds up to 35.2 km³ (28,500,000 acre-feet). With a shoreline totaling 885 kilometers (550 miles), it is thereby the largest artificial lake and reservoir in the United States (and the 16th largest in the world). The lake is named after Elwood Mead, who was the head of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation when the Hoover Dam was built. He supervised the project.

The lake is located at a point where three desert ecosystems meet: the Mojave, Great Basin, and the Sonoran deserts. Therefore, the surrounding area contains a very diverse flora and fauna, some species of which can only be found there. Also present are impressive lava hills, which are about 6 million years old. Due to the creation of the lake after the construction of the dam, several surrounding villages had to be evacuated. Depending on the water level, ruins of these places are visible.

About the author

Author Pieter

Hi, my name is Pieter. In 2009, I made my first trip to the United States. In 2012, 2019, 2020, 2022, and 2023, I had the opportunity to travel to this special country again. On this website, I write with great passion and pleasure about one of the most beautiful wonders of nature, the Grand Canyon. On this page, you can find all my blogs.