hoover dam

Guide To Visit Hoover Dam

Less than an hour from the Las Vegas strip, the Hoover Dam offers visitors a wonderful day trip that is extraordinary for its equal parts natural beauty and history. 

Getting from the Las Vegas airport to Hoover Dam is easy and this is the premier day trip in the Las Vegas region.

Built during the Great Depression (1931-1936), Hoover Dam is a National Historic Landmark, one of America's Seven Modern Civil Engineering Wonders, and is a must see destination on your next visit to the Entertainment Capital of the World!

At more than 700 feet high and 1,200 feet long, this engineering marvel is situated in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River.

Black Canyon is named for the high concentration of volcanic basalt rock visible in the El Dorado Mountains (Nevada side) and Black Mountains (Arizona side) that squeeze the Colorado River into a narrow channel in the hottest part of the Mojave desert. This location was approved for the dam project in 1928 and the land remains much the same as it did then; desert wilderness, mazes of towering canyons, eroded peaks, cacti-covered hills.

A visit to Hoover Dam also takes you into Lake Mead National Recreation Area where you can explore America’s first and largest national recreation area, a 1.5 million acre playground administered by the National Park Service.

hoover damn

Driving Directions To Hoover Dam from Las Vegas

The drive from Las Vegas to the Hoover Dam takes about 45 minutes and is approximately 30 miles. Here are step by step directions to get there:

  •  Take US Highway 93 South and continue to Boulder City (approximately 20 miles).
  •  In Boulder City, take a left at the second stoplight, keeping on US 93.
  •  Continue on US 93 for approximately 5 miles to Nevada State Route 172 - the Hoover Dam Access Road.
  •  Take NV SR 172 for approximately 2 miles to the Dam.

Hoover Dam Hours

Hoover Dam Visitors Center is open to the public every day from 5 am to 9 pm.

It is located approximately 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas, on the Nevada-Arizona border. 

The Dam does not have a street address. These GPS coordinates can be used to locate the site: 

N 36.016222, W -114.737245

Hoover Dam Parking

If you drive yourself to the Hoover Dam, a 400 plus-space parking garage is located across from the visitors center on the Nevada side of the dam. The parking garage charges a $10 fee.

This parking garage does not accommodate oversized vehicles, recreational vehicles, or vehicles with trailers. For these vehicle types, visitors must use the parking lots on the Arizona side of the dam.

In Arizona, the closest Hoover Dam parking lot to the visitors center also charges $10.  It is located adjacent to the highway  – left side – as you enter Arizona. The other four parking areas further into Arizona offer parking free of charge but require a half-mile long walk.

what to do at hoover dam

Hoover Dam Visitors Center Tour

Papillon offers a variety of Hoover Dam tours from Las Vegas to help plan your trip. The most popular activity at the Dam are the various tours on site of the facilities offered by the Bureau of Reclamation, the government agency that administers the Hoover Dam and more than 600 other dams and reservoirs throughout the United States.  

Hoover Dam tours are offered daily ( 9  a.m. to 5 p.m) every day of the year except Thanksgiving and Christmas day. Tours are a great way to  take in the history of this engineering marvel and experience interactive exhibits that highlight contributions the Hoover Dam have made to the region. 

There are also various Hoover Dam bus tours that offer guided, VIP tours, further enhancing the travel experience. 

Here are the tours available:

hoover dam visitor center

Self-Guided Visitor Center Tour Lets Visitors:

  • Immerse themselves in the history of Hoover Dam through narrated exhibits.
  • Enjoy a 360 degree view of the Dam, Colorado River, Lake Mead and Hoover Bypass Bridge from the Observation Deck.
  • Visit the Original Exhibit Building with narrated 3D model of the region's dams and power systems.
  • Doors close at 4:15 p.m. each day so arrive before then and still until 5 p.m. 

Guided Hoover Dam Powerplant Tour Lets Visitors:

  • Walk through original construction tunnels.
  • Visit the viewing platform overlooking a 30 foot diameter penstock – feel the  vibration created by water rushing through the pipe.
  • See eight of the commercial generators in the Nevada Powerhouse.

The Powerplant tour includes a 30-minute guided tour of the powerplan. Last tour departs at 3:45 p.m. each day. Powerplant tour visitors can also take a self-guided Visitor Center tour.

Guided Hoover Dam Tour Lets Visitors:

  • Visit historic tour tunnels and ride original elevator to the top of Hoover Dam.
  • Walk through the inspection tunnels at the center of Hoover Dam.
  • View the Colorado River through the inspection ventilation shaft.

The Hoover Dam tour includes a 1-hour guided tour of the powerplant and passageways within the dam itself. Last tour departs at 3:45 p.m. each day. Guided Hoover Dam tour visitors can also participate in the guided Powerplant tour and self-guided themselves around the Visitor Center.

Hoover Dam Helicopter Tour

If you wish to capture amazing photos and video on your visit to Hoover Dam, a Hoover Dam Helicopter Tour is the most exciting way to experience this historical landmark while also taking in amazing views of Lake Mead and the Colorado River.

This airborne adventure covers approximately 10 miles at the height of approximately 2,500 feet above Hoover Dam and the Mike O’Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge.

Excellent photo opportunities are possible from both sides of the helicopter and every seat is perfect for sightseeing.

hoover dam hours

Tips for Visiting Hoover Dam

Here is a list of helpful tips and reminders before you head out on your Hoover Dam adventure: 

  • It’s hot out there- Especially in the summer, be prepared for extreme conditions; lots of sunshine, limited shade, and, in Fall and Spring, wind. The elevation of the Hoover Dam is 1,232 feet, 8,00-2,000 feet lower than the Las Vegas Valley meaning you can expect it to be 5-6 degrees warmer at the Dam. Bring lots of water and sun protection. 
  • See the dam for free- You can drive over the Hoover Dam Bypass bridge, which spans the length of the Black Canyon from Nevada to Arizona, for free. Also called the Mike O'Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, this route rerouted US 93 from its previous circuitous route atop Hoover Dam. You can spy sweet views of the engineering marvel from this 1,900 foot bridge.
  • Give yourself plenty of time- The drive from Las Vegas to the Hoover Dam takes about an hour, you’ll want to enjoy the various tours at the visitors center, walk the bridge, and explore the natural beauty and nearby Lake Mead. Plan on spending half or (better) a full day on this excursion.

Frequently Asked Questions About Visiting Hoover Dam

Where is the Hoover Dam located?

The Hoover Dam lies between the state lines of Nevada and Arizona, just over 30 miles (48 km) from Las Vegas. This massive architectural feat stretches across the Colorado River at a narrow point in Black Canyon.

What is the climate like at Hoover Dam?

Due to its location within the Black Canyon of the Mojave Desert, temperatures range from a chilly 55 F (13 C ) in winter times to a scorching 115 ;F (46 C) in summertime. Visitors are highly encouraged to check the forecast before visiting this area and to wear light clothing, hats, and sunscreen when visiting in the summer.

How much does it cost to visit Hoover Dam?

The Hoover Dam charges visitors both a vehicle parking fee of $10 and an admission fee ranging from $10-$30, depending on the tour you choose. Travelers onboard one of Papillon’s Hoover Dam tours will have their admission fee included in the total cost of their tour purchase.

Can you fly over the Hoover Dam?

Yes, Papillon offers helicopter tours at Hoover Dam. It is the most rewarding way to experience this massive landscape and engineering marvel.

Can you tour the inside of Hoover Dam?

Yes, on the one-hour guided Hoover Dam Tour, it includes a tour of the powerplant and passageways within the dam itself.

How accessible is the Hoover Dam?

The Hoover Dam is a fully accessible destination for visitors. The parking lot offers plentiful accessible parking spaces (free with placard or plates). An elevator is available to bring guests to the Visitor’s Center, where your fully-accessible Powerplant tour begins. Also located within the dam is a movie theater with several spaces for wheelchairs or mobility equipment, and accessible restrooms.

Who Guides Hoover Dam Tours?

Your Hoover Dam tour will be led by a Bureau of Reclamation employee. The United States Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) is a division within the United States Department of the Interior. The USBR is responsible for managing water used for the production of hydroelectric power as well as irrigation and distribution across the nation.