The Best 11 Things To Do At Hoover Dam! (2024)

The Hoover Dam in Nevada with the river against it and rocky cliffs in the background.

Want to know the best things to do at Hoover Dam? Discover more than just the dam! Walk between Arizona and Nevada, tour the water plant, and catch the best view from Memorial Bridge. Don’t miss out on the visitor center, Lake Mead, or kayaking the Colorado River.

Unsure about making it a day trip from Vegas? I was too before doing my research, but I ended up surprised at finding hidden gems beyond the dam. As someone who majored in interior architecture, places like the Hoover Dam geek me out. For folks heading to Vegas and checking out the Hoover Dam, this guide is your key to an unforgettable adventure.

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11 Things To Do At Hoover Dam

1. Learn The History of Hoover Dam

Constructed during the Great Depression between 1931 and 1936, the Hoover Dam is the first of its engineering kind. Spanning the Colorado River along the Arizona-Nevada border, this massive concrete dam was built for multiple purposes like flood control, irrigation water supply, and hydroelectric power generation.

Essentially, it tames the wild Colorado River, transforming its flow into a reliable water source for agriculture and municipalities, as well as a steady supply of renewable energy for the surrounding region.

Plus, the creation of Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the United States formed by the dam, marks it as a crucial element for water conservation in the arid Southwest. In simple terms, the Hoover Dam plays a pivotal role in providing water and power, a true lifeline for parts of the American West. While there are so many bucket list things to do in Vegas, taking a day trip to see the Hoover Dam is a must for anyone.

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2. The Dam Tour

There are two tours you can take and the first one is on the Dam itself. You can immerse yourself in the monumental history, mechanics, and purpose with a guided tour. Not only will you learn about the foundations and formation that led to the dam’s creation during the Great Depression, but you’ll also be taken into the heart of the structure to see the powerful generators at work.

The tour is rich with historical tidbits, including the labor-intensive process of creating the dam’s intricate art-deco designs and how it transformed the desert landscape into Lake Mead. This tour is mainly about the construction and how it has helped our country thrive. When you check out the Hoover Dam, get ready for an amazing experience.

This affordable Hoover Dam tour picks you up from your hotel in Vegas!

3. The Power Plant Tour

The second tour shows how the water and the dam work together to create power. Beyond the history, the Powerplant Tour provides an in-depth look at the electricity-generating side of the dam. It’s an electrifying (no pun intended) experience, where visitors see the giant generators that power millions of homes in the Southwest.

This portion of the tour is particularly interesting for science and engineering enthusiasts, offering insights into the hydroelectricity process that keeps the electrons flowing from the Colorado River across Arizona, California, and Nevada. It’s a fascinating look into how human innovation and nature can come together to create something truly remarkable.

4. Walk Across Memorial Bridge

The Colorado River’s sparkling waters stand out next to Hoover Dam’s massive white concrete wall. When you stroll or bike across the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, you get a cool view of the dam and see its size and importance from a new angle.

Honoring two American heroes, this bridge is a modern touch at the historic site. It also acts as a protective measure for the dam, diverting traffic away from any potential disasters. Spanning 1,900 feet, the bridge boasts the longest concrete arch in the Western Hemisphere.

Take a leisurely stroll across this impressive structure and enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. It’s a perfect way to cap off your visit to Hoover Dam before heading back home, with a newfound appreciation for both its past and present.

5. The Visitor’s Center

Bronze statue of a man with a cap sitting on cables, this art is found at the visitor center. one of the best things to do at Hoover Dam

Don’t skip the Visitor’s Center. It has great shopping and educational parts so you can brush up on the dam’s story, watch multimedia presentations, and enjoy interactive exhibits. You can also pick up some souvenirs and grab a bite to eat at the café.

Learn about the challenges that went into constructing the Hoover Dam, including its massive size and controversial impacts on local ecosystems. With its historical significance and engineering feats, it’s no wonder that the Hoover Dam is considered a modern wonder of the world.

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6. Walk Across the Nevada-Arizona Border

While you’re at the dam, did you know you can walk across the border from Nevada into Arizona? Situated on the Nevada-Arizona border, this massive structure lets you wander between states while enjoying amazing views.

What makes it extra cool? The towers that mark different time zones of each state. So, as you cross from Nevada to Arizona (or vice versa), you’re hopping through time zones, turning your walk into a unique mix of scenery and mini-time travel fun. Plus, you get to brag about strolling through two states and time zones all at once!

7. Lake Mead – Lakeview Overlook

Lake Mead, the largest man-made reservoir in the United States, offers boating, fishing, and a whole host of water sports. If you’re short on time, stop at the Lake Mead Overlook to gaze at the shimmering waters from the viewpoint.

For those interested in a closer look, consider a boat tour to explore the lake’s coves and unusual rock formations, they are remnants of the area’s pre-dam geological splendor.

Check out this Self-Guided Hoover Dam & Lake Mead audio tour for less than $10!

8. Go Hiking – Historic Railroad Hiking Trail

Just because you’re in the desert doesn’t mean there’s a lack of scenic trails to go on. The Historic Railroad Trail gives you a unique vantage point of the dam’s overlooked side and passes through five original tunnels that serviced the railroad during the dam’s construction.

It’s an easy, family-friendly hike that’s also pet-friendly, so you can bring furry friends along for the adventure. The views of Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam from the trail are postcard-perfect, especially during the golden hour.

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9. Kayak the Colorado River

If you’re an outdoor enthusiast seeking an up-close adventure, renting a kayak is a must. Paddling on the serene waters of the Colorado River provides a perspective of the canyon not achieved anywhere else.

Glide through Black Canyon’s steep, baked cliffs, spot wildlife, and take in the contrasts of the azure waters and the rocky desert landscape. Remember to pack your sunscreen and a waterproof camera for those picture-perfect moments.

With this package, you can Kayak, SUP, or Hydrobike on Lake Mead. How cool is that!

10. Check Out the Wildlife

Nature lovers will be delighted by the variety of wildlife you can spot near the dam. The sheer cliffs and stony ridges of Black Canyon are home to desert bighorn sheep, and the skies are often filled with the soaring wings of great blue herons and other avian species.

There are more than 240 species of birds that either reside in the area or migrate through including bald eagles. For a unique wildlife experience, consider a guided river tour that often includes animal spotting as part of the itinerary.

11. Sample Food In Boulder City

After a long day of exploring, you’ll probably work up an appetite. Luckily, there are a few eateries nearby to satisfy your hunger. The Hoover Dam Cafe on the Nevada side is an ideal spot for a casual bite with views of the dam. The full-service restaurant at the Hoover Dam Lodge is perfect if you’re looking for a sit-down meal with a southwestern flair.

When looking for places to eat in Boulder City, be sure to check out The Dillinger for some delicious American cuisine in a trendy setting. If you’re in the mood for classic diner food, Pit Stop is a great choice with its casual atmosphere and tasty menu options.

Here’s a Boulder City Historic District Self-guided Tour for only $20!

What To Know Before You Go!

Parking At Hoover Dam

Parking is pretty simple but in demand, so it’s crucial to plan ahead. If you can, arrive early or opt for one of the many tour packages that include transportation. If you’re driving, there is a parking garage on the Nevada side of the dam that charges $10 per car, and a parking lot on the Arizona side, which is free to park.

Restroom At Hoover Dam

There are multiple restrooms available on the Hoover Dam bridge (where red arrows are pointing in the picture). They are all free and include vending machines inside. While they’re not the fanciest they will get the job done after a long drive from the city. Remember to bring extra toilet paper and hand sanitizer just in case they are not well stocked up.

Driving From Las Vegas To Hoover Dam

If you’re opting for a self-guided trip, driving from Las Vegas to the Hoover Dam is a scenic and straightforward 45-minute drive. Make sure to take the I-215 E and I-11 S and then switch to US-93 for stunning views of the desert and a few photo ops along the way.

Download this awesome Self-Guided Driving Audio Tour to learn in the car for less than $20!

Best Tours To Take From Las Vegas

The Hoover Dam is an ideal day trip from Las Vegas and can be included in any itinerary. If you’re not renting a car, here are my top 3 recommended tours to experience the Hoover Dam.

1. Hoover Dam Tour + Lunch! Explore this Hoover Dam Tour for history buffs and engineering enthusiasts. Delve into the dam’s construction, history, and significance while enjoying a guided experience. Indulge in lunch and a visit to the Ethel M Chocolate Factory for a delightful mix of education and exploration.

Explore it here!

2. Seven Magic Mountains, Welcome To Las Vegas Sign + Hoover Dam! Ideal tour for culture and art lovers! Visit Seven Magic Mountains for vibrant art, snap pics at the Welcome to Las Vegas sign, and enjoy a hassle-free experience with hotel pickup, drop-off, and bottled water provided. Discover unique sights beyond the city!

Check it out here!

3. Seven Magic Mountains, Grand Canyon + Hoover Dam! Explore nature’s beauty at the Grand Canyon & Hoover Dam on a half-day tour. Also included is the Seven Magic Mountains and Welcome To Las Vegas sign. Perfect for a quick outdoor escape from the city. This tour is ideal for nature lovers & history enthusiasts!

Discover it here!


How much time do you need at the Hoover Dam?

When planning your visit to the Hoover Dam, it’s recommended to allocate at least 2-3 hours to fully explore and appreciate this iconic landmark. This should allow you enough time to take a guided tour, visit the exhibits, and take in the engineering spectacle, plus enjoy the scenic views of the Colorado River.

Can you walk around the Hoover Dam for free?

Yes, visitors can walk around the Hoover Dam for free. The public areas around the dam, including the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, offer stunning views of the dam and surrounding area at no cost.

Keep in mind that there are fees for tours and certain attractions within the dam itself. It’s a great spot for taking in the impressive engineering feat and learning about the history of this iconic structure.

Is it worth going inside the Hoover Dam?

Visiting the Hoover Dam is definitely worth it! Inside the dam, you can explore the power plant, visit the exhibit halls, and even take a guided tour to see the inner workings of this iconic structure up close.

Whether you’re interested in engineering, or history, or just want to see a remarkable piece of American infrastructure, going inside the Hoover Dam is a unique and educational experience not to be missed.

Final Thoughts-

When taking a day trip from Las Vegas some things to do at Hoover Dam are, to make sure to walk between Arizona and Nevada, take a tour of the water plant, and catch the best views from Memorial Bridge. These activities offer a perfect blend of adventure, and education, plus beautiful sights that truly showcase the Hoover Dam’s greatness.

Happy exploring!

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What Are My Recommended Resources For Planning A Trip?

When planning my trip, I use my trusted trio of CheapOair, Viator, and to provide a comprehensive solution for everything I need.

CheapOair is a go-to resource for affordable flight tickets. With its extensive network of over 600 airlines, it offers a wide array of choices, enabling you to easily compare prices and select the best deal that suits your budget and travel schedule.

Viator on the other hand, is an excellent platform for booking tours and activities. It provides access to thousands of sightseeing tours, attractions, and events in over 1,500 locations worldwide. It ensures you don’t miss out on the unique experiences each destination has to offer. is your reliable partner for accommodations. With over 28 million listings including hotels, apartments, and hostels, you can find the perfect place to stay that fits your budget and preference.

Together, these platforms make trip planning convenient, cost-effective, and fun. They ensure you have everything you need, from flights and accommodations to activities – at your fingertips.

Check Out My Resources Page For All My Recommended Travel Tools!


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