Ok, I was supposed to be working, but it just didn’t work out that way. I had to go to Las Vegas for a series of meeting on Monday and Tuesday. The Monday meeting started at 1330, so I saw no reason to ruin my weekend and go out on Sunday night. I had an early Monday flight that got me in to Las Vegas around 1100. So on when some one canceled the Monday meeting, but kept the Tuesday meeting on, I decided that I wasn’t going to mess with my flights. I’d just go see the Hoover Dam. I’ve been wanting to see the Hoover Dam since the 3rd or 4th grade when I read about it in a book about all the wonders of the world.
So I landed at LAS and visited the new “Consolidated Rental Car Facility” to pick up my rental car and headed to the hotel. I was able to check in even though it was around noon. With a rental car map and a full tank of gas I headed for the dam. The drive was not bad. It took me about 45 minutes to drive out there and that included a stop to get some chicken strips to eat in the car while driving.
As you approach the dam from the Nevada side, there is a parking garage on the left. For $7.00 you can park in there as long as you want. Since I was in a Chevy Malibu it didn’t really matter, but the clearance on the garage was 13 feet. (I tend to notice these things since I ask myself “Where would I park the RV if I were driving?”). Down the stairs and you get funneled into the Visitor’s Center. There a big signs warning you that they are about to get money from you. The first thing you see in the Visitor’s Center is a cash register.
For $11.00 per adult they let you get in line for a movie, followed by a tour. The movie is about 10 minutes long. It contains the highlights and summary of the history of the dam. I’ve seen an hour version of the movie on one of the “educational” cable channels (History, Discovery or some such) . Once you come out of the movie, you get in line for the elevator. A full theater seems to fit into two elevators. The elevators drop you some 550 feet to the power generation level of the complex. Here you can see the turbines that are used to generate electricity. This is the Nevada side of the complex, there are a duplicate set (plus one) on the Arizona side. From the power generation level they take you back to the elevator for another drop of a few feet and show you the original diversion channels that were created to take the river around the spot the dam was built at. This is followed by another elevator ride, back to the top of the Visitor’s Center to see the exhibits.
The rest of the tour is “self guided.” Which really means the tour is over, and you get to wander around the exhibits on your own. Once you walk out of exhibits, and the building you basically leave the Visitor’s Center and walk across the street to where the old Visitor Center and an audio exhibit center are. Needless to say there is a gift shop and snack bar at this point. You can also walk across the dam, stop to take pictures and look down the sides. You can not walk onto the intake towers as they have those chained off.
If you don’t want to pay to park and take the tour, it appears that there are some free parking spots on the Arizona side of the dam. From these sort of “overlook” areas it is not difficult to walk down the sidewalks to the dam and then walk across it.
The view back to Lake Mead and opposite downstream is nice. In the lake you can see the waterlines that show how high the water has actually been in the past.
I put some of my pictures of the dam here.