Anyone traveling to the Grand Canyon can hardly miss the Hoover Dam! Helicopter flights, bus tours and transport with your own rental car all lead you along the second largest dam in America. The Hoover Dam receives nearly 1 million visitors every year. Enough reasons to list the Hoover Dam Tours!
Hoover Dam Tours
There are various options for viewing the Hoover Dam: from the air, with organized transport (by bus) or on your own.
1. Helicopter flight Hoover Dam
You can have a fantastic view of the Hoover Dam from a helicopter. Virtually all helicopter flights from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon fly over the Hoover Dam. View the top 10 helicopter flights via the link below. Tour 3, 4, 5 and 7 from this list all fly over the impressive Hoover Dam!
2. Hoover Dam bus tour
There is also a bus from Las Vegas to Hoover Dam. The Hoover Dam Bus Tour picks you up from your hotel in Las Vegas and takes you to Hoover Dam in 45 minutes. You will be at the Hoover Dam for an hour and a half, during which you will have access to the Visitor Center, the museum and the movie “Construction of the Hoover Dam”.
3. Own transport
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. Dam Square is easily accessible and there is good parking available.
The Hoover Dam offers the Powerplan Tour that you can already reserve online. Saves another queue! Some details of the tour:
- You can book the tour up to 90 days before your visit.
- The cost is $15 for adults and $12 for children (4-16 years) and seniors (62+).
- What do you get for it? A lot! Access to the visitors center with a Hoover Dam exhibit, a 10-minute Hoover Dam movie, a tour of the dam’s construction (accessible by an elevator that descends 160 meters), and access to “The Observation Deck” , with beautiful views over the dam and Lake Mead.
- The Hoover Dam is operated by the Bureau of Reclamation, part of the Department of the Interior.
Movie about the Hoover dam
Hoover Dam history
Reason for construction Hoover Dam
For millions of years, the Colorado River flowed continuously from the Rocky Mountains to the Gulf of California. With its destructive power, the Colorado has over time left a very impressive landscape with the signature colossal canyons such as the Grand Canyon and the Black Canyon. The melting snow from the Rocky Mountains caused enormous influx into the Colorado resulting in flooding. Every spring again.
View from Hoover Dam
When settlements started to settle in the lower areas, this natural disaster led to nuisance and a lot of damage. Especially the farms that were located here had a lot to suffer from this. The tumultuous river had to be tamed.
That is why, in 1921, Herbert Hoover suggested the construction of what would then be called Boulder Dam (as the part of the Canyon of the same name: Boulder Canyon). Due to the involvement and efforts of the then Minister of Economic Affairs, the dam was given the name Hoover Dam. The final location is at the height of the Black Canyon. In addition to curbing periodic flooding, the dam could store the water for irrigation and use purposes. A self-sufficient dam that could generate an income from electricity generated by water.
Build Hoover Dam
In 1931 – by now Hoover had worked his way up to the 31st president of the United States – construction work on the giant dam began. Thousands of male workers (about 21,000) came with their families to the Black Canyon to tame the Colorado. During the Great Depression, conditions were particularly miserable to work in. Insufferable heat and a great lack of hygiene eventually led to the death of 96 people. This led to so much protest that the town of Boulder City was built at an accelerated pace.
Hoover Dam Completion
Construction of Hoover Dam was completed two years earlier than expected in 1936. What was special about the project was that the concrete was poured into vertical columns. This is for drying the material. The Hoover Dam contains 215 of those blocks which were then made into a monolithic whole using a special technique. All in all good for about 3.25 million cubic yards (= about 2.5 million liters) of concrete. That’s enough concrete to build a two-lane road from Seattle, Washington to Miami, Florida. Or a sidewalk of more than a meter wide around the world (!). In addition, approximately 5 million barrels of cement and 8.5 million worth of dynamite were used to build the foundation in the Canyon walls.
The Hoover Dam Project came just in time for Las Vegas. It gave a boost to the economy that it so desperately needed at the time. In their spare time, people in need of entertainment went to the nearby gambling capital to spend their hard-earned money there. In addition, the dam attracted tourists and tourism in Las Vegas also flourished.
A radical and intensive, but also successful project. Since its completion, the Hoover Dam has brought many benefits. With 3.0 million horsepower, the dam today generates 4 billion kWh annually. Enough to power 1.3 billion people in the states of Nevada (25%), Arizona (19%) and California (56%). In addition, the Hoover Dam provides water to as many as 22 million people in these states.
A by-product of the Hoover Dam is Lake Mead: a 640 km2 reservoir behind the dam that extends 177 kilometers beyond the dam. A maximum depth of 149 meters makes the volume of this huge lake add up to 35.2 km³. With a total coastline of 885 km, it is the largest man-made lake and reservoir in the United States (and the 16th largest in the world). The lake is named after Elwood Mead, head of U.S. Bureau of Reclamation when Hoover Dam was built. He oversaw the project.
The lake is located at a point where three desert ecosystems converge: the Mojave, Great Basin, and the Sonoran deserts. The surrounding area therefore contains a very diverse flora and fauna, some species of which can only be found there. You will also find impressive lava hills, which are 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.
- Height: 726.4 feet (221.4 meters).
- Dam thickness: At the top the dam is about 15 meters wide, but at the bottom it is around 200 meters.
- Weight: 6.6 million tons.
- Maximum water pressure: 45,000 pounds per square foot (approximately 20.5 thousand pounds per 0.09 m2).
- Cost: $49 million (today $676 million).
- Traffic: About 13,000 to 16,000 people pass the dam every day.
- Location: On the border of Arizona and Nevada, near Boulder City, 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas.
- Time zone: The Hoover Dam is located exactly on the border of Arizona and Nevada. So in the middle of the dam you are in two states at the same time. You are also in two time zones at the same time: in Nevada the Pacific Standard Time (PST) applies and in Arizona the Mountain Standard Time (MST). One hour time difference. How special is that?