How to Visit the Hoover Dam: The Best “Dam” Things to Do

9 Things You Can't Miss at the Hoover Dam

The Hoover Dam is a jaw-dropping structure everyone should visit if traveling to Las Vegas. It is about 45 minutes southwest of Las Vegas and is often visited on the way to the Grand Canyon, or as a day trip from Vegas.

Getting There

The Hoover Dam is about 40 minutes away from Las Vegas and about 4 hours away from the Grand Canyon’s South Rim.

Security Checkpoint

As you’re driving into the dam, you’ll encounter a security checkpoint. This is a heavily secured structure, as any damage to the structure would affect millions of people in Las Vegas and California.


When you arrive, signs will point you to the multi-level parking structure. They charge a reasonable fee for parking.

For the super frugal, it is possible to drive over the dam and park at one of the viewpoints on the other side (Arizona side), then walk back across the dam to the visitor center and gift shop.

Winged Figures of the Republic Sculpture

The first major site you’ll encounter is the memorial to both America and those who planned and worked on the Hoover Dam. This was created by Oscar J.W. Hansen to honor America’s might and accomplishments.

There are some memorials here commemorating Elwood Mead, commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation (for whom Lake Mead is named after), and those who died during the construction of the dam.

NOTE: It’s a myth that workers died by being buried underneath pouring cement.

Admire the Art Deco

The Winged Figures of the Republic is just the start of the art you’ll encounter at the Hoover Dam. It’s clear that this monumental accomplishment was viewed as a major moment in America, and those involved wanted to honor the triumph.

Walk Across the Dam

You must walk across the dam on both sides of the road. The north side provides views of Lake Mead, and the south side provides views of Black Canyon and the new overpass bridge (see below).

Stand in Two Time Zones

This canyon is the state line for Nevada and Arizona, which are located in two different time zones. So as you cross over the dam, you are not only crossing into another state but another time zone.

However, Arizona does not use daylight saving time, so during the summer, the two states are on the same time.

Visitor Center

The new visitor center provides nice views of the dam from the deck.

It costs $10 to enter the visitor center. They refer to it as a “self-guided tour.”

There are historical exhibits and a movie to watch for information about the construction of the dam.


You can purchase a tour to go to the bottom of the dam. I did this years ago, but when we last visited the tours were shut down due to COVID.

Old Visitor Center

The Old Visitor Center is included with the $10 visitor center fee.

This is the original visitor center and offers a huge diorama display of all the dams in the West.

We got a chuckle out of how old-school this was! A voice-over narration played while lights highlighted the diorama.

Cafe & Gift Shop

There is a cafe and gift shop near the parking lot, so feel free to grab yourself some “dam” related souvenirs. There are a lot of puns going on in here.

The High Scaler Monument

More artwork, this time honoring those brave men who scaled the canyon walls during construction.

Drive Over the Dam

When you’re finished walking around the dam, you can drive over it to some viewpoints on the other side.

Walk or Drive Over the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge

This bridge is the second-highest bridge in the United States and serves all the traffic going from Las Vegas to Arizona.

Incredibly, this bridge wasn’t completed until 2010. Before that, all the traffic drove over the narrow road on top of the dam. It doesn’t seem all that long ago that I had to do this on my way to Arizona!

Today you really can’t see much while driving over the bridge due to the high walls that keep drivers focused on the road instead of the canyon.

So instead, you can park near the bridge and walk over it, providing a straight-on view of the Hoover Dam.

Lake Mead

Not only can you see Lake Mead from the Hoover Dam, but you can also see a larger section of the Lake from the Lake Mead Overlook, accessible just after exiting past the Security Checkpoint for the dam.

If you have time, you can do a boat cruise on Lake Mead. The tour takes you on the lake to the Hoover Dam and back. Dinner cruises are offered as well.

Boulder, Nevada

Near the dam, don’t miss out on visiting the bighorn sheep in Boulder, Nevada. They frequent the park in town.

The Hoover Dam was originally called the Boulder Dam. When workers arrived in the thousands, a company town named Boulder was set up nearby to house the workers.

These workers, mostly young men, often went to Las Vegas on the weekend to spend their money partying. Las Vegas found its identity by catering to these guys. In that way, the Boulder Dam – later renamed the Hoover Dam – essentially built modern Las Vegas.

For some reason, I was kind of hoping this would be a charming town, but it’s actually just an outdated town.

Hoover Dam Museum in Boulder City

The town has a little museum dedicated to the Hoover Dam. The museum is located in the nice Boulder Dam Hotel.

Though it wasn’t fancy, we found this to be a decent alternative if you don’t want to pay to enter the museum located at the Hoover Dam.

Additional Resources


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