The Hoover Dam was named after Herbert C. Hoover, President of the United States from 1929 to 1933. It was built between 1931 and 1935 to secure water supplies for the rapidly growing population in Nevada, Arizona, California, New Mexico and Colorado. US Highway 93 runs over the dam, which is located about 25 miles southeast of Las Vegas. Visitors can learn more about the technical aspects of the monumental structure by booking walking tours over and around the dam.
The Visitor´s Center
The Nevada-Arizona state line runs right through the middle of the dam and separates it into two halves: One lies in Nevada, the other one in Arizona. In winter, when Daylight Savings Time is not observed in Nevada, there is a time difference of one hour between the western edge of the dam, which is located in Nevada and in the Pacific Standard Time Zone, and the eastern edge, which is in Arizona and in the Mountain Standard Time Zone. Perhaps one of the best ways to start vacation activities in the Hoover Dam area is to spend some time at the Visitor´s Center, which is located on the western side of the Dam and run by the United States Department of the Interior. Opening hours are Pacific Standard Time. There is a parking garage right next to the Visitor´s Center. At the Visitor´s Center, tourists can learn a lot about the history of the planning stages and the construction phase of the Dam. River rafting and walking tours are available and need to be booked with agents at the Visitor´s Center.
Power Plant Tours
The Power Plant Walking Tour starts at the Visitor´s Center and is guided by reclamation experts from the U. S. Department of the Interior. It takes about two hours and comprises a stroll through the power plant as well as photo and video presentations. The Dam Tour lasts about a half hour longer than the Power Plant Tour and leads through lesser-known passageways in the dam. The Visitor´s Center offers food and restrooms during opening hours. The walking tours are not recommendable for visitors suffering from claustrophobic anxieties, as they lead through some very confined spaces. Also, visitors with pacemakers or those using a defibrillator are not allowed to participate in the tours, as the dam´s generators emit electromagnetic frequencies.
River Rafting Tours
Tourists may bring their own rafts or paddle boats and use a launch site operated by the Department of the Interior at the bottom of the dam. Launching a watercraft into the Colorado River is subject to a fee. Anyone launching a boat from the launch site needs to obtain a launch permit, which is available from the National Park Service Office at the Visitor´s Center. There are no guided tours on the Colorado River; anyone wishing to use a boat must be self-dependent in terms of navigation and safety.
Walking Tours on the Dam
US 93, the main highway traversing the dam, is bordered by sidewalks on each side of the road so visitors can easily take a self-guided stroll across the dam. One well-liked photo opportunity is the state-line symbol in the middle of the dam, indicating the border between Nevada and Arizona, with Lake Mead in the background. There are considerably more things to see and do on the Nevada side of the dam, where the Visitor´s Center, the restaurant, a book store and a gift shop are located. On the Arizona side, there is free roadside parking off of US 93, mostly in turnouts carved out of the rocky ground. Many visitors find the views of Lake Mead more rewarding from the Arizona side than from the Nevada side.