Hoover Dam, located just 30 miles from Las Vegas, Nevada, recently marked 75 years of water control and hydroelectric power production on the Colorado River. Spectacular new views of this Depression-era engineering wonder are now available from the nearly 900-foot-high O’Callaghan-Tillman Memorial Bridge, which allows vehicles to cross Black Canyon about 1,500 feet downriver from the dam.
The dam was originally called “Boulder Dam” even though the dam site had been shifted from Boulder Canyon to Black Canyon. By the time construction began, the name had been unofficially changed to Hoover Dam after President Herbert Hoover. When Hoover became unpopular during the early years of the Great Depression, many people again referred to the dam as Boulder Dam. In 1947, a bill that permanently named the structure Hoover Dam passed both houses of Congress.
A variety of guided tours make it possible to go inside the dam and its power plant. Exhibits explain not only the building of the massive structure, but what life was like during the Depression and the development of the American West. You’ll get a closer look at the surprisingly elegant Art Deco style of the dam’s exterior. Inside the dam, the finishing materials, colors and patterns were designed to incorporate some of the traditional motifs of the region’s Navajo and Pueblo tribes.
Hoover Dam is a terrific diversion from the glitz and glitter of nearby Las Vegas. If you have time for a day trip, you should also stop at Lake Mead, a beautiful reservoir that’s open for swimming, boating, water skiing, fishing and other outdoor pursuits.
If you don’t want to drive the 30 miles from Las Vegas to Hoover Dam and back, you can reserve a space on a helicopter tour that will take you to the dam. Some operators offer sunset tours that provide an aerial view of the glittering lights of Las Vegas on your return flight.
For more ideas about things to do in and around Las Vegas, talk with your travel professional.