Visiting The Hoover Dam From Las Vegas


Views of the back side of the Hoover Dam and intake towers during a Las Vegas to Hoover Dam day trip

The Hoover Dam is a 726-foot tall concrete arch gravity dam that tames the mighty Colorado River on the Arizona-Nevada border. And it’s only 37 miles from the Strip, so you should seriously consider taking a day trip to the Hoover Dam when you’re visiting Las Vegas. We did exactly that, and it was just as impressive as we’d expected.

In this guide we show you exactly how to visit the Hoover Dam from Las Vegas, based entirely on our experiences.

Our Experience

Man stood with Hoover Dam emblem and sign on a day trip from Las Vegas Nevada
Here’s Mark with the Hoover Dam sign on a sunny day in November

We took a day trip from Las Vegas to the Hoover Dam in late November 2021. It was our fourth day in Vegas and we needed a break from the Strip, so we visited Seven Magic Mountains and then drove over to see the dam. It was an easy drive, parking wasn’t an issue and the sheer magnitude of the dam was awesome.

We had a nice sunny day, but it was during covid restrictions, so there weren’t any official tours running which was a shame. Nevertheless, we enjoyed it and we highly recommend it if you’re looking to escape the Strip for a few hours. Read more about us.

Driving From Las Vegas To Hoover Dam

Letters and numbers with years of construction and symbol on a concrete wall
Sign showing the years of construction

There’s two main routes you can use to reach the Hoover Dam from the Las Vegas Strip:

  • I-215 and I-11
  • I-515 and I-11

Both routes are approximately 37 miles and should take around 50 minutes if there’s not too much traffic on the roads.

Our advice is to set Hoover Dam Visitor Center as your maps app destination when you’re ready to leave your Las Vegas hotel (or click here to open the visitor center directly on Google Maps and hit directions). That way you’ll get the quickest live route based on current traffic conditions.

Hoover Dam Parking

Parking lot on multiple levels and sunshine pouring inside
We parked in the paid multi-story parking lot on the Nevada side of the dam

You can park in the following places to access the Hoover Dam:

  • Paid multi-story lot on the Nevada side
  • Paid lot near the dam on the Arizona side
  • Free parking up the hill on the Arizona side

You’ll arrive on the Nevada side, so the paid multi-story lot will be the first place you can park. It’s also where official tours can be booked, and both the visitor center and cafe are located. We parked here because the bridge was packed full of tourists and we wanted to make life easy!

If you drive across the Hoover Dam into Arizona, you’ll first arrive at a paid lot (free with disabled badge) which is closer to the dam. But you can also continue driving up and around long winding roads to find a space in one of many free parking areas. Once parked, you can walk down to the dam on footpaths.

Memorial Bridge Parking

Parking lot for walking across Mike O'Callaghan - Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge
This is the parking lot you’ll use to access the Memorial Bridge

Later in the day once you leave the dam, don’t forget to stop on your way out to walk across the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge for a fantastic elevated perspective overlooking the massive concrete structure.

You’ll park at a lot called Boulder Dam Bridge Parking on Google Maps (here’s the location). It’s located next to a series of switchbacks you’ll walk up to access the bridge. It has lots of spaces and you can even use vault toilets.

This lot was much quieter when we visited, but if it’s full, you can use a nearby overflow parking lot with a short footpath to the main lot and switchbacks.

Entry Fees

Woman going down to a visitor center to look at tour options
Kristen walking down to the visitor center

It costs nothing to visit the Hoover Dam, but you will pay to park in the two closer parking lots to the dam. There are also charges for any tours you wish to take, which includes the following:

  • Guided dam tour
  • Guided power plant tour
  • Self-guided visitor center tour

IMPORTANT: Guided tours of the dam can only be purchased on site when you arrive. But you can pre-book tickets for the power plant and visitor center tours through these links:

So you can actually visit the Hoover Dam for free if you park up the hill on the Arizona side and you don’t take any tours. And there’s plenty of information boards you can use to learn about the area when you walk across the dam and Memorial Bridge, so tours aren’t essential.

Unfortunately, there were no tours running when we visited because of covid, so we definitely feel like we didn’t get the full experience.

Opening Hours

Woman reading information boards at a memorial bridge in nevada
Kristen reading the information boards near Memorial Bridge

The Hoover Dam is open daily from 5:00am to 9:00pm (PST) year round. But the visitor center and tour options are only open and available from 9:00am to 5:00pm every day (closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas) so you should factor that in before arriving.

We arrived around 10:30am because we’d already been to Seven Magic Mountains earlier in the morning, and it was already busy.

Our advice is to arrive before 9:00am if you want to avoid the worst of the crowds. You could explore the area, read the information boards and take photos of the dam, then arrive at the visitor center right as it opens. An hour later you’re on your way to the Memorial Bridge before the morning rush arrives!

Note: Check the current notice board of updates for the dam before you visit to see changes to times as a result of any maintenance work.

Things To Do At The Hoover Dam

Woman crossing concrete structure into Arizona
Kristen stopping to admire the view from half way across

So what can you actually do at the Hoover Dam? Well, we think there’s maybe one or two more things to do than you might have imagined.

Here’s what we recommend:

  • Walk over the dam and read the educational boards
  • Cross the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge
  • Take a guided kayak tour or rafting tour at the base of the dam
  • Bring your camera for sunrise or sunset photography
  • Explore nearby Lake Mead
  • Take a guided tour of the dam
  • Book a tour of the power plant
  • Hike the Historic Railroad Trail to the Hoover Dam Boneyard
  • Spot Bighorn Sheep around Lake Mead and the base of the dam

You could quite easily spend 6 hours at the dam, or you could spend just 1 hour. It depends on how much you want to see and do. We spent around 3 hours at the dam in total, but if the tours were running we’d have stayed longer.

What You Can Expect

Diversion tunnels for emergency at the Hoover Dam near Las Vegas Nevada
One of the original diversion tunnels for high water levels

CROWDS: The Hoover Dam is a popular tourist attraction near Las Vegas so you should expect it to be busy. Peak crowds are usually around 10:00am-3:00pm, especially on weekends and holidays. Avoid the crowds by visiting between 6:00am-8:00am or 5:00pm-7:00pm.

ACCESSIBILITY: Both the Hoover Dam and Memorial Bridge are completely accessible for wheelchairs and strollers, and pedestrian walkways are paved and smooth. But the Hoover Dam Tour is not accessible for wheelchairs.

THE DAM: We thought walking across the Hoover Dam was a pretty awesome experience. It’s a legendary work of engineering ingenuity, and you can only appreciate the magnitude of the project once you’re standing on top looking down at both sides. Our only issue with the dam was overcrowding because it’s just 45-feet wide, but it was our own fault for visiting later in the morning.

MEMORIAL BRIDGE: Walking across the Memorial Bridge was an unexpectedly scary part of our day because cars on the bridge get a little too close for comfort. But the Hoover Dam view is superb and well worth it, despite the enormous bridge shaped shadow you’ll see cast across the dam! And if you’re afraid of heights, you might want to reconsider visiting the bridge because it’s a long drop.

Our Hoover Dam Photos

The Hoover Dam wasn’t as photogenic as we’d imagined, simply because of the endless electricity pylons scattered throughout the canyon. We thought the best view of the dam was from the Arizona side looking back at its four water intake towers.

Here’s some more photos we took at the dam:

Intake towers and Hoover Dam with water below popular photo to take on a day trip from Las Vegas
Short bridge leading to an intake tower
View looking down into Colorado River from the top of Hoover Dam
Looking down at the power plant from the top
Colorado River and Lake Mead in Black Canyon Nevada
View of the Colorado River and Lake Mead
Memorial Bridge with loads of electricity pylons built into canyon walls in Nevada
Electricity pylons built into walls of the Black Canyon

Booking A Tour From Vegas

What if you don’t have a car during your visit to Las Vegas but you still want to see the Hoover Dam? Well, you’re in luck because it’s one of the most popular tour options from Las Vegas, so you’ll have plenty of choice.

Here are some of the highest rated tours we can find:

  • Hoover Dam only – The top rated tour, includes lunch and power plant tour entry.
  • Small group tour – Includes Seven Magic Mountains and Hoover Dam.
  • Comedy tour – Includes professional comedian guide, dam tour, lunch and comedy club tickets.

We’ve done plenty of tours around the world and they usually work out being great. If you have a car, there’s no need to take a tour of the Hoover Dam, but we think the tour prices are well worth it if you don’t have access to a vehicle.

Fun Facts

Hoover Dam curving around in a slight crescent shape with sunlight turning the walls yellow on a day trip from Las Vegas Nevada
Curving concrete walls washed in yellow sunlight

The last thing we’ll cover is some interesting facts about the Hoover Dam:

  • It was named after President Herbert Hoover (Hoover archives)
  • It’s the most visited dam in the world
  • The dam is as tall as a 60 story building
  • The base of the dam is as thick as two football fields are long (NPS)
  • A road could be paved from NYC to San Francisco with the amount of concrete used
  • It was the highest dam in the world upon its completion in 1935
  • Water has never gone over the top
  • Two spillways positioned 27 feet below the top of the dam have only been used twice, once during a test in 1941 and once during a flood in 1983

The Morgan Conclusion

We think the Hoover Dam is definitely worth seeing on a short day trip from Las Vegas. It’s one of the finest engineering accomplishments in US history and it’s less than one hour away from the Strip, so it’s a popular attraction but you can avoid the crowds by arriving early morning or late afternoon.

Walking across the dam and seeing it from the Memorial Bridge are free, but you really should book a dam tour or power plant tour for a deeper look at the structure and how it operates as a hydroelectric power plant today.

More From Las Vegas

Want more Nevada content? Head over to our Nevada Travel Guides to explore State Parks, beautiful landscapes and the best things to do in Las Vegas.

We hope this guide on how to visit the Hoover Dam from Las Vegas helps with planning your visit to Nevada!

Please let us know if you have any questions in the comments below.

Happy Travels,

Mark and Kristen

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