The massive Hoover Dam is an engineering feat unlike just about anything else found in the United States—and it’s located only a short distance from the heart of Las Vegas. In fact, the Hoover Dam is one of the most accessible day trips from Las Vegas because it is so close to the city center, which means that it’s easy to head over and spend a simple half day exploring before heading back to the Strip for dining, shopping and clubbing.
There are two easy ways to reach the Hoover Dam from Las Vegas: By car or by tour. In both cases, you’ll be on the road. Though there are helicopter tours to the Grand Canyon that stop at the Hoover Dam, a direct tour to the dam and back to Las Vegas can only be done by vehicle.
If you have your own car or your are renting a car in Las Vegas, it’s fairly simple to get out of the city. The Hoover Dam is located about 35 miles from the Strip; expect the trip to take slightly less than an hour. From your hotel, get onto I-15 going south. Take exit 34 and merge onto I-215 going east toward Henderson. In Henderson, merge onto I-515/I-93 going south into Boulder City, and stay on this road until you reach the Hoover Dam.
There used to be a horrendous back up along this road before the Hoover Dam, but the opening of a bypass bridge into Arizona has greatly reduced the traffic problem. To visit the dam itself, follow signs to the parking garage, which is on the Nevada side of the dam. From here, you can walk back and forth across the dam or take a tour of the facility. Because vehicles can no longer get into Arizona from Nevada via the dam, this has become a much more tourist-friendly site. If you want to walk across the bridge, there is a sidewalk on the north side, which leads to a parking lot. You can not stop your car on the bridge for viewing purposes.
If you don’t want to deal with the details yourself, consider taking a tour to the Hoover Dam instead. There are several tour companies in Las Vegas that offer half- and full-day tours to the site. Many of these tours also offer the Hoover Dam as an add-on, or they add on other features and stops to enhance the Hoover Dam visit. Your options for day trip tours from Las Vegas are exhaustive, and it’s common to find discounts or coupons for these activities, which help keep the costs reasonable.
Photo credit: angad84