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Visiting the Hoover Dam
A great road trip from Las Vegas
The Hoover Dam is one of the greatest man-made wonders ever. It's a concrete arch dam in the Black Canyon. It blocks water from the Colorado River and the creation of the dam in the 1930's created Lake Mead, which is another family friendly spot to visit if you happen to be in the southwest, especially if you're in Las Vegas and looking for something to do with the kids.
Enough with the fun facts about the dam, because you'll get enough of that when you get there. Let's focus on how to get there from Las Vegas, how much the tour costs, and whether or not Chevy Chase really did cause massive leaks during the filming of that movie (hint: he didn't).
How far and how much?
Hoover Dam is located about a 35 miles from Las Vegas. It's actually far more accessible from Vegas than other southwestern attractions like the Grand Canyon. You can spend a bundle to take a taxi there from Las Vegas, but to drive there yourself, just take I15 south to I215 east. Exit on to highway 93/95 south heading toward Boulder City. When 93/95 splits take 93 and just follow the signs. It's not like there's a lot else out there, so there are plenty of signs.
The full tour of the Hoover Dam costs $30 and children under 8 are not permitted. The tour is not handicap accessible. Some might consider this a violation of various federal laws, but the government also maintains this dam and they'll be damned if they're going to spend a billion so someone can ride their wheelchair around inside the dam. If you are driving there, be aware that they do vehicle inspections on anything driving over the dam, and some vehicles like RV's are always selected for inspection.
There is a less expensive tour of just the power plant. It's under $12. All tours offer discounts for seniors and military personnel.
For those of you who don't want the hassle of driving on your own, there are various tours offered from Las Vegas, including bus tours and also a company called Desert Fox Tours that will take you there in a Hummer.
When you're there, be sure to check out the new bridge just a few thousand feet south of the dam. The Hoover Dam Bypass, or Mike O'Callaghan / Pat Tillman Bridge, offers great views above the river and is an architectural marvel.