Visiting Hoover Dam from Las Vegas

Taking an excursion to the famous Hoover Dam from Las Vegas is a popular activity and, in my opinion, totally worth the time. It’s less than an hour’s drive each way. This article is your guide to seamlessly planning a visit to one of America’s greatest engineering feats so that you know how to get there, what to do there, and what you need to know before you go.

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Full view of large concrete Hoover Dame with Lake Mead in foreground and rocky landscape all around.
View of Hoover Dam from the Arizona side. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

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How to get there

Reaching the Hoover Dam from Las Vegas is straightforward, whether you prefer to self-drive or want the convenience of a guided tour. Both options have their pros and cons.

Self-drive

Getting to the Hoover Dam by car is my preferred choice since you can visit on your schedule rather than a tour company’s. It’s about a 40 to 50-minute drive from the Las Vegas Strip, depending on traffic (of course!). It’s a pleasant drive through some lovely landscape.

If you’re using Google Maps to navigate there, simply put in “Hoover Dam” as there’s no street address. The official Hoover Dam website also has some directions and helpful information here.

Self-driving is a great opportunity to use the GuideAlong app as you explore outside Las Vegas. Check out the Grand Canyon West, Hoover Dam, Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas Tours. We love GuideAlong and think it adds SO MUCH to our road trips.

Guided tour from Las Vegas

If you don’t want to deal with rental cars and driving yourself, a guided tour with transportation from Vegas is a great option. Here are a few popular and highly rated tours. All offer free cancellation and the option to “reserve now, pay later.”

  1. 3-Hour Hoover Dam Small Group Mini Tour from Las Vegas: This shorter mini-tour would be a good option for those with less time, but you can upgrade to include a stop at Ugo Rondinone’s Seven Magic Mountains art installation.
  2. Ultimate Hoover Dam Tour from Las Vegas with Lunch: If you have a little more time, this longer tour includes the power plant tour, a stop at the Las Vegas sign for photos, and a restaurant lunch.
  3. Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, and 7 Magic Mountains Small Group Tour: For a full-day excursion, this option includes stops at several iconic locations in the area.

Important note: if what you’re looking for is the official Dam Tour, you’ll likely want to self-drive and get to the dam early. Those tour tickets are NOT available for advance booking. 

Things to know before you go

The dam is open for visitors every day, but the Visitor Center is closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

The dam is less crowded early in the morning and later in the afternoon. Plan on it getting busy on weekends regardless of the time of year.

All vehicles that plan to visit the dam or drive over the dam will have to drive through a security checkpoint. In addition, there is guest security screening at the Visitor Center.

You do not have to pay for a guided tour to drive over the dam and get some great views of the dam and Lake Mead, but I think that the guided tour is worth the time and cost. There is a charge for parking in the garage on the Nevada side or in the main lot on the Arizona side. The upper lots on the Arizona side are free.

View of Lake Mead from the middle of Hoover Dam.
Take the time to walk across the dam for great views like this. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

The Dam Tour cannot be booked ahead online. Those tickets are sold at the Visitor Center on a first-come, first-served basis only. I recommend getting there by the time the Visitor Center opens.

Keep in mind that some tours may be canceled without notice. On the day of our visit, they were not offering the Dam Tour. Hubby was disappointed but we did the Power Plant Tour and thought it was great. The Dam Tour includes the Power Plant Tour.

Hoover Dam does warn those with claustrophobia that the tours include elevators and walking through tunnels. I struggle with small enclosed spaces underground or very narrow tunnels. I had no trouble on the Power Plant Tour at all.

Three people walk through a tunnel with concrete floor and rocky walls.
A tunnel we walked through on the Power Plant Tour. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

Hoover Dam is not a National Park Service site and does not accept Interagency Passes. This means you can’t use your America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands Pass.

Much of your Hoover Dam visit will be outdoors. Make sure to dress appropriately for the weather, and remember that it is in the desert. It is VERY hot in the Las Vegas area in the summer. 

Things to see and do at Hoover Dam

There’s plenty to do at and around Hoover Dam to keep you busy for at least half a day. If you want to explore more of the area, consider visiting Valley of Fire State Park also.

Scenic viewpoints

Don’t miss the scenic viewpoints around the Hoover Dam.

  • On the Arizona side of the dam, there are a few small upper parking lots with viewpoints of the Lake Mead side of the dam.
  • The Mike O’Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge (also known as the bypass bridge) offers a great view of the dam. Parking and the walkway to the bridge are on the Nevada side.
  • The Lakeview Overlook at Lake Mead National Recreation Area is just off of the Hoover Dam Access Road.
View of Lake Mead from a scenic overlook.
View of Lake Mead Overlook. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

Power Plant Tour

The Power Plant Tour will give you a great introduction to how the dam was built and how it works today. The tour includes a film about the dam’s construction, access to the Visitor Center exhibits, the observation deck, and a 30-minute guided tour.

This is the tour we took during our visit since they were not offering the Dam Tour. It was excellent, but we still would have chosen the full tour if we could have.

Very large turbines lined up inside a long room.
Inside the Power Plant Tour. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

Dam Tour

The Dam Tour is a comprehensive exploration of the Hoover Dam. It includes everything in the Power Plant Tour plus a stop inside the dam. 

Visitor Center

With a Visitor Center ticket, you get access to the exhibits and observation deck. There’s also a topographical map representation. Visitor Center access is included in the Dam Tour and Power Plant Tour.

View of a parking deck and observation deck across the Hoover Dam.
View of the Visitor facilities at Hoover Dam. The parking garage is on the left. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

Gift shop

Of course. What would a visit to Hoover Dam be without a stop at the gift shop? Where else would you get a shirt that says “This is my dam shirt”?!? You can also find the usual types of souvenirs like refrigerator magnets, coffee mugs, Christmas tree ornaments, and such.

Upward view of a terra cotta colored stone building. The sign on the facade says Food & Gifts.
A man with white hair and a white beard wearing a T-shirt that says This is my Dam Short. Hoover Dam is in the background.

A visit to Hoover Dam is a great excursion to get you out of Las Vegas. It’s really marvelous to see and well worth half a day away from the Strip. 

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