This amazing construction - it's 726ft/221m high and l , 244ft/379m long - is filled with enough concrete to build a 2-lane highway from San Francisco to New York, and it literally changed the face of America's West. Blocking the Colorado River at the Black Canyon, which spans Nevada and Arizona, the dam put an end to centuries of droughts and floods caused by the mighty Colorado. Work began on the dam in 1931 and the $165m project was completed by 1935. Its offspring, Lake Mead, now produces drinking and irrigation water for the entire Las Vegas Valley, while the electric power plant creates enough energy to sell to Nevada, Arizona and California.
South on Highway 93 just past Boulder City, 30mls/50km south-east of Las Vegas at the Nevada-Arizona border.
Open daily, except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, 9am- 6pm. Tickets sold until 5.15pm
Visitor Center: adults, seniors, juniors $8, under-3s free; Powerplant Tour: adults $ l l, 4 - 1 6 s $9, under-3s free; Hoover Dam Tour $30, not accessible to those on wheelchairs/crutches
This gives you access to the Visitor Center, a 3-level, 110ft/34m diameter circular building, which stands 700ft/213m above the base of the dam. From the indoor and outdoor observation decks are stunning views of the dam, Lake Mead and the waters of the Colorado River re-entering the Black Canyon after passing through the dam's giant turbines. A gallery houses an environmental exhibit, technology exhibit and the story of the settlement of the lower Colorado River area. The rotating theatre is divided into 3 segments and you move between the 3 areas to see different films about the making and history of the dam.
This tour includes presentations by reclamation guides, audio and film presentations, exhibits and other media to give a comprehensive view of the massive dam and its operations. Tours last around 2 hours and tickets can be bought 9am-4.15pm.
Hoover Dam Tour
The longest tour, this is a guided exploration of lesser known parts of the dam. It is offered from 9.30am every half an hour until 3.30pm, on a first come first served basis.
Boulder City/Hoover Dam Museum
At Boulder Dam Hotel, Boulder City, museum 702 294 1988, hotel 702 293 3510, bcmha.org, Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 12- 5pm, admission adults $2, seniors/children $1. Here you'll see a free movie about the building of the dam plus historical memorabilia from the workers. While you're there, take a peek at the renovated home in the museum, which in its time has accommodated movie star James Cagney and reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes.
While you're in the area you can also take a river raft trip. An excellent stop-off point during your day trip is Harry's Cafe (512 Nevada Hwy, 702 293 1950, open 7am-8pm). Boulder's oldest diner, its 1950s-style environment makes for a fun pit stop.