Hoover Dam is located about 30 minutes south of Las Vegas, Nevada and it’s a “dam” good family-friendly attraction in a city that is not known for its family attractions. It’s educational too!
Hoover Dam straddles the Nevada-Arizona state line, and it used to be part of the main highway through that area. It is easy to spend an hour or more just walking on and around the dam itself. The state line marker is a popular photo op and it’s fun to get a good look at Lake Mead on one side and then wonder at HUGE drop down the concrete wall on the other. I imagined bungee jumping or sledding down it like James Bond, but got over that quickly.
There is a statuary on the Nevada side where you can get an idea of just how challenging Hoover Dam was to build and how many lives were lost for it. There is a gift shop with lots of the usual items, plus some Area 51 souvenirs, and a snack bar.
We considered taking one of the tours, but skipped it this time. I would like to say that our kids were enthralled by the whole experience, but they were grumpy at first, and we decided to keep our visit short. As often happens, they were enjoying our stop at Hoover Dam by the time we were done.
After you’ve explored the top of the dam, drive back on the Nevada side about a mile to a parking lot near the new Colorado River Bridge. This bridge, which was completed in 2010, spans the gorge in front of Hoover Dam and enables Highway 93 traffic to bypass it. The bridge is an engineering feat on its own and there is an informative foot path up to the bridge and a pedestrian walkway across it. You can get great photos of the bridge from Hoover Dam and of Hoover Dam from the bridge. Standing over that much air was a little unnerving for me, but still pretty neat.
Our family visited Hoover Dam on the last day of the Las Vegas leg of our Spring Break vacation. We set off with sketchy directions and no GPS, but it turns out that Hoover Dam is easy to find. Take U.S. 93 south from Las Vegas and you can drive across the dam in about 30 minutes. There is a security checkpoint, but even on a busy morning, it didn’t take us much time to get through.
That said, I do recommend getting there early if you are visiting Hoover Dam during peak times, like spring break. We visited before lunch and the lines through the checkpoint and into the parking lots visibly increased during our stay. I asked an employee if the crowds were normal and was told that Hoover Dam receives about 1,500 visitors on an average day, but during Spring Break they expect about 4,000 per day.
Good to Know
Where: Hoover Dam is located approximately 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas, on the Nevada-Arizona border. From Las Vegas, take US Highway 93 to Nevada State Route 172.
When: Open year-round except for Thanksgiving Day and Christmas. Parking garage open from 8 am – 5:15 pm. Visitor Center opens at 9 am. First tour at 9:25 am.
How Much: It’s FREE to walk or drive across Hoover Dam and the Colorado River Bridge. However, there is a charge for parking, the visitor center and tours:
- $10 for parking. If you don’t mind walking, FREE parking is available farther up on the Arizona side.
- $10 per person (ages 4 and up) for the visitor center
- $12-15 per person for 30-minute Powerplant tour (includes visitor center)
- $30 per person for 1-hour Hoover Dam tour (includes visitor center)
How Long: 1-2 hours without the visitor center or a tour
Amenities: Free access to restrooms, gift shop and cafe.
Planning a trip to Las Vegas?
We recommend booking your trip through Get Away Today Vacations. Get Away Today specializes in family vacations and they can help you find the best hotels in Las Vegas for families.
You may also like:
- Our Las Vegas for Families Pinterest board – we’ve collected ideas for families from all over the web!
- Our favorite family-friendly activities on the Las Vegas Strip