Planning a trip to or through Las Vegas? 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!
We have visited Hoover Dam twice, about five years apart and our experience was similar – and positive – both times. Here's what you can expect from a stop at Hoover Dam.
What to Do
Hoover Dam straddles the Nevada-Arizona state line. The road over the dam used to be part of the main highway through that area, but now it ends on the Arizona side. It is easy to spend an hour or more just walking on and around the dam itself.
The dam is an engineering marvel. Lake Mead and the surrounding mountains are scenic. 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.
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 and cafe.
It costs nothing to visit Hoover Dam. There is a charge to take a tour and see the visitor center. Admission to the visitor center is included with a tour, or can be purchased separately.
We would like to take a tour and see the visitor center, but we haven't yet. On one trip, our kids were younger, and kind of grumpy on the day we visited. On the other, we arrived too late in the day for a tour, but our visit was still well worth the time.
Don't Miss the Bridge
About a mile before you reach Hoover Dam, look for a parking lot near the Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge. This bridge, which was completed in 2010, spans the gorge in front of Hoover Dam. 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. Hang on to your hats! It's quite windy on the bridge.
On our last visit, we spotted several mountain sheep just above the bridge, across the road from the Welcome to Nevada sign.
There is only one small parking lot at the bridge, compared with hundreds of spaces at the dam. To beat the crowds, consider stopping at the bridge first if you arrive in the morning, or last if you arrive in the afternoon.
How to Get There
We drive our own car when we visit Hoover Dam. It's the easiest and least expensive way to get there.
If you don't need a car for any other reason than to visit Hoover Dam, you can book a tour from Las Vegas. Concierges at every hotel in Las Vegas can help you book a tour to Hoover Dam. Or, choose from dozens of tours at Viator.com, starting at around $50 per person. Basic tours typically include
- Hoover Dam Tour
- Visitor Center
- Memorial Bridge
Some tours may also include a helicopter ride, Lake Mead cruise or a combination Grand Canyon trip. Click the button below to see tour options at Viator.com.
Related: Top Ways to Get the Best Price on Your Rental Car
Hoover Dam has a multi-level parking garage on the Nevada side and several parking lots on the Arizona side. The parking garage charges $10 per vehicle and it is the most convenient parking option for the dam. Your car will be shaded from the sun, which will be nice on a hot day. There is no parking charge for those with accessible plates and placards.
Additional parking is available on the Arizona side of the dam. There is a pay lot just on the other side, but if demand is low you may be able to park there for free. That was the case on our most recent visit. Additional free parking is available in several places up the hill. Oversize vehicles are required to park on the Arizona side.
Parking will fill up on busy days, so arrive early or late in the day if you can.
What to Bring
Hoover Dam is located in the desert and temperatures will usually be hotter than 100 degrees (F) in the summer. It was 90 degrees (F) on our last visit in early April.
Bring plenty of drinking water with you, especially if you plan to park in the free parking on the Arizona side. You'll be walking uphill on the way back to your car. The walk across the dam is a half-mile, round trip.
Wear sunscreen and sun hats on the dam. There will be little shade.
I recommend bringing your own snacks and picnic. The cafe at Hoover Dam serves lunch, bottled water and cold treats too.
Where to Stay
Hoover Dam is located about 30 minutes from Las Vegas, just outside Boulder City, Nevada. If your visit to Hoover Dam is part of a Las Vegas vacation, then I would stay in Las Vegas. Tahiti Village Resort is a good option for families in Las Vegas.
If you're just passing through and need a place for the night, then Boulder City or Henderson have a number of hotels to choose from.
Click the red button to check rates and availability for Boulder City hotels on TripAdvisor.com.
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. From Boulder City, follow the signs.
When: Open year-round except for Thanksgiving Day and Christmas. Visit Hoover Dam between 5 AM and 9 PM. Tours and Visitor Center availability is 9 AM to 5 PM.
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.
I’ve seen the dam as I’ve flown into Vegas but never drive. I think it would be a very interesting outing. I love the first photo.
Thanks! That sign is funny, isn’t it? Hoover Dam is an easy half-day excursion from Las Vegas and I enjoyed it even more than I expected to.
Back in 1998, my wife and I took the top-end “Hard Hat Tour” of the dam, and got to keep our plastic “fedoras” as a souvenir. Alas, I think that particular tour was canceled after 9/11.
It did feel like some things had changed since 9/11. I’m sure the security checkpoint is a product of that event. There are still two different dam tours, though probably not the same tour as yours, for visitors who want an inside look.
I’ve always thought that this would be a fun day trip from Vegas! Not sure that I could do the pedestrian walkway though – I get a bit freaked out on the glass floor at the top of the CN Tower in Toronto!
Glass floors in a tower would make me anxious too, but I think that the view from this bridge was worth it. Walking across the dam is not scary, so be sure to make the trip if you get the chance!
Debbie Beardsley @ European Travelista
Hoover is an amazing dam and an engineering feat! Great pictures.
we did this trip from Vegas one day and it was great. I didn’t realize how much of a history lesson we would also get but it was great learning about how the dam came to be.
I agree. We got more from it than we expected, even without taking the tour or seeing the visitor center.
We stopped by there on our way to Vegas once – no tour either though. It’s impressive how huge it is! Your pics show that much better than mine from back then 🙂
Thanks! That new bridge helped us get a shot that wasn’t possible a couple of years ago, because it’s definitely not my photography skills.
Becca@ R We There Yet Mom?
I used to live in Vegas back when there was no security check point to drive over the Hoover Dam – I bet that takes time to get through. There was no problem just pulling over in the TWO parking lots (free) and walking the dam – funny to hear how things have changed!
Make sure to link this up with Friday Daydremin’ too – this is perfect! Thanks!
Will do. Thanks! The checkpoint slowed us down a bit, but we were there early enough that it only took a couple of extra minutes, even on a busy morning. There were some cars pulled over for more extensive checks, but I don’t know if that was random or not.
Tonya @ The Traveling Praters
Hoover Dam is top on our list of places to visit when we make it out West. My teens would really enjoy the tour but I’m not sure that they would have when they were younger. I’d love to walk onto the bridge and snap an amazing photo, but I’m terrified of heights and afraid I’d hyperventilate or pass out right there. 🙁
LOL. Perhaps you could delegate that photo op to one of your kids.
Andi at The Particular Traveler
Awesome photos! I saw Hoover Dam as a kid but haven’t been back since. When my daughter gets a little older I’d love to take her there. I read somewhere that kids under 8 aren’t allowed somewhere there? Maybe it’s just on the tour…
That’s how it was for me too. I don’t recall any restrictions on taking my young kids on a tour, but it could have been the longer tour that we wouldn’t have considered anyway, or the older tour Dick Jordan mentioned. As Tonya mentioned, older kids are probably going to enjoy the tours more than younger children.
This is awesome! I am actually just looking at this because I am doing a project for School on the Hoover Dam, during the Great Depression. I hope to visit here someday! It’s a long trip from Oregon, but I bet it’s worth it!
“Let us find the dam snack bar.” ~Zoe in Titan’s Curse by Rick Ridorian
Hay Tyler! That’s good your are doing research on that dam. I hope you could make a visit there as soon as possible, and yap it would be worthwhile.
Hoover dam is in itself one of most promising and wonderful attractions of Southwest area of United States. I visited there during my las vegas sunset helicopter tour(GetBusTours) along with my bests friend. Throughout that tour we really had seen amazing and worthwhile sky views of that region. After completing our tour we landed on Lake Mead. That is one of most promising attractions of Hoover dam which is known as a creation of that dam. There a visitor could enjoy fishing, boating, swimming and other water activities. I really had unforgettable experiences there. After reading your article my all memories are so fresher now, thanks for that lovely sharing…..
How long of a walk is it from the free parking on AZ side?
It isn’t long. The first lot immediately on the AZ side was a pay lot when we visited. Then the road goes up the hill and there was some free roadside parking. It’s not far – a quarter mile or so and all in view of the dam – if you don’t mind the hill.
How do you get to the free parking on Arizona side? Do you drive 8ver Tillman Bridge or 9ver the dam itself?
Hi James! You drive over the dam itself.
My uncle has been touring the United States as a retirement gift to himself. He isn’t great with the GPS so, it is good to hear that the Hoover Dam is easy to find. He will be so excited to visit.
Does anyone know if there’s free parking at the Hoover dam??
You can find free parking if you get there first and are willing to walk a little. Drive to the Arizona side and keep driving up the hill past the parking lot. There is some free parking along the road above the parking lot.
$10 to park? A slap in the face after paying to get into Lake Mead!
Hi Richard. In my experience, driving in to see Hoover Dam is not the same entry point as getting in to play on Lake Mead. Driving from Las Vegas through Boulder City, we didn’t have to pay to drive to Hoover Dam. And on our first trip, we found free parking on the far side of the dam. Has that changed?
Is first week of August is the best time to go there?
Hi Fatima! I haven’t been there during the first week of August, but I would expect the weather to be very hot during that time. There will still be summer crowds, but Hoover Dam is big enough to handle crowds. I would arrive early in the day to avoid the worst heat and crowds. Consider parking your car in the covered garage rather than the free parking on the other side, where you will need to walk in the heat. Dam tours and the visitor center should be air-conditioned and comfortable – if not a little cold – any time of year.
Hoover Dam is a great place to bring family and friends and simply enjoy an outing. From the looks of it, it’s a very scenic place so taking those instagram friendly photos would be no problem at all. It’s also a lovely place if you just want a change of scenery once in a while. Thank you for the tips and details.
H20, the power of earthlings comes to slots millinial time.Thanks hoover
Thanks for the great information!
wondering if i can go early, i know parking lot open by 8, but is visitor center worth to wait? We ll be heading to south rim and wanted to reach there by noon, so can i just park my car by 8 and roam around and then head to south rim? or i have to wait till 9 to open visitor center to explore ?
Hi Sanjay! I have visited Hoover Dam twice, but haven’t yet been inside the visitor center. There is an admission fee, and when I do it I want to do the tour too.
You can easily spend 1-3 hours walking on the bridge, looking at the outdoor monuments and checking out the bridge. If you’re arriving early, I would start with the bridge, then head over to the dam. By the time you’ve seen the bridge and dam, the visitor center will probably be open and you can decide whether or not to see it and take the tour then.
that helps…. thanks Allison and Happy new year 🙂
In your opinion would someone who is slightly claustrophobic be able to ‘survive’ either of the Dam tours? I don’t enjoy enclosed spaces but I’m able to tolerate a three hour airplane flight.
Hi Michael. I have not taken a Hoover Dam tour in many years. We only explored the top of the dam on recent trips. However, I toured the Glen Canyon Dam in Arizona in 2017, and it matched my memories of the Hoover Dam tour. I think that if you can handle an airplane or elevator ride, you’ll probably be fine on a standard tour of the Hoover Dam. You may spend some time in windowless spaces, but they will be large enough to accommodate a tour group. Some of the spaces that house dam operations are quite large. You’ll probably be able to look out at the grassy area at the base of the dam part of the time.
I will be driving from San Diego to Michigan and really wanted to stop by the dam to show my daughter. The hours you have posted is 9-5. My question is if we arrive after 5 is the whole dam access closed? I mean is there a gate or something or can we park and walk the bridge and stuff or no? I am not interested in the visitors center or tour, just would like to sneak a peek as we go through.
Hi Kathy! I’ve double checked the hours and you can see/drive across the dam between 5 AM and 9 PM every day. The Visitor Center and tours are available from 9 AM to 5 PM, but if you don’t care about those, then it sounds like you’re still good to go early or late in the day.
I’ll make sure that’s updated in my post. Thanks for your question!
We want to do the Dam tour but will only get there 1pm. Should we pre-book the Powerhouse Tour and then r we able to cancel it if we are able to get into the Dam tour that day?
Hi Lisa. According to the official website, Powerplant Tour tickets are non-refundable. If that is not the tour you want, do not purchase them in advance.
If you want the Dam Tour, I would wait until you arrive and inquire about them immediately. If it’s a busy day, you may not get the next tour, but if you’re flexible, I’m hoping that you could get into a tour that afternoon. I haven’t done it, so I can’t say for certain, but 1 PM is still fairly early for a first-come-first-served situation.
Good luck! I’d love to hear how it goes when you return.
Is there a phone number to call the visitors center or the folks who sell the dam tours (not the power plant). Thank you for this information!
Hi Bob. It took a little digging, but I found a number on the official Hoover Dam site under the Bureau of Reclamation. “For information about Hoover Dam tours, contact us during operating hours at:
Telephone: (702) 494-2517”
Hope that helps! Have a great trip!
Thank you so much Allison! This was a totally big help. I could not seem to find the number. You are amazingly kind!
Great job! Do you outline all of your blog posts? I’ve read a few of them now and they are way higher quality than other blogs I’ve read.
Than you, this is all great info. We are in Vegas with our teenage kids (16, 17, 19) for three more days and have decided to rent a car tomorrow to go see the Dam.
Do you have any recommendations for other fun things to do while we have the car for these next couple of days? A good place to eat on the way back from the Dam?
Also, we wanted to see the Grand Canyon – South Rim.. It seems like the place to go (instead of the West rim). Have you been to either?
Do you have a blog for any GRand Canyon experiences?
Hi! I hope that you have a great time at Hoover Dam. I don’t have any favorite local restaurants between Hoover Dam and Las Vegas. You’ll drive right through the cities of Henderson and Boulder City, which might help you narrow your search. Our family also enjoyed the buffet at M, which is on I-15, south of Las Vegas.
Here is a list of activities off the Las Vegas Strip that your family may enjoy with a car. They will not all be great for teens, or winter weather.
Red Rock Canyon
Pinball Hall of Fame
Lion Habitat Ranch
The Neon Museum
National Atomic Testing Museum
Las Vegas Natural History Museum
DISCOVERY Children’s Museum
Lake Las Vegas
Wet n Wild Water Park
Cowabunga Bay Water Park
GameWorks or other arcades
Ethel M Candy Factory Tour – FREE
Seven Magic Mountains public art – FREE
NASCAR and other events at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
University of Nevada-Las Vegas museums, tours, sports and performing arts
Day trip to Death Valley National Park (not in summer)
I have visited the Grand Canyon North Rim, but not the South or West Rims yet. They’re on my wish list! The South Rim is open year round, and has the most amenities of the three. The North Rim is not open at this time of year. Here is my post for the North Rim, and the official Grand Canyon National Park website, which should give you good information about the South Rim in winter.
I hope that your family has a great trip!