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Originally referred to as Boulder Dam, this colossal structure, widely considered one of the greatest engineering achievements in history, was later officially named Hoover Dam in recognition of President Herbert Hoover's role in the project. Look for artist Oskar Hansen's plaza sculptures, which include the 30-foot-tall Winged Figures of the Republic (the statues and terrazzo floor patterns were copied at the new Smith Center for the Performing Arts in Downtown Las Vegas).
The tour itself is a tradition that dates back to 1937, and you can still see the old box office on top of the dam. But now the ticketed tours originate in the modern visitor center, with two options. The cheaper, more popular one is the Powerplant Tour, which starts every 15 minutes. It's a half-hour, guided tour that includes a short film and then a 537-foot elevator ride to two points of interest: the chance to stand on top of one of the 30-foot pipes where you can hear and feel the water rushing through
to the generators, and the more impressive eight-story room housing still-functional power generators. Self-paced exhibits follow the guided portion, with good interactive museum exhibits and a great indoor/outdoor patio view of the dam from the river side. The more extensive Hoover Dam Tour includes everything on the Powerplant Tour but limits the group size to 20 and spends more time inside the dam, including a peek through the air vents. Tours run from 9 to 5 all year, with the last daily tour at 4:15 pm. Visitors for both tours submit to security screening comparable to an airport. January and February are the slowest months, and mornings generally are less busy. The top of the dam is open to pedestrians and vehicles, but you have to remain in your vehicle after sundown. Visitors can still drive over the dam for sightseeing, but cannot continue into Arizona; you have to turn around and come back after the road dead-ends at a scenic lookout (with a snack bar and store) on the Arizona side. The dam's High Scaler Café offers fare such as cold drinks, ice cream, and hamburgers.
U.S. 93, east of Boulder City, Boulder City, Nevada, 89005, USA
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