The Perfect Hoover Dam Road Trip
Hoover Dam is the most visited dam in the world, attracting around 7 million travelers each year. It provides water to neighboring states and hydroelectric power to more than a million residents. It’s also pretty impressive to look at.
Built in the 1930s to tame a section of the Colorado River, Hoover Dam stands at 726 feet tall and 1,244 feet long. Its power plant – the U-shaped building at the dam’s base – contains 17 massive vertical hydraulic turbine engines and 17 generators. Daily tours take guests through the dam and into the power plant, with a quick history lesson along the way.
While few travelers make Hoover Dam their final destination, it’s is a popular stopover during road trips to Lake Mead or Las Vegas. If you’re looking to visit Sin City or The Grand Canyon, here’s a sample road trip that takes guests across the world’s most popular dam.
Stop #1: The Grand Canyon
One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, Arizona’s Grand Canyon drew around 6 million tourists last year; its highest attendance on record! Grand Canyon National Park is dominated by its central feature: the mile-deep, 277-mile-long canyon carved out by the fierce waters of the Colorado River millions of years ago. Start your Southwest adventure at the popular Grand Canyon South Rim, which includes short, easy hikes like Bright Angel Trail and South Kaibab Trail.
Stop #2: Flagstaff & Route 66
From Grand Canyon National Park, take route 64 down to Hwy 180, which offers a more scenic drive through Northern Arizona’s ponderosa forests than I40 or Hwy 189. This laid-back college town offers plenty of restaurants, craft breweries and hiking opportunities. Explore Humphrey’s Peak or the nearby Lava River Cave carved out by ancient flowing magma, then grab a beer at Mother Road or Flagstaff Brewing Company and spend the night in town. Take Historic Route 66 west towards Hoover Dam to get a taste of vintage kitsch. A few of the quirky roadside motels and diners remain to guide your way.
Stop #3: Hoover Dam
Hoover Dam is an astounding feat of engineering, and even more intriguing when viewed from below. Before taking the official dam tour, book a river rafting trip with Black Canyon River Adventures. Our Black Canyon Raft Tour starts at Hoover’s base, where rafters can look up at the 60-story gravity arch dam and score a quick selfie below the even taller Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge. The waters of the Colorado inside Black Canyon are smooth and calm, making it an easy and scenic 12-mile ride to Willow Beach. The best part? No paddling. BCRA’s rafts are motorized so visitors can focus on what’s important – like taking the perfect Instagram shot!
Stop #4: Lake Mead
You’re practically there already, so why not make a quick detour to Lake Mead? Formed by the plugging of the Colorado at Hoover Dam, Lake Mead is a popular spot for boating, fishing, swimming and nature hikes. Rent a kayak or canoe to explore the lake, or traverse the backcountry lakeshore trails to see a combination of high desert brush and red rocks. For an easy day-hike, take the trailhead just east of the visitor center on Lakeshore Road near Hwy 93. It’s flat and paved, winding through tunnels towards Hoover Dam.
Stop #5: Las Vegas
There’s no shortage of action in Sin City. From casino gambling to nightclubs and circus shows, there’s something to do all hours of the day and night. While it’s a natural spot to end a Southwest road trip, the bright lights and 24-7 madness isn’t everyone’s game. Visitors who want to steer clear of The Strip can head to Valley of Fire State Park. Located on the northern end of Lake Mead National Recreation Area, this 40,000-acre wonderland is filled with gorgeous Aztec red rock that gives it an otherworldly appearance.
Bring your camera on your road trip and you’ll come home with a virtual postcard book of amazing landscape shots – not to mention a ton of great memories. Call 800-455-3490 or book a Hoover Dam raft tour online and get started on a Southwest road trip to remember.