If water views are an important component of your sightseeing itinerary, Hoover Dam has an abundance of them. One of the world's tallest dams and a feat of modern engineering, Hoover Dam lies in Black Canyon traversing the Colorado River between Arizona and Nevada, and is located around 48km southeast of Las Vegas.
While not your traditional waterfront view, Hoover Dam has been offering tours of the site since 1937. Construction of the concrete-arch dam took five years and 21,000 men to open in 1936. At 221m high, the Art Deco-style Hoover Dam was designed to provide protection against flooding and supply seven states with water and electricity – no mean feat. Entry to the Visitor Center is US$8 and free for tots aged three. Most visitors opt for the 30-minute or one-hour tour to get a sneak peek into the daily running of this massive dam.
The one-hour Hoover Dam Tour (US$30) includes admission to the Visitor Center, Powerplant and Dam Passageways daily from 9:30am to 4pm. The guided tour begins with a short film in the Visitor Center before you take a 70-second elevator ride down 161.5m inside Hoover Dam Powerplant and Black Canyon to the Penstock Viewing Platform, which is above one of the four 9m-diameter pipes that can transport around 340,000 litres of water each second from Lake Mead to the dam's hydroelectric generators. Another elevator trip up to the Nevada Powerplant Balcony offers a 360-degree view of eight of the dam's 17 generators. Travel through the tunnels to see the inspection galleries before exiting back to the Visitor Center to view interactive exhibits, check out the panoramic view of Lake Mead, Hoover Dam and Colorado River from the Observation Deck and see the Winged Figures of the Republic sculpture outside.
The drive from Las Vegas to Hoover Dam takes around 45 minutes. Take the US Highway 93 South for 32km to Boulder City, then continue on US 93 to the Nevada State Route 172 and the dam. Parking is available onsite for US$7, and you'll need to go through security screening when you enter the Visitor Center.