Vegas: Exploring Hoover Dam. Photo credit: rarvesen
Located just a short 40 minutes from the hustle and bustle of the Vegas strip, a trip to the Hoover Dam affords a unique insight into the history and functionality of water to the area.  Millions drive across the dam each year, and nearly a million take official tours offered from the Bureau of Reclamation. 
 
Dam tours are offered daily and typically sell out a few hours before the last tour begins.  Two tours are offered: The Powerplant Tour (approximately 30 minutes in length), and the Dam Tour (approximately one hour).  The Powerplant Tour is offered by reclamation guides and focuses on exhibiting the comprehensive operations of the dam.  You will learn about the Penstock 30-foot-diameter pipes that transport 90,000 gallons of water per second through the dam's generators. Check out eight of the 17 generators at the Nevada powerplant balcony spanning 650-feet.  You can even check out rarely seen inspection tunnels and air vents opening to the dam.  The Dam tour includes access to parts of the Powerplant as well as taking you all the way down into depths of the dam itself!  
 
Access to the Visitor Center is included with all tours.  Maps, photos, hands on exhibits (like a walk through generator model), and the Visitor Center Theater help you get acquainted with the history and purpose of the dam.  Interactive exhibits have you test whether or not you have the skills to manage power generation or conserve energy. At the Observation Deck level you can snap some great pictures of Lake Mead, Hoover Dam and the Colorado River.  
  
Tips: 
Visitors are recommended to allow at least two hours for their visit.
Parking at the dam is available until 6:15pm for a $7 fee.
The Dam Tour is not accessible to those in wheelchairs or strollers.
Concessions are available near the parking garage; food (including gum) is not allowed on tour.
Tours start at $11 for adults and $9 for kids 4-16.
 
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Photo credit: rarvesen

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