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How to see Hoover Dam — from the ground, water or sky

Every day of the week, from dawn until dusk, throngs of tourists travel more than 30 miles from the Las Vegas Strip to marvel at what’s been called the country’s most impressive engineering feat — Hoover Dam.

Open to the public since 1936, the dam is the biggest in the country. It tamed the wild Colorado River, making life possible in the arid West. The reservoir attached to it, Lake Mead, is the reason Southern Nevadans can drink and irrigate their lawns, providing more than 90 percent of the region’s water, according to the regional water authority.

Admission to the dam is free. But if you don’t want to be your own tour guide, here are a few options.

Official Reclamation tours range from $15 to $30

The agency that manages water and dams in the West, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, offers tours for as low as $15 a person. If you take this route, you’ll get a close, inside look at the operations.

The $15 option will only get you a tour of the power plant, where you can walk through the original construction tunnels and feel the rush of water through the plant’s pipes. For $30, you get to tour the inner workings of the dam in addition to the power plant, including an elevator ride to the top of the dam.

The power plant tour is available for purchase online, but tickets for the extended tour of the dam are only available to buy on-site. For more information, visit Reclamation’s website.

Set sail on the Desert Princess

Though it won’t show you the dam’s insides, some of the best views of Hoover Dam are by boat.

Aboard the Desert Princess, you’ll get great views of the dam while maintaining some distance. The Hoover Dam Sightseeing Cruise, priced at $42 for adults and $22 for children ages 2 to 11, comes with a full-service snack bar and an on-boat restaurant.

There are other options to ride a boat on Lake Mead, too, at different price points and times of day. To book online and get more details, look at the company’s website.

Brave the skies

Buzzing across the sky is another option for the more adventurous.

Maverick Helicopters offers a look at Hoover Dam during its Grand Canyon Wind Dancer Tour, which takes people from the Strip to Hualapai Indian Territory near the canyon. Champagne and snacks are included, too.

Additionally, Papillon Helicopters offers several tours by air. The company claims to have clearance to fly “closer to the Hoover Dam than any other tour operator.”

These tours can be on the pricier end, running people a couple hundred dollars depending on length.

Raft to see directly below the dam

It’s a longer time commitment and more physically intensive, but a more natural experience might be with a rafting tour.

Depending on which one you choose, the tour led by Hoover Dam Rafting Adventures takes anywhere from four to six hours, including transportation to and from the Strip.

The “Postcard Tour” is shorter and costs $69 for those 16 and older and $49 for children ages 5 to 15. The longer, six-hour experience is $125 for those 16 and older and $110 for children.

Both will take you down the Colorado River and help you learn all you’d ever want to know about Hoover Dam.

Contact Alan at ahalaly@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AlanHalaly on X.

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