Can You Still Go Down Inside the Hoover Dam?

Last Updated on March 15, 2023 by Jess

Hoover Dam, named for President Hoover during its construction, is a marvel of engineering.

The story of the dam, which created a much-needed safety net to prevent further flooding in the region, can make your mouth water.

Over the years, the dam has become a popular tourist attraction, both free to the public and available for up-close viewing on paid tours. Learn more about what you need to know before visiting Hoover Dam!

Where is Hoover Dam located?

The Bureau of Reclamation, established in 1902, has built more than 600 dams and reservoirs in the 17 states of the West.

In the 1920s, catastrophic flooding occurred on major rivers. As a result, the Bureau of Reclamation issued a call for bids for the construction of Hoover Dam in 1931.

The first concrete was poured in 1932. The first three generators were put into operation in 1936. Finally, in 1961, the last unit was completed with a capacity of 1,334,800 kilowatts. Hoover Dam helps protect against flooding, provides water for irrigation, and generates hydroelectric power.

It is located in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River on the Nevada-Arizona border. It impounds Lake Mead near Boulder City, Nevada, and provides electricity to residents and businesses in Nevada, Arizona, and California.

The dam is easily accessible from Interstate 11/Highway 93. Parking lots are located on both sides of the dam and can be accessed from the main road via Hoover Dam Access Road.

What makes Hoover Dam so unique?

Hoover Dam is a major tourist attraction. Every year, about seven million people visit the site. The construction of the Hoover Dam was a true engineering marvel. Such a large concrete structure had never been built before.

Thousands of workers battled the summer heat for years between 1931 and 1936, using untried techniques to build the massive dam. Over one hundred people lost their lives in the process.

The sheer size of Hoover Dam also makes it special. At the time of its completion, it was the tallest dam in the world.

According to the National Park Service, its base is as thick as two soccer fields are long. Each spillway, designed to allow floodwaters to pass without damaging the dam itself, can handle the amount of water that flows over Niagara Falls.

The amount of concrete used to build the dam is enough to pave a road from San Francisco to New York City.

Is it still possible to go down into Hoover Dam?

Yes, you can still descend into Hoover Dam. The one-hour dam tour takes guests through the tunnels and passageways.

The other two tours offered do not provide access to the dam, only to the visitor center and power plant (30 minutes).

Does the visit to Hoover Dam cost anything?

You can visit Hoover Dam for free without paying admission. However, a paid ticket is required for any type of tour.

Also, parking can cost $10, depending on which parking lot you park in. If you want to do more than just enjoy the view of the dam from the bridge, you should get a ticket for a tour. Let’s take a look at some of your options.

Self-guided tour of the visitor center

The least expensive of the three sightseeing options is the self-guided tour of the Visitor Center. It costs $10, which you can purchase online before you arrive.

You also have the option to purchase an upgrade on site if you choose to tour the power plant or dam. This tour is wheelchair and stroller accessible.

At the Visitor Center, you can learn about the history of Hoover Dam by touring the annotated exhibits. From the observation deck, you can see the dam, the Colorado River, Lake Mead and the Hoover Bypass Bridge.

This ticket also gives you access to the original exhibit building, where you can learn more about the region’s dams and energy systems.

Please note: Want to avoid crowds on your vacation? These destinations will be overrun by tourists in 2023

Guided power plant tour

The Guided Power Plant Tour, which is wheelchair and stroller accessible, provides the same access to the Visitor Center as the previous tour, but adds a tour of the power plant. This ticket costs $15, which you can also increase on site.

Visitors walk through the original construction tunnels. They also enter the observation deck, which overlooks a 30-foot diameter penstock.

Here you can feel the vibrations created as the water rushes through the pipe. Finally, with this ticket, you can also tour eight commercial generators at the Nevada Powerhouse.

The inside of the powerhouse at Hoover Dam.

Guided dam tour

The guided dam tour is the only one that takes you down into the dam. This ticket costs $30 and can only be purchased on site.

You can upgrade from the self-guided visitor center tour or the guided powerhouse tour upon arrival. This is not stroller accessible.

In addition to the Power Plant and Visitor Center tours, guests who purchase this ticket can also tour the historic tunnels, ride the original elevator to the top of Hoover Dam, walk through the inspection tunnels and view the Colorado River through the inspection ventilation shaft.

Where can I park to visit Hoover Dam?

You have two paid parking options and one free parking option. The parking garage is open from 8am to 5:15pm and costs $10. If you require accessibility, parking is free.

The parking garage cannot accommodate RVs or vehicles larger than 10.5 feet and 23 feet long.

On the Arizona side, you can use parking lot 9, which also costs $10 and is open from 8 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. RVs and other high-profile vehicles must park here. On the Arizona side, you can also use the upper parking lots, which are free.

Please note: Are the national parks in Arizona worth visiting? Click on the link to find out!

Can vehicles cross the Hoover Dam?

The Hoover Dam access road is accessible from both Arizona and Nevada and crosses the dam.

Although most passenger vehicles, including buses and motorcycles, can cross Hoover Dam, be aware of applicable restrictions and regulations before traveling.

Semi-trucks are prohibited, and there are other weight and hazardous materials restrictions. In addition, vehicles pulling RVs may be stopped for inspection.

View of Hoover Dam

A close-up view of the engineering marvel that is Hoover Dam.

Hoover Dam is a real feast for the eyes. Whether you visit it for free or buy a ticket, it’s definitely worth a visit. The technology from 100 years ago is breathtaking.

The massive scale of the structure will leave you speechless. So the next time you’re driving on Interstate 11/Highway 93 through Nevada and Arizona, make a pit stop to see this engineering marvel up close.

Have you ever taken a tour of the inside of Hoover Dam?

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