Standing 726 feet tall, from bedrock to top, and tapering from a thickness of 660 feet at its base to only 45 feet at the top, Hoover Dam (tel. 866/730-9097 or 702/494-2517) is the tallest concrete dam in the Western Hemisphere. Behind this massive dam lie the waters of Lake Mead, the largest artificial lake in the United States. The water level is down so far that you can see a giant “bathtub ring” surrounding the lake, but the dam, built in better and wetter days, is still worth a visit, if only as a monument to our desire to control a drought-inclined nature that always bats last. To learn about the construction of Hoover Dam, stop in at the visitor center beside the dam on U.S. 93; it’s open daily 9am to 6pm in summer, and until 5pm the rest of the year (closed Thanksgiving and Christmas). Admission is $10 for anyone over age 3, and guided tours of the dam cost $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and kids 4 to 16. Tickets, which include visitor center admission, can be purchased online. More extensive $30 tours of the dam are offered; stop in at the visitor center for tickets. The $30, hour-long tour is the only way to get inside the dam itself, a maze of catwalks, throbbing power turbines, and spooky silences. Parking is an additional $10. Including a tour, it takes about 2 hours to visit the dam.
Lake Mead Cruises (tel. 866/292-9191) runs 1.5-hour boat tours to the dam on the Desert Princess paddle-wheeler, leaving from Lake Mead Cruises Landing, off Lakeshore Road on the Nevada side of Hoover Dam. These tours cost $26 for adults and $13 for children 2 to 11. Other options include dinner cruises ($61.50 for adults, $25 for children) and brunch cruises ($45 for adults, $19.50 for kids).
One of the most interesting ways to see remote parts of Lake Mohave is by sea kayak. Desert River Outfitters (tel. 928/763-3033) will rent you a boat and shuttle you and your gear to and from put-ins and take-outs. The trip through Black Canyon ($70 per person with a four-person minimum), starting at the base of Hoover Dam, is the most interesting route. (Note: This trip requires advance planning because a permit is necessary.) You can also paddle past the casinos in Laughlin ($40), through the Topock Gorge ($60), or around Lake Mohave ($40). Black Canyon River Adventures (tel. 800/455-3490) offers daylong raft trips through scenic Black Canyon on big motorized rafts, costing $99 per adult, $89 for kids 4 to 16. If you’re not a paddler, this easy float is a great way to see this remote stretch of river—it’s definitely a highlight of visiting this corner of the state.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.