Dam, Lake & River Tours
Standing 726 feet tall, from bedrock to the roadway atop it, 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; www.usbr.gov/lc/hooverdam) is the tallest concrete dam in the Western Hemisphere. Behind this massive dam lie the waters of Lake Mead, which at 110 miles long and with a shoreline of more than 550 miles is the largest artificial lake in the United States. To learn about the construction of Hoover Dam, stop in at the visitor center, which is beside the dam on U.S. 94 and is open daily from 9am to 6pm in summer and until 5pm in other months (closed Thanksgiving and Christmas). Admission is $8 for anyone over age 3, and guided tours of the dam cost $11 for adults, $9 for seniors and children 4 to 16. Tickets, which include visitor center admission, can be purchased online. More extensive tours of the dam cost $30, and are offered only on a nonreservation basis. Parking is an additional $7. Including a tour, it takes about 2 hours to visit the dam.
If you'd like to tour the lake, call Lake Mead Cruises (tel. 702/293-6180; www.lakemeadcruises.com) to book passage on the Desert Princess paddle-wheeler. These cruises leave from Lake Mead Cruises Landing, off Lakeshore Road on the Nevada side of Hoover Dam. Day tours, which go to the dam, last 1 1/2 hours and cost $24 for adults and $12 for children 2 to 11. Other options include dinner cruises ($49 for adults, $25 for children) and brunch cruises ($39 for adults, $18 for children).
One of the most interesting ways to see remote parts of Lake Mohave is by sea kayak. Desert River Outfitters (tel. 888/529-2533; www.desertriveroutfitters.com) will rent you a boat and shuttle you and your gear to and from put-ins and take-outs. The trip through Black Canyon ($60 per person with a four-person minimum) starts at the base of Hoover Dam and 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 ($35), through the Topock Gorge ($50), or around Lake Mohave ($35). Raft trips through Black Canyon are offered by Black Canyon River Adventures (tel. 800/455-3490; www.blackcanyonadventures.com). The 1-day rafting trips, on big motorized rafts, are an easy float through a scenic canyon and cost $86 for adults, $83 for children ages 13 to 15, and $54 for children ages 5 to 12. If you're not a paddler, this is a great way to see this remote stretch of river -- it's definitely a highlight of a visit to this corner of the state.