Is It Free to Visit the Hoover Dam? (What You Need to Know) | Feeling Vegas (2023)

One of the more interesting things to do while visiting Las Vegas is to go see Hoover Dam. I head over to the dam several times a year because it’s close by and it’s just so cool! Also, it doesn’t hurt that it’s a free to inexpensive outing depending on what I choose to do while I’m there.

Is it free to visit the Hoover Dam?

Yes, it is free to visit the Hoover Dam. You can drive or walk across the Hoover Dam and the Mike O’Callaghan – Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge (the bypass bridge across the Colorado River) for free; however, some things, like parking and tours inside the dam, can cost extra but are entirely optional.

Things that do cost are:

  • Parking – $10.00 (I’ll tell you where to park for free further below)
  • Visitor Center – $10.00 per person
  • Power Plant Tour – $15.00 per person
  • Guided Dam Tour – $30.00 per person.

If you’re heading to Las Vegas, then the Hoover Dam is a must-see attraction. Below I’ll tell you all about it, how to visit the dam for free, why it’s worth taking a Power Plant tour and show you some pictures of the sights you’ll be seeing.

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Table of Contents

  • 1 What Makes the Hoover Dam a Must-See Las Vegas Attraction?
  • 2 How to Visit the Hoover Dam for Free
  • 3 What Do You See on the Dam Tour VersusPower Plant Tour
  • 4 Hoover Dam Directions
  • 5 What Other Things Can You Do Around theHoover Dam
  • 6 Hoover Dam FAQs
  • 7 Is there an entrance fee to Hoover Dam?
  • 8 Is Hoover Dam worth seeing?
  • 9 Can I see the Hoover Dam without a tour?
  • 10 What is the best time to visit Hoover Dam?
  • 11 How long do you spend at Hoover Dam?
  • 12 Is It Free to Visit the Hoover Dam – Final Thoughts

What Makes the Hoover Dam a Must-See Las Vegas Attraction?

Hoover Dam is an impressive, 726-foot tall feat of engineering that draws visitors from all over the world. The dam is an arch-gravity dam, which means that the dam curves upstream towards the water source, which distributes the pressure of the water outwards to the canyon walls. The structure is built in a way that uses the natural structures in the surrounding canyon to compress the dam and help increase pressure. (source)

The Hoover Dam was constructed during the Great Depression and took five-years to build. It was constructed by thousands of workers and ended up costing over one hundred of the construction workers their lives.

Hoover Dam is a hydroelectric dam (powered by the Colorado River) and produces a total output of over 4 terawatt-hours a year. That is over four trillion watts per hour!

The dam spans the Colorado River, creating Lake Mead above the dam, which is one of the largest reservoirs in the country. Numerous species of wildlife inhabit the surrounding areas, including big horned sheep, golden eagles, and many other species native to the area. The views around the area are breathtaking and well worth the trip.

How to Visit the Hoover Dam for Free

One of the nice things about planning a trip to Hoover Dam is it is a great family-friendly activity to do while visiting Las Vegas. You can even visit it for free if you’re willing to make a couple of concessions.

(Video) Day Trip - HOOVER DAM - What You Need To Know Before You Go

While the parking garage that is closest to the visitor center does have a cost, there is a free public parking lot or two across the dam on the Arizona side, though these may require a longer walk to the dam itself. These are also the only parking areas at the dam that can accommodate an RV.

To visit the dam for free you’ll need to:

  • park on the Arizona side and walk back to the Visitor Center area
  • be satisfied with seeing the outside of the dam only
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The Dam spans the Colorado River which is the border between Nevada and Arizona. There are powerhouses and spillways on each respective side of the river. As mentioned earlier, you can walk and drive across the Hoover Dam for free. You can also walk the areas around the spillways and the powerplant on the exterior of the dam where permitted.

On the drive up to Hoover Dam (google maps), there is a wonderful stop at the Hoover Dam bypass bridge, officially named the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge (google maps). This bridge is an equally interesting feat of engineering and offers some of the absolute best views of the Hoover Dam, the Colorado River, and the surrounding area (a great photo op).

The bridge spans Black Canyon, which was carved by the Colorado River down below. One thing to keep in mind while visiting the largest, arch-bridge in North America is that it can be windy atop the bridge. Also, I must admit that being on this bridge scares me half to death. It’s really, really high above the canyon and I’ve got a thing about heights. My husband Bryan goes out on the memorial bridge all the time and loves it. To each their own I guess:) It’s perfectly safe but be prepared for how high it is.

After a stop at the bridge, hop back in the car and drive another mile or so to the dam. An important thing to keep in mind when visiting Hoover Dam is that you will be walking the length of the dam, which is about half a mile across and back.

With the dam being in the desert, it’s essential to pack plenty of water, snacks, a hat, and sunglasses (these are the highest-rated sunglasses I’ve ever seen on amazon. I love mine!) if you’re planning on spending any time here.

This is especially true in the summer months when it feels like an oven out there. The nice thing is with a little preparation and willingness to walk just a bit more; it is possible to visit the Hoover Dam for free.

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From the top of the Dam, you will be able to enjoy breathtaking views on either side of the Dam, as well as view the state line that divides Nevada and Arizona. The state line is one of the most popular photo ops and you’ll find it and a nice plaque along the sidewalk in the middle of the Dam.

(If you want to save money on Las Vegas attractions, you may want to consider picking up the Las Vegas Sightseeing Pass. One price for a bunch of attractions in Vegas. See our full review of the sightseeing pass on our website here)

If you’d rather keep things simple, you can take a Hoover Dam Tour from Las Vegas. For one price, a shuttle tour will include transportation, a tour guide, interior and exterior tours of the dam, and access to the visitor center. All the best parts of visiting the dam without worrying about directions, parking, etc.

(Video) Visting the HOOVER DAM Tips - Directions, Free Parking & Amazing Views

What Do You See on the Dam Tour VersusPower Plant Tour

If you aren’t as concerned with visiting the Hoover Dam on a tight budget, two tours are available that will take you inside the giant structure. Both of these tours will allow you access to the Visitor Center and the Power Plant but the Guided Hoover Dam Tour is longer and more in-depth. Both tours offer an inside look at the tunnels and internal workings of the dam.

Many visitors who want to be sure that they can see the Power Plant (this is definitely the highlight of an inside tour) will opt for the Power Plant Tour, for the sole reason that they can purchase their tickets online in advance from the Hoover Dam website.

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The Guided Dam tour is available with tickets purchased on-site only and are sold on a first-come, first-serve basis. Tour schedules do fill up when it’s busy so purchasing the Power Plant tickets online ensures that you will be able to get inside the dam.

One thing to keep in mind when deciding between the two tours is that there are age restrictions for the full Guided Dam Tour. Children must be over 8 years old to participate in the Guided Dam Tour, but younger children can go on the Power Plant Tour instead or visit the Visitor’s Center.

The Guided Dam tour will help you view the tunnels and original elevator that are part of the Dam, as well as get views of the Colorado River from the internal inspections shafts. One of the best values of the Guided Dam tour is that it also includes the Power Plant Tour as well. The Power Plant Tours allow visitors to view eight of the huge turbines that create hydroelectric power from the water rushing through the dam.

The self-guided tour of the Visitor Center is included with both tours or is available for purchase separately. We’ve all probably seen Visitor Centers at National Parks and generally speaking, I wouldn’t pay $10 to get into a Visitor Center/Gift Shop so what’s the big deal with this center?

(Video) All you need to know before you visit Hoover Dam, tour guide, details from Las Vegas to Hoover Dam

After looking through the Visitor Center and gift shop head out to the Observation Deck where you’ll get an amazing, 360-degree view of the Dam. The deck juts out a bit over the canyon edge giving you an incredible view of the dam, the Colorado River, and the surrounding canyon walls.

To find out everything you’ll want to know about visiting Hoover Dam in your own car as well as options for guided tours to the dam from Las Vegas you’ll want to check out our Complete Hoover Dam Guide on our website here.

Hoover Dam Directions

It is approximately 39 miles to Hoover Dam from the Las Vegas Strip. To get to Hoover Dam from the Strip:

  • Take Interstate 15 (I-15) southbound.
  • Exit onto Interstate 215 (I-215) heading east.
  • Take Interstate 11 (I-11).
  • Take exit 2 (NV-172) and follow it to the dam.

Click here on your phone for turn-by-turn directions to Hoover Dam.

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What Other Things Can You Do Around theHoover Dam

While Hoover Dam can be visited from the Las Vegas Strip in just 2-3 hours, I suggest making a day trip out of it and seeing some of the other sites on the way to and from the Dam. The area around Boulder City and Lake Mead has a wide variety of activities you can add to your day as well.

Several companies offer a Helicopter tour of the Hoover Dam and Lake Mead. You can often find these activities included along with tours of the dam from Vegas. There are also several boat tours around Lake Mead as well that will help give you a different perspective of the area. See our article here for more info about all the things to do around Hoover Dam.

Hoover Dam FAQs

Is there an entrance fee to Hoover Dam?

Hoover Dam does not have an entrance fee for visiting the dam. You can park on the Arizona side of the dam for free and walk across the dam from there. There are, however, costs associated if you want to park in the dams parking structure, enter the visitor center, or take a tour inside the dam.

Is Hoover Dam worth seeing?

Visiting Hoover Dam from nearby Las Vegas is a very worthwhile trip. The structure is truly a sight to behold and is still considered one of the world’s engineering marvels. Hoover Dam is a 45-minute drive from the Las Vegas Strip, so you can visit the dam in as little as 2 to 3 hours and be living it up back on the Strip before you know it.

(Video) Hoover Dam & Tour Review - EVERYTHING You Need To Know | Nevada Travel Vlog

Can I see the Hoover Dam without a tour?

Yes, you can see the outside areas of Hoover Dam without taking a tour. You are free to walk back and forth across the dam as many times as you’d like. However, you may want to select an optional tour that will take you inside the inner workings of the dam.

What is the best time to visit Hoover Dam?

The best time to visit Hoover Dam is generally in the mornings as it is less busy and cooler than in the afternoons. If you’re not a morning person, plan on visiting after 3 pm as the crowds tend to diminish in the late afternoon.

How long do you spend at Hoover Dam?

You can spend as little as one hour at Hoover Dam to get the overall gist of what the dam has to offer. Expect to spend closer to two hours if you’d like to stop and read most of the information available.

If you opt for an optional tour of the dam they will add extra time. There are two choices:

  • Guided PowerPlant Tour: takes approximately 30 minutes.
  • Guided Dam Tour: takes around 1-hour to complete.

Most people spend between 2-3 hours at Hoover Dam on average.

Is It Free to Visit the Hoover Dam – Final Thoughts

The Hoover Dam is one of the seven engineering wonders of the modern world, and the views and experiences are well worth the short trip from Las Vegas. Since so many things in Las Vegas can be expensive, it’s nice to be able to take a free or inexpensive trip to visit the Hoover Dam.

Since the dam is on the way to the south rim and west rim of Grand Canyon from Las Vegas, it can be a great addition to the drive out to see the canyon. There are several companies in the area that offer combination packages for tours of both like this one.

Whether you experience Hoover Dam on a short day trip or as part of a longer tour, it is well worth a visit and will give you terrific memories that will last a lifetime.


Can you see the Hoover Dam for free? ›

It costs nothing to visit Hoover Dam. There is a charge to take a tour and see the visitor center. Admission to the visitor center is included with a tour, or can be purchased separately.

How much does it cost to go to the Hoover Dam from Las Vegas? ›

From Las Vegas to Hoover Dam by Rideshare or Taxi

The cost from the Las Vegas Strip area to the Hoover Dam visitor center is about $60. As a comparison, a taxi will cost at least $100. Those prices are per car each way, not per person. The drive from Las Vegas takes about 45 minutes.

Can you just show up to Hoover Dam? ›

Visiting Hoover Dam. Hoover Dam: Open to the public daily from 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. (PST). Hoover Dam Visitor Center and Tours: Open daily 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day).

How much does it cost to tour the Hoover Dam? ›

Cost: Dam Tour fee: $30 per person. Dam Tour tickets must be purchased in person and are on a first-come first-served basis. Restrictions: No children under the age of 8 and the tour is not accessible to those in wheelchairs or on crutches.

Is Hoover Dam guided tour worth it? ›

This is a great tour, you have the choice of two tours. Depending on the time and amount of interest you have in the dam. It is a great tour with interesting history. Plan on going early in the day to avoid long waits (remember you have to go thru security).

Is it worth it to go to Hoover Dam? ›

Visiting the Hoover Dam is one of the best things to do outside Las Vegas since it's less than an hour from the Strip. Not only that, but it's a historical landmark nestled within a beautiful natural environment. No matter your age or interests, you're sure to enjoy a trip to this monumental structure.

How long is the Hoover Dam Tour from Las Vegas? ›

You will journey down into the dam, where you will receive a 30-minute guided tour to a viewing platform overlooking a 30-foot diameter penstock pipe and the Nevada wing of the Powerplant, admission to Visitor Center exhibits and observation deck, and the 1940s era Original Exhibit Building topographical map ...

How long does it take to tour Hoover Dam? ›

It is self-guided and takes about 2 hours if you really stop to look at and read everything (less if you're a skimmer). The more extensive Hoover Dam Tour includes the self-guided portion but adds an hour-long guided tour into the deeper recesses of the facility.

How long do you need at the Hoover Dam? ›

It's really up to you how much time you want to spend at Hoover Dam. We spent two hours which included the walk from and back to our car and walking around. You can spend as little as an hour at Hoover Dam and still be able to feel like you were there.

What is the best time of day to visit the Hoover Dam? ›

The least crowded time of day for tours is 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. Remember that you are in the desert.

How far is the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam from Las Vegas? ›

The Hoover Dam is on the way to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas. The world-famous gravity-arch dam straddles the Nevada-Arizona border. It is located approximately 40 miles from the heart of Las Vegas, 95 miles from the Grand Canyon West, and 240 miles from Grand Canyon National Park.

Is Lake Mead worth visiting? ›

Lakes Mead and Mohave offer some of the country's best sport fishing. Boating and water skiing are favorite activities on the broad expanses of open water, along with kayaking and canoeing. There are shaded picnic areas with tables, water, fire grills and restrooms are located throughout the area.

How much is parking at the Hoover Dam? ›

Parking at the Dam

A parking garage is located on the Nevada side of the dam near the Visitor Center; fee $10 per vehicle. Oversized vehicles, recreational vehicles, and vehicles with trailers must park on the Arizona side of the dam, Lot #9 (fee $10 per vehicle), #13, and #14 (no charge).

How far is Ring of Fire from Las Vegas? ›

Getting Here. The Valley of Fire is located 50 miles northeast of Las Vegas. It takes roughly one hour to drive here. Most of the drive is on Interstate 15, a wide highway.

What is sitting on top of Hoover Dam? ›

Hoover Dam Powerplant: Located 530 feet below Black Canyon's surface, this power plant is where you'll find the dam's 17 generators, plus a tunnel drilled in the 1930s and a platform that sits on top of a 30-foot-wide water pipe.

Can I drive across Hoover Dam? ›

The dam is not open to through-traffic.

The roadway on the Arizona side of the site has been closed. Vehicles can still cross the dam to visit the Arizona viewpoints and concessions, but all are required to turn around and re-enter Nevada to access Highway 93.

What's special about Hoover Dam? ›

It was the highest dam in the world when it was completed in 1935. Its base is as thick as two football fields are long. Each spillway, designed to let floodwaters pass without harming the dam itself, can handle the volume of water that flows over Niagara Falls.

Can you see the Hoover Dam at night? ›

Hoover Dam is lit brilliantly at night. I guess they don't have to worry about the power bill. Your best viewing points will be on the Arizona side, after you've crossed the dam.

Can you drive over the Hoover Dam 2022? ›

The roadway on the Arizona side of the site has been closed. Vehicles can still cross the dam to visit the Arizona viewpoints and concessions, but all are required to turn around and re-enter Nevada to access Highway 93.

Where is the best place to view the Hoover Dam? ›

The Mike O'Callaghan- Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge is right opposite the Hoover Dam and carries the U.S.Route 93. It is the best place to view the Hoover Dam in all its glory. There is a plaza where you can walk and stop to take pictures. It is also the widest concrete-steel arch bridge in the USA.

Can you still drive across Hoover Dam? ›

You can drive across the Hoover Dam, but there is no through traffic permitted on the Dam. The road from the Arizona side is closed and you'll have to turn around to reenter Nevada to go and you will also have to go through security checkpoints.

How long does a tour of Hoover Dam take? ›

Hoover Dam Tours

Visitors should note that a Hoover Dam Tour includes a one-hour guided tour of the powerplant and passageways within the dam itself, while the Powerplant Tour is a 30-minute guided tour of the powerplant only.


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