It’s day 24 on our journey across the US and we are in Las Vegas today heading to the Hoover Dam.
We slept in this morning after our colossal day at the Grand Canyon yesterday.
We had actually driven past the Hoover Dam the night before but didn’t realise because it was so dark.
We got our car from the free valet and got on the road. The Hoover Dam is about a 45 minute drive from the strip. There is $10 parking available at the dam.
When you get there, you have a couple of options. You can just walk across the top of the dam wall for free. There are also two tour options:
- You can do a tour of the power plant or…
- You can tour the power plant and then tour inside the dam wall itself.
We did the power plant and dam wall tour for $30 each.
After you go through security and pay for your ticket you’ll go into a theatre. Here you’ll watch a short presentation about the building of the Hoover Dam. It is incredible to see this incredible demonstration of ingenuity forged from the Great Depression. Interestingly some of the concrete is still curing today nearly 100 years on.
From the theatre you can go up and explore the visitor center until your tour begins. We just had enough time to go up and take a few photos from the observation deck before our tour. There are no bathroom stops on the tour so make sure you take a toilet break before you go.
The Power Station
All tours begin the same. They will point out from the visitor center where they will be taking you then you go into an elevator that takes you to the power station at the bottom of the wall. First they take you to show you the pipe that the water is pumped through. If the water is flowing when you’re there, you’ll feel the ground move at the power of the water.
Next it’s on to the main turbine room of the power station. If you’ve seen the latest Terminator, this is where the final fight scene takes place, or in Transformers, where Megatron is kept. Though the Hoover Dam was originally built for irrigation, hydropower was a lucrative added benefit.
After the power station, the tour group splits in two and we continue on to the dam tour. The rest of the group will return to the visitor center where they can continue to look around at the history of the Hoover Dam.
Inside The Hoover Dam
Meanwhile we walk through a small tunnel that takes us into the bottom of the wall then ride an elevator up to the middle of the wall.
Some of the tunnels are easy to walk through, while others feel like you’re in a giant pipe. Let’s hope no one turns on the tap.
From a vent in the wall, we have a unique view of the Colorado River. They point out cracks in the wall and markings from that the workers wrote in the 1930s. They also show us an incredibly steep stairwell they seems to go on forever.
The dam tour ends at an elevator on top of the wall, which gives you the perfect opportunity to take a walk along the top to Arizona. The dam wall also used to be the highway until the Memorial Bridge was built to handle increased traffic.
Other than the visitor center where you start the tour, there is another museum that shows the full hydroscheme which is worth taking a look at.
Just outside you’ll also find a monument called the Winged Figures of the Republic. There is an audio recording that plays during the day that describes this monument.
Mike O’Callaghan – Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge
From here we took the short drive to the Mike O’Callaghan – Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge. Built after September 11, this bridge is a new addition. It replaced the route for Highway 93 that used to go over the Hoover Dam. Be warned though: only walk across if you aren’t afraid of heights. The bridge is much higher than the dam wall. That said, it will give you some spectacular views.
The bridge also marks the border between Arizona and Nevada.
The sun was setting so it was time for us to get back on the road. Back in Las Vegas, we had reservations at a restaurant in Old Town Las Vegas. Hugo’s Cellar is situated in the Four Queens’ Casino. When you first walk in, you enter a much older Casino, past people smoking and gambling. You would be forgiven for thinking, “This is not where I want to eat.” But as you make your way into the Cellar you start to see why this place comes recommended.
Firstly, as you’re seated, every lady gets a rose, which they put in a little vase on your table. I was a little concerned at the prices as we were on a budget but then I realised they had a split meal option where you split the steak but both get all the trimmings.
The waiter does this table side salad bar where the waiter wheels a trolley up by your table and makes the salad in front of you. You get to tell them exactly how you want it made and it is delicious.
Next, they bring out this mini sorbet cones to help you clear your pallet. The main itself is delicious steak with a range of yummy sauces.
You know, the kind of steak that melts in your mouth. Lastly, they bring out these chocolate coated fruits for dessert. These would have been enough if they hadn’t brought out a tray of full sized desserts to show me. I couldn’t resist having some cheesecake as well. We left feeling completely satisfied with our dining experience.
Downtown Las Vegas
Before we started the drive back down the strip we explored the main Downtown Las Vegas area. There were stages with live music and street performers.
There’s also a giant screen overhead that acts like a ceiling. It was cool to see everything that’s going on in Vegas – there is just so much activity.
However, it was sad to see the sexual exploitation of people near naked on a cold night trying to make money by posing for photos. We also saw people who had too much to drink. Aside from the bright lights and fancy restaurants this is the dark side of Vegas. I felt a deep sorrow amidst all the excitement here. I wouldn’t recommend bringing your children here.
After another big day we drove back to the hotel. We had another time share presentation the next day to attend.