Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Oh Dam It: Our Tour of the Hoover Dam

My husband and I are becoming "that couple". We like touring historic sites, and we kind of sort of enjoy learning together. Touring the Hoover Dam last week was most definitely our cup of tea, and I have pictures to prove it. Warning: this post has a lot of dam(n) photos.

Come along with me on a tour!

After the Desperado roller coaster fiasco, we headed for the Hoover Dam with our minds set on taking one of the two tours they offer. We opted for the shorter of the two, because the hour long tour was 3 times as much money. We're sort of cheap frugal like that. We also thought we would probably be back some day, when we have more money to spare, and take the longer tour.

Before taking the dam tour, we spent some time walking around the sculptures that grace the side of the dam road. (Feel free to giggle when I say the word "dam" in front of another word. Almost everyone on the tour giggled at one point or another). Yeah, we're mature around these parts.

While on the tour, one guide told us the temperature was about 104 degrees that afternoon. Not to mention, there was some pretty stifling humidity in the air due to all of that amazing water. That water can be very powerful! Pun intended. We were warned not to visit in July and August. I could only imagine we would melt into the concrete during those months, and there is a lot of concrete at the Hoover Dam!

After browsing the statues, we hurried into the air conditioned visitor's center for our tour. It began with a short video covering some history of the dam construction, and then about 20 of us were shuffled onto an oversized elevator. The ride down into the bowels of the Hoover Dam lasted for about 90 seconds. It was a claustrophobic's nightmare. Good thing we're not claustrophobic! (:

We learned a lot about the construction of the Hoover Dam, water rights between states, amounts of electricity the generators produce, and what happens to the water after it creates power. Don't worry, it's just returned to the river below the dam. Pretty painless for the water, I believe.

Part of the tour had us in a room over one of the two diversion tunnels created during construction of the dam. In the picture above, the tour guide is basically pointing at our location. Let me tell you, the vibration of the floor due to the gushing water under our feet was a little unnerving considering we were about 550 feet below Lake Mead. Even better news, the dam is almost as thick as it is tall. I might not be claustrophobic, but I do have a little thing about drowning. I think that growing up watching the Poseidon Adventure messed with my head a little. Good news though, we survived the diversion tunnel room!

After making it out alive leaving the diversion tunnel, we hopped on the elevator to visit the "power plant" part of the Hoover Dam. This is where the magic happens folks! The power of gravity and water is unleashed on these poor unsuspecting generators. It was incredible standing in one of the two generator rooms, because the power generated by the Hoover Dam gives millions of people the ability to lighten things up a bit.

What would we do without electricity?

It is seriously amazing what a powerful river, massive amounts of concrete and hard work, some crazy amazing turbines, and lots of tiny electrons can do. Okay, maybe I oversimplified that a bit, but I like it that way. Just go with it.

After learning far too many numbers and watts, we climbed the stairs to the observation deck overlooking the dam. It was still 1009 degrees outside, so we didn't stay long. Just long enough for me to snap a picture of the cluster of power lines that carry power away from the dam.

After leaving the Hoover Dam, we both decided that we needed to walk across the bypass bridge that was recently completed. The Mike O'Callaghan - Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, next to the Hoover Dam, was another amazing feat of concrete and construction. You can drive across the bridge, but we opted for the good old fashioned foot method. I also wanted to take a few pictures.

The roadway is almost 1,000 feet above the river.
Walking across the bridge may not be a great idea for those afraid of heights.
Don't look down!

If you visit the dam, I suggest taking some time
to walk across this incredible structure.

The wind practically blew us away, but the views from the bridge were incredible! Look to the left and you see Nevada. Look to the right and you see Arizona. The Hoover Dam almost looked small from atop the bridge. It was fun watching the boats cruise around Lake Mead too, and I think maybe some day it would be fun to get out there on a boat!

The bridge is a bit of a walk from the parking lot but worth it. Touring the Hoover Dam and walking across the Mike O'Callaghan - Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge were a great way to spend the day!

After a long and tough day on a dam(n) tour, we stopped in a small town near the dam called Boulder City. We happened to stumble across a little local brewery called the Boulder Dam Brewing Company, and of course we could not pass up a tasty local brew. The beer was much better than the food, but they were tapped out of a few beers so we didn't get a big selection. It was a nice way to cool down a bit after a hot afternoon at the Hoover Dam.

The Hoover Dam was everything we expected and more. The whole thing was a little hard to comprehend, because the dam creates amazing amounts of electricity. We were bombarded with so many numbers, but just being there was unbelievable.

I hope there weren't too many dam(n) pictures for you to handle.

If you made it this far, thanks for sticking with me through the tour!

This week is crazy busy for me, so I can almost promise you the rest of my posts won't be nearly this lengthy. I love you for reading my sometimes tiring blog posts! Have a wonderful day blog friends.


  1. I hear it's must see. It's great you had a chance to go and get some great pictures.

    You hit up a brewery afterwards, thus proving your not a 70 year old couple. If you start wearing matching fanny packs and orthopedic sneakers I'll be concerend :)

  2. Wow! I've been through there so many times, but never stopped there. Not brave enough. HeHe.... Looks like fun though!

  3. I love the pics Ashley! Looks like a very fun day :)

  4. We drove across the bridge when we took Johns car out there, it's amazing! It's so huge and you can't even tell your driving over the dam!

  5. I definitely giggled every time you inserted dam in every sentence, then I giggle even more when I read the line "feel free to giggle.."! LOVE it!!

    I wanna go traveling now! Love ALL these pictures. :) And nothing beats a nice cold beer to cool off from the heat!

  6. Very cool. Such an amazing structure and even though I've never been there, I feel like I got a little tour, too! Great job capturing the dam thing. :)

    Stephanie (Big Mario)

  7. I've only ever been once. And didn't take a tour.

    Guess I should do that next time.

  8. I love this because my husband and I are the same way! Okay, we need to plan to get together! I was thinking maybe meeting halfway is the way to go... I will leave the planning up to you because I don't know where a good halfway spot is! Let me know what you think... I am open....any day of the week. Any day at all. Can you tell I am bored here all alone? I AM!

  9. I've always wanted to go the Hoover Dam but I'm pretty claustrophobic maybe I shouldn't go haha. Love the pictures...stopping for a beer sounds like a great way to end the day :)


  10. OMG! Amazing photos and I love your top! I was supposed to tour Hoover Dam with a couple friends but never got the chance too, but now I do feel like I've actually toured there thanks to your blog. =)

  11. I'm so jealous!! I'd love to go and tour the Dam!!