Las Vegas to Hoover Dam – How to Get There
Ahhhhh the glitz and glamor of the Las Vegas Strip. Energy and excitement, top-notch shows, fancy resort hotels, fine dining, shopping galore, and hopefully a little luck on your side (wink wink)!
But if you’re up for a day trip outside the city – a little road trip, so to speak, then grab a rental car and get ready to experience some natural beauty after all that neon. Take in some spectacular sights and one of the greatest engineering feats ever constructed. Because in just under 40 minutes, you can drive from Vegas to the Hoover Dam.
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The Shaka Guide app has a fantastic self-driving tour you can download if you’re looking for detailed directions and information (I’ll tell you a little more about that later) but first here’s a quick rundown of how you can take this ‘side trip’ from Vegas into the Mojave Desert. I’ve done it myself and have loved every minute of it!
Dietmar Rabich / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0
First of all, get an early start so that you can squeeze in as much as possible since there’s a lot to see and experience. We’ll take the highway to get there, but then we’ll take a more scenic route back.
It takes less than 40 minutes (38 miles) to get from the south end of Las Vegas Boulevard to Hoover Dam. And it’s extremely enjoyable to stop in historic downtown Boulder City along the way. That’s the town that was formed specifically to house all of the Hoover Dam construction workers and their families back in the day. This pretty little town is loaded with history and even a free museum arguably as good as the one at the dam itself. It’s called the Boulder City Hoover Dam Museum.
You’ll also want to make a quick stop at adorable Hemenway Park on your way to the dam, where the bighorn sheep like to come down off the mountain and graze. It’s also in Boulder City, and offers the most picturesque and breathtaking view of Lake Mead and the mountains surrounding it that you’ll ever see.
Once you reach Hoover Dam, you could spend much of your day there. Or not. That’s up to you. On one hand, it’s a tourist destination with several options on site for guided walking tours and exhibits (that you have to pay for.) On the other hand, you may find that taking your own (free) walk around the dam is enough. If so, be sure and walk along both sides of the rim so that you get a view of the Colorado River and also a view of Lake Mead.
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If Hoover Dam hasn’t taken up your whole day (or if you have more than one day to spare), there are more options.
One thing you could do is continue into Arizona and drive all the way to the Grand Canyon’s West Rim – the closest rim to Hoover Dam. That would take two more hours (94 miles). So that’s another four hours round-trip in total.
Or, what I would recommend, is that you take a gorgeous, leisurely and scenic drive back to Las Vegas through Lake Mead National Recreation Area along Lakeshore Road, chock full of beautiful overlooks and hiking trails. Stop at the Visitor Center for crafts and exhibits, hike along a Historic Railroad trail and through some amazing tunnels, dip your toes into Lake Mead itself, and stop at all the scenic overlooks to feast your eyes on some incredible volcanic mountains and desert landscapes brimming with colorful rock formations.
Finally, take Northshore Road to East Lake Mead Boulevard back to Las Vegas for a jaw-dropping view of the Vegas skyline from the desert.
RELATED: The Ultimate Lake Mead Travel Guide
Here’s a summary of the driving directions from Las Vegas to Hoover Dam:
- Starting in Las Vegas, head south on South Las Vegas Blvd.
- Continuing southeast, take Hwy. 215 to Hwy.11 to Bus. Rt. 93 to Nevada Way into Boulder City’s Historic District (and to the Boulder City Hoover Dam Museum).
- Continue on Bus. Rt. 93 East
- Turn left on Ville Drive for Hemenway Park
- Continue on Bus. Rt. 93 East for Hoover Dam
In total, the drive from Las Vegas to Hoover Dam will take about 40 minutes.
Scenic Northshore Road
To take the scenic route through Lake Mead National Recreation Area back to Las Vegas once you’re finished at Hoover Dam:
- Take Bus. Rt. 93 West to Lakeshore Road.
- Turn right to enter the Lake Mead National Recreation Area
- (Follow signs for the Visitor Center, Historic Railroad Trail, Boulder Beach and the overlooks. These are all right-hand turns off of Lakeshore Road.)
- Turn right once you reach Northshore Road
- Turn left onto East Lake Mead Boulevard to head back to Las Vegas (you’ll see the skyline from the desert before reaching the city limits.)
One of the best ways to take the day trip ‘loop’ that I’ve described here is by downloading the Shaka Guide Hoover Dam & Lake Mead Tour. It’s like having your own private tour guide right there in your passenger seat – a trusted source describing the best places to go and helping you make each turn. All while keeping you entertained with fascinating stories about what you’re seeing out the window! Plus lots of additional ideas and suggestions along the way.
RELATED: Hoover Dam & Lake Mead Itinerary
And if you’re still thirsty for adventure, keep that rental car for one more day and head to Red Rock Canyon, which is only about a 25 minute drive (17 miles) west of Las Vegas. It’s a real showstopper (trust me) and Shaka Guide has a tour for that drive, too.
If you have several days in the Las Vegas area and want to take some longer road trips, Shaka Guide has driving tours of the North and South Rims of the Grand Canyon, and the “Mighty Five” parks in Utah. Every one of these tours is driveable from Las Vegas – it just depends on the length of the road trip you want to take.
Now, get out there, take some pictures, make some memories, and enjoy the ride!
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