In terms of remarkable engineering feats, the Hoover Dam numbers speak for themselves: it is 221m (726.4ft) high, 379m (1,244ft) wide and took 4.5 years to build from 1931.
When we arrived at the dam we were surprised to be directed into a car park which had a $10 charge (having never paid for parking on the rest of our US road trip). However we figured that maybe the price included the entrance charge, so paid it to a very miserable man who then informed us that tours were finished for the day. Sigh.
However, when we reached the visitor centre I was surprised to see that a one-hour tour would have cost us $30 (entrance to the visitor centre alone was $10 – also the first time we saw a charge for that). So a couple of hours of sightseeing would have totalled $70 (£42) for the two of us. While I understand the dam is some pretty impressive engineering, I thought that was quite steep – especially when you consider that a seven day pass to the Grand Canyon is $25 per vehicle. Maybe they’re still trying to reclaim some of the $165m it cost to build…
It was absolutely boiling as we made our way across the dam, but it was pretty amazing to see the huge body of water of the Colorado River on one side and know that what we were standing on was holding it all back.
But I was unimpressed when we crossed to the other side and found plenty of free parking. Tip: Ignore the signs for the pay car park and cross the dam to the free parking on the other side.
After viewing the dam from ground level we then drove around to the The Mike O’Callaghan – Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, where you can look down on it and get a full idea of its scale.
It was pretty impressive; especially when you consider that it was constructed in one of the hottest, driest, areas of the United States.
The water is now used for essential irrigation, electricity generation and wildlife habitation.
It was also quite cool to say goodbye to Arizona on one side of the bridge and hello to Nevada on the other!