Constructed between 1931-1936, the Hoover Dam is a popular tourist destination in Nevada, having reopened its gates to tourists in March 2022 after a lengthy closure.
For those wanting to take a day trip from either Nevada or Arizona, driving is fairly straightforward and the cheapest way to reach the dam.
But can you drive over it, and is there parking nearby?
After completing a security inspection, it’s possible to drive over the Hoover Dam for both entry and exit points, but only from the Nevada side, and through-traffic is not allowed.
Paid parking is available on both the Nevada and Arizona sides of the dam, and free parking is available at four different lots on the Arizona side.
Which side of the Hoover Dam can you drive across from?
The only point of entry and exit to the dam is on the Nevada side. The Arizona side of the dam was blocked off once the Memorial Bridge (Bypass Bridge) was built in 2010.
Therefore, you must access the dam from the Nevada side.
Although driving across the dam is possible, you cannot stop your car on top of the dam and must park to take pictures and maneuver around the site.
Accessing the dam by car
As the dam is blocked on the Arizona side, if you try to access it via this route, then you will have to reroute and head to the Nevada side of the dam to be able to drive across it.
A guided option to the dam includes using a sat-nav, with coordinates: N 36.016222, W -114.737245.
Driving from Las Vegas
From the South end of Las Vegas to the Hoover Dam, it’s roughly a 40-45 minute drive.
- From Interstate 11, take Highway 93 leading through Bolder City, and follow the road signs.
- Take exit 2, and keep driving until you find a traffic circle. Take the exit to Nevada State Route 172.
- Drive on the underpass running under Highway 11.
- Once you’ve found the Hoover Dam access road, a few minutes later, you will encounter a security checkpoint that takes around 5 minutes to get through.
Driving from Arizona
Driving from Kingman, Arizona, to the Hoover Dam takes around 1 hour and 10 minutes.
- From Highway 93, take the Interstate 11 crossing over the Colorado River, and follow the road signs.
- Drive until you see the traffic circle and turn right onto Nevada State Route 172.
- Take the Hoover Dam Access Road and drive to the security checkpoint for the dam.
Vehicle types permitted to drive over the dam
If you’re driving to the dam to sightsee in a regular family car, van, trailer, or motorbike, then you should be fine for driving over the dam, parking, and having a nice time.
As there is a security checkpoint, use common sense and keep your vehicle easy to access and inspect, meaning no excessive baggage, hazardous liquids, and so on.
Vehicle exclusions include huge vehicles, such as an 18-wheeler, or ones that are going to prove difficult for security to inspect, such as double-stacked trailers, buses packed with suitcases, or any vehicle that is filled to the brim with baggage.
Otherwise, you’ll be fine to pass security checks and drive over the Hoover Dam.
Is there parking near the dam?
For regular-sized vehicles, a large parking garage is located on the Nevada side of the dam, nearby the Visitor Center.
The parking fees are $10 per vehicle, and the garage only accepts cash.
However, if you decide to pay for a guided tour of the dam and surrounding area, this fee will be refunded.
For oversized vehicles, such as recreational vehicles and trailers, you will have to park on the Arizona side of the dam, with either a $10 charge or free of charge, depending on the lot you choose to park at.
Both covered and open-air parking spots are available.
After passing the paid parking lot on the Arizona side, if you keep driving further, you will find four free parking lots on both the right and left-hand sides of the road, with the largest located the furthest away.
These operate on a first come, first served basis, so be sure to check these out if you’re arriving earlier in the day!
Alternative travel methods to the dam
Various shuttle buses are available from Las Vegas to the Hoover Dam. More extravagant packages include a helicopter ride, hotel pick-ups, and returns, as well as the Hoover Dam tour.
Some buses will also stop off in places such as Boulder City and Lake Mead for you to wander around and take in the local charm.
If you want to experience breathtaking views of the dam in all its glory and from the sky above, then a helicopter tour is a great option!
Rides to the dam operate from Las Vegas and Boulder City, flying at 2,500 feet and taking approximately 6 minutes to arrive, so they are comfortably the fastest option for arriving at the dam!
If you want a fully airborne experience, then roundtrip helicopter tours are also available.
Offering various pick-up and drop-off points around Las Vegas, guided tours offer the fullest experience of the dam.
Options range from basic tours up to VIP level, including a powerplant tour, a memorial bridge stop-off for pictures of the dam from afar, and in some instances, a privileged guided walk on top of the dam, making this the ultimate Hoover Dam experience!
Additional info about the dam
- Opening times for the dam run between 5 am and 9 pm (PST) except for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
- The visitor center is open daily between 9 am and 5 pm, costing $10 per person. If you’re interested in guided tours, they run between 9:00 am to 3:45 pm, and all tours must be purchased at the center.
- Tours include the Powerplant (visitor center included) for $12-15 per person and an hour-long Hoover Dam tour which includes the visitor center, costing $30 per person.
- The quietest times to visit the dam are between 9-10:30 am and 3-4:45 pm.
Driving across the Memorial Bridge
If you’re planning on visiting the Hoover Dam, then it makes sense to also visit the Mike O’Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, otherwise known as the Colorado River Bridge, which spans the gorge in front of the dam.
You won’t be able to sightsee the dam whilst driving over the bridge, as the sides of the bridge are too high.
However, there is a little parking lot near the bridge, and it’s then possible to take a walk over the bridge, making it a photo hotspot for the dam and neighboring canyons.
You can freely drive onto and over the Hoover Dam from the Nevada side of the dam. However, the dam is blocked off from the Arizona side, which means driving into Nevada and over the Colorado River to access it.
Once at the dam, there are paid parking garages on the Nevada side, and the Arizona side offers both paid and free parking on a first come, first served basis.