Boulder City & the Hoover Dam
Boulder City/Hoover Dam is about 30 minutes from Las Vegas on I-93, which branches off from I-95 outside of Las Vegas. Boulder City has been a non-gambling town since its inception. When the first residents wanted to drink, gamble, and cut loose, they headed into Las Vegas. Boulder City was built to house workers from Hoover Dam (originally called Boulder Dam), and before buildings were erected, workers and those hoping for work lived in a tent city. In the midst of the Great Depression, people were willing to camp in the harsh Mojave Desert for the chance at getting a job.
Boulder City's small-town atmosphere contrasts sharply with the neon and glitz of Las Vegas. Antique shops, restaurants, and historic buildings fill its downtown. Since downtown only covers a few blocks, visitors can easily wander the entire area on foot. The historic Boulder Dam Hotel (built in 1933) is great place to stop for lunch and a visit to the Boulder City/Hoover Dam Museum. If you'd rather enjoy a picnic, visit Bicentennial Park. This large, shade-filled park is frequently used for art festivals, cook-offs, and other community events. On the first weekend in October, it houses the main area of the annual Art in the Park festival, which draws entrants from around the country and clogs Boulder City with visitors.
A short drive from Boulder City, the impressive Hoover Dam spans Black Canyon. Tours into the dam take visitors deep into the massive structure. History buffs will be fascinated by the story of how this Depression Era engineering wonder tamed the Colorado River, bringing an end to floods downriver and generating power for several states. Contrary to popular myth, no workers are entombed in its concrete, although workers did die during the construction. Visitors can also park and walk across the massive bypass bridge that has re-routed traffic around the dam.
A short detour off I-93 will take you to Lake Mead, the giant reservoir that Hoover Dam created. Boat tours are available throughout the day; follow signs to the marinas that have been relocated due to the lake's low water levels. Look for the white "bath tub ring" on the cliffs and islands to get an idea of how low the water level has fallen. Hikers or bicyclists can take the historic Five Tunnels Trail next to the visitor's center. The trail follows the route that the railroad took while it was delivering supplies to the dam during its construction. As the name implies, the trail goes through five tunnels bored through the rocky landscape.
Railroad enthusiasts can visit the Boulder City Railroad Museum on Yucca Street. The restored trains carry passengers on a short ride down to Railroad Pass. Beyond the museum, Bootleg Canyon is filled with rugged mountain biking trails and is classified by the International Mountain Bicycling Association as an Epic Trail. A new zipline experience, Bootleg Canyon Flightlines, is also located in Bootleg Canyon. Adventurers strapped into a paragliding harness whiz along at up to 50 m.p.h. on a cable suspended a thousand feet above the canyon's floor. © NileGuide
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