Just over an hour outside of Kingman, Arizona, is a modern engineering marvel—the Hoover Dam. In 1930, when it was finished, it achieved status as the highest dam to be built and it had the price tag to show for it, though it still came in under budget. The Dam was the most expensive water project to date, and this during a time when the country’s economy battled with the Great Depression. As such, it stands as a symbol to many how perseverance can overcome even the most adverse of conditions. Thousands flocked to the Black Canyon to tame the wild Colorado River, and in less than five years, the largest power plant of its time stood towering, a monolith rising 726.4 feet above bedrock, as tall as a sixty story skyscraper, to the road. If you’re looking for a “dam” interesting day trip during your stay at Zuni Village RV Park, power your way along Highway 93 North for 73 miles, cross over the Hoover Dam By-Pass Bridge, and take Exit 2.
See the Dam All “Decked” Out
There are no Powerplant or Dam Tours at this time, but Visitor Center Exhibits are open to the public at 25% capacity. Guests can still have a “dam” good time with the purchase of exhibit tickets inside the Visitor Center. With the purchase of an exhibit ticket, visitors can immerse themselves in the history of Hoover Dam as they walk through the narrated exhibits. Visitors are also afforded a 360-degree view from the Observation Deck where they can take in sprawling vistas of the Colorado River, the Hoover Bypass Bridge, the Dam itself, as well as Lake Mead. A narrated, 3D model is available for viewing in the Original Exhibit Building where visitors can gain an understanding of the area’s dams and power systems.
These tickets are only available for in-person purchase and on a first-come first-served basis. Everyone in your group must be present at time of ticket purchase. There are no tickets available for online purchase at this time. Masks are required for all visitors in indoor exhibits, regardless of immunization status. Visitors are also asked to observe six (6) feet of social distance between groups. There are several vendors authorized to conduct guided, driving tours. Please check the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation website (https://www.usbr.gov/lc/hooverdam/service/) for links. Current hours of operation are from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Art Amidst Architectural Achievement
It is difficult to dispute that the Hoover Dam is an architectural wonder. The dam itself weighs 6,600,000 tons, composed of over three and one-quarter million cubic yards of concrete. To give you an idea of just how much that is, imagine a paved highway, sixteen feet wide, stretching all the way from New York City to San Francisco. The main structure of the Dam, the enormous, curved wall, has a thickness of 660 feet at the bottom and tapers to 45 feet at the road on top. It essentially functions as a stopper wedged between the canyon walls, holding back trillions of gallons of water in the reservoir created by the Dam itself—Lake Mead. Power is generated as intake towers on the lake side drop the water down about 600 feet. This drives the turbines, creating power, before it spills out into the river and continues its journey south.
But amidst all the business is beauty. Architect Gordon B. Kaufmann enlisted the aid of Denver artist Allen True to marry the aesthetics of Art Deco and Modernism influences with a striking palette of white, black, dulled red-ochre, and green to contrast with the black-marble walls. True was responsible for the Native American motifs that are woven throughout the entire facility as well. Sculpture is also an integral part of the Dam’s design with the prominent bronze sculpture, Winged Figures of the Republic, standing thirty feet tall at the Nevada entrance.
While many parts of the Hoover Dam facility are currently closed to the public, the modern engineering marvel is still worth a visit. Visitors can make an easy day trip from Kingman, Arizona, learn about the Dam’s interesting history and lore, walk across the bridge, and enjoy spectacular views of the Dam and the surrounding features. The Hoover Dam—just another reason the Zuni Village RV Park is a “dam” interesting place to visit.