We had read online that the best time to visit was first thing in the morning. So that's when we went. The advice was great...we drove out towards the dam, passed through the first security point, and entered the parking garage with no delays at all. I mention this because when we were leaving around 1:00 or so the traffic heading to the dam was backed waaaaaay up. Miles and miles!
Even though we knew the dam was massive, it was stunning to see the size of it in person. The minute we had the car parked we were all at the railing checking it out :).
Then it was down to another security check point and on to purchase tickets for admission and any tour you want to take.
Before beginning the tour, they show a movie about the building of the dam. Did you know that the Colorado River was diverted during construction? Pretty amazing!
An elevator took us down 530 feet through the canyon wall to a tunnel that was drilled in the 30's. We followed the tunnel to a viewing platform over one of the huge pipes that transports water from Lake Mead to the generators in the power plant. These pipes have the capacity to transport nearly 90,000 gallons of water each second!
The tour took us through some more tunnels, up another elevator, and to the Nevada wing of the power plant. Here we saw some of the giant generators.
One last walk through the tunnels and to the elevator that took us back to the top. There was an interesting exhibit area to see.
We enjoyed the views from the observation deck...
After seeing everything at the visitor center, we walked over to the dam itself. You are allowed to walk all the way across or even drive your car if you want to.
By this time, everything was getting to be really crowded. We had seen all we wanted to see, so we made a quick pass through the gift shop and headed back towards Vegas to grab some lunch.
Very interesting...we all learned a lot :)