The Hoover Dam for kids: dam facts and tips for visiting as a family

Hoover dam from above.

If you are thinking of visiting the Hoover Dam with children, you may be wondering how fun the dam will be for them and if there is anything you need to know before reaching this remote engineering wonder.

We also had this doubt and were delighted to discover that there is a lot in Hoover Dam for kids. The dam’s visitors centre caters for visitors of all ages and the dam is great for a family day out.

In this article, we complement our previous guide to vising the dam with some practical tips to visit Hoover Dam with kids.

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Hoover dam for kids facts
Fun facts about the hoover dam for kids and tips for vising as a family

Hoover Dam with kids: our visit

We visited the Hoover Dam during a family road trip in the Southwest of the United States. It was a scorching hot July morning when we got to the dam and despite the relentless heath, we had a fulfilling and fun day there.

We had reached the dam from Las Vegas and despite attempts of getting an early start, ended up being at hoover not earlier than the late morning.

We left the car in the parking closest to the visitors centre and spend about 2 hours there, plus time to get a snack at the concession shop.

Tips for visiting the Hoover Dam with kids

 

Interactive displays at hoover dam are what make he dam such an interesting destination for a family day out. Discover how to visit with kids and fun facts about the Hoover dam for kids
Hoover dam is a great place to visit with kids. Impressive , educational and fun, it has lot of kid friendly displays that make the dam a great place for a family day out

Time your visit wisely

Hoover Dam is a majour tourist attraction and this means crowds should be expected pretty much at all times.

To make sure you find a space in your parking of choice (see below) and to minimize the risk of long lines, it is usually recommended to visit early in the morning and avoid weekends.

The busiest season for visitation to Hoover Dam runs from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

The quietest months are January and February. The least crowded time of day for tours is from 9:00am to 10:30am and 3:00 pm to 4:45pm.

Pick the parking lot that is right for you

The dam is served by several parking lots, both paid and free.

The closes parking to the visitor centre is on the Nevada side of the dam and currently charges 10$ per vehicle while free lots are on the other side of the state border, in Arizona.

When deciding where to park, I suggest you take into account both budget and location.

The free lots on the Arizona side are up to a 10 minute walk from the dam and this can be challenging for small kids, especially on summer days or hours of intense sun.

Protect them from the sun

Direct sun and intense heat are a problem for all people visiting the dam in the hot season and can be exceptionally dangerous for babies and small children.

The parking lot beside the visitors centre and the visitor’s centre itself are shaded and indoors but the dam is exposed to the sun and so are the roads and pavements leading to it.

Especially if visiting at midday or in summer, make sure adults and kids are using sunscreen, sunhat, shades and appropriate clothing.

Bring a water bottle

Water fountains are located at the entrance of the parking lot of the Nevada side, where you will also find a shop / cafeteria.

The fountains are a great to fill out your water bottle cheaply before heading across the dam (or to splash water on your kids’ head to cool them down!).

Bring healthy snacks

The concession on the Nevada side of the dam sells sandwiches, burgers, snacks and drinks and is a good place to grab a meal on the go should you not have your own packed lunch.

However, we found the lack of fruit and healthier options challenging with kids: especially with little ones, I believe bringing a serving of fruit or a healthy food option from home can be useful.

Explore the visitor’s centre

The kids’ highlight of our visit to the Hoover dam this summer was a stop at the visitors centre.

Entrance to the centre is ticketed and this puts several visitors off (you can also just walk across the dam for free), but we it was a great investment for us as the exhibition proved to be very informative and fun for kids.

The exhibition starts with information panels about the history and the construction of the dam but it soon turns into a series of interactive displays kids and adults can engage with to learn about electricity, the dam and its workings.

My kids adored the ‘magic box’ in which you create electricity from scratch (!) and a game that sees one person creating energy and the other switching on household appliances. Each appliance that comes on demands extra effort from the person creating electricity: a fabulous way to make the dam connected with daily life and a super fun team game!

Manage expectations

Several tours are available at the dam, but those allowing access to the actual power plant are not open to children under 8.

I had been tempted to entice the kids with promises of tunnels and crazy machinery but I am glad I did as those areas are not accessible for kids and it would have been a majour let down for them.

Strollers at the Hoover Dam

The visitor centre and the parking lot closest to it are stroller friendly. Lift access is provided to the viewing terrace on top of the centre.

 

Mike O'Callaghan Pat Tillman memorial bridge as seen from the Hoover Dam Nevada
The Mike O’Callaghan Pat Tillman memorial bridge is as impressive as Hoover Dam and sits right in front of it

Get them excited: Facts about Hoover Dam for kids

The Hoover Dam is an exciting place for kids.

The dam itself is massive, the bridge in front of it  breathtaking and there are several Hoover Dam facts that are likely to pique the interest of children.

Here is a selection of facts our family enjoyed.

Is hoover dam the biggest dam in the world?

No, although when Hoover Dam was finished in 1935 it was the tallest dam in the world ( at 726 ft.). The tallest dam in the world is Nurek Dam on the Vakhsh River in Tajikistan.

Hoover dam still ranks in the top 20 of the tallest dams in the world, but only in the concrete gravity and arch categories

How big is hoover dam?

At its base, Hoover Dam is as thick as two footballs fields.

How heavy is Hoover dam?

Hoover Dam weights More than 6,600,000 tons.

What is hoover dam made of?

Hoover dam is made of concrete and there is enough of it in it you could pave a standard highway 16 feet wide, from San Francisco to New York City.

How much electricity does Hoover dam generate?

Hoover Dam generates about 4 billion KW/h of hydroelectric power a year for use in Nevada, Arizona, and California.

During peak electricity periods, enough water runs through the generators to fill 15 average sized swimming pools in 1 second.

If you drink water from the tap at Disneyland Sea World in San Diego, you drink water from Lake Meade here at the dam.

Each of the 17 generators can supply electricity to 100,000 households.

How far does the electricity from Hoover Dam get?

The Colorado River is more than 1,400 miles long and supplies water to Los Angeles, San Diego, and Phoenix.

Las Vegas gets almost all its water from Lake Mead, which was made by Hoover Dam when it blocked the Colorado River and flooded the Mojave Desert.

There are 2700 miles of transmission lines sending electricity from Hoover Dam to Los Angeles.

How busy does Hoover dam get?

As many as 20,000 vehicles a day drive across dam crossing the border between Nevada and Arizona.

Hoover Dam is the most visited dam in the world and receives about 7 million visitors each year.

I hope you enjoyed this family guide and fun facts about Hoover Dam for kids. Safe family travels!

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