What better way to see the historic Hoover Dam, than to hike to it! With over a million of visitors annually, the dam is one of the main tourist attractions when visiting the Las Vegas Nevada area--off the famous strip. I've visited it a few times, but my favorite way to see it was hiking the old railway trail leading up to it. If you are looking for some outdoor time on your trip to Vegas, this enjoyable, easy hike is the perfect day trip outside of the bustling casinos. The trail mixes a bit of history with beautiful panoramic views of Lake Mead. So pack a lunch and get ready for a beautiful day!
Length: 8 miles out and back | Level: Easy | Duration: 3-4 hours | Elevation: 900
Dogs: Yes on leash | Parking: Free at the trailhead
The trailhead is found just 40 minutes south east of Las Vegas, and there is usually plenty of parking in the lot with also places for overflow. The trail is well marked with signs and historical points of interest as you progress toward the dam. So what exactly is this trail and why is it still here? Well, back in the day it was used as a railroad transport system to the dam. Currently it is the only remaining section of that system that is not highly disturbed or under water.
The entire trail to the dam is mainly flat with only a few super slight inclines which makes it accessible for everyone. I saw people with baby strollers, bikes, and all levels of hikers when I was there. Dogs are welcome on leash! As soon as you leave the parking lot, you are already presented with this great view of Lake Mead! And, it only gets prettier from here.
Quick Trail Tips:
This hike is best done in fall and winter months as it gets super hot in the summer. Even though the tunnels do provide relief from the heat, there is no shade otherwise. I did it the end of October and it was a bit chilly and windy that day with sunshine
Though easy, it is long so bring plenty of water, snacks or a lunch. There are a lot of benches and places to sit along the way to enjoy the view which allow for several lunch spots.You can also grab food at the Hoover Dam visitor center area if you prefer, and that is a great place to relax and charge up
One of the coolest things about this trail are the railroad tunnels you get to walk through. There are a total of 5, and all are approximately 300 feet in length, and 25 feet in diameter. They are huge as they had to accommodate the trains carrying large equipment to the Hoover Dam.
Aside from the epic Hoover Dam at the end, I really enjoyed this part of the trail seeing the remnants of the past and following in the footsteps of the railway. So take your time and have some fun exploring the tunnels!
Once you emerge from the 5th tunnel, you'll start to see power lines and signs pointing to the Hoover Dam. This is nearing the last mile as you approach the dam. There are two ways at the fork here to reach the dam, the longer way and a shortcut. I took the longer way first, and then the shortcut on the way back. Both go to the same place so whichever you prefer!
As you get even closer to the dam, there are some more relics of the parts and pieces that were transported here when this was an operating railroad route. Read the plaques for a quick history lesson and then make your way to the dam.
Once passing the row of relics, you will see steps and a path that will take you down through the Dam visitor center. There are so many views of the dam at this point - this one below happens to be my favorite. I just love the bridge over the dam!
As I mentioned earlier, lots of tourists flock the dam. I got really lucky when I did this as it was during the Covid pandemic so very few people were visiting at this time- making for many photos with no one in them! Regardless though, the trail is super fun and was one of my favorite solo trips I did. Below is a bird's eye view of the entire route I found on Google.
I hope this trail inspires you to explore this area and the Hoover Dam. Enjoy!
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