Just under an hour’s drive southeast of Las Vegas, the mighty Hoover Dam straddles the Colorado River. While this graceful 726ft-tall concrete marvel does not, as many visitors imagine, supply a significant proportion of the electricity that keeps Las Vegas running, its construction during the 1930s triggered the growth spurt, and the gambling boom, that created the modern city.
The main highway to Arizona, US-83, crosses the Colorado on a new bridge, slightly downstream from the dam. To see the dam itself, leave the highway via the spur roads at either end, park in the multistorey garage on the Nevada side, and walk down to the Visitor Center. Displays there explain the story and inner workings of the dam, but paying just a little extra entitles you to join a Powerplant Tour, and ride an elevator down to its base. The hour-long Dam Tour takes you right into its bowels, exploring its dank and mysterious tunnels.