After a super fun filled couple of days in Las Vegas, I was very eager to see the Hoover Dam .I had heard so much about how beautiful the water and canyon was, that it was definitely on a to- do –list of our holiday! We decided the Hoover Dam was best combined when visiting Las Vegas as its only 30 odd miles from Vegas and even if we didn’t feel like driving there ourselves , there were many ways of getting to Hoover Dam easily.
The Hoover Dam straddles the massive Colorado River which forms the border of the states of Arizona and Nevada. Its considered to be the largest dam in the world and was opened in 1936.Damming the Colorado River ,Lake Mead was constructed which offers visitors a wide variety of activity like fishing, camping, water skiing , boating ,and hiking.
The Hoover Dam and its surroundings is a day packed with activities and we were told that we should be well prepared if we really wanted to have some fun outdoors. So armed with good walking shoes, comfortable clothing and loads of sun block we headed for our big day out.
The Hoover Dam was once called Boulder Dam and is a massive concrete arch structure built in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River. Just looking at the massive structure was awesome. It was huge and one could only imagine the planning it took to construct the dam.
We started our trip of the Hoover Dam by trekking up the Mike O’Callaghan – Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge. It was magnificient. Despite of it being man made the bridge is truly stunning. I loved the fact that we could walk the bridge. There were no escalators or elevators and we got to read about the construction of the bridge as we walked up .The view was unrestricted and taking photographs was very easy. Walking across the bridge gave us a stunning view of the Hoover Dam and the beginnings of Lake Mead. If you are someone who is afraid of heights ,taking the broad sidewalk would be a better idea!
After the breathtaking view of the dam from the bridge it was time to hit the gorgeous water down below. The place is buzzing with outdoor activities and we were keen to kick start our fun! We decided to start the trip by hopping on to a raft tour of the Hoover Dam. We got into a motor-assisted inflatable raft and wafted along the waters of the Black Canyon and through the natural gorge of the Colorado River below the Hoover Dam. The view of the Black Canyon from the water was spectacular. The canyon was formed 15 million years ago due to volcanic activity and thus it gets its name from the black volcanic rock found throughout the area. The journey began with a 12-mile ,almost 3 ½ hour calm water raft trip along the Colorado River all the way to Willow Beach, Arizona. The journey took us right from the foot the Hoover Dam, giving us a perspective like nothing else about the dam. The tour guides along the way pointed out to different kinds of soaring birds of prey, the wonderful gravity defining big horn sheep, bubbling hot springs and beautiful yet unexpected waterfalls. Lunch was served in a very romantic setting along one of the sandy river beaches. After the calm water raft trip along the river, we wanted something a bit more adventurous and decided to hike to see the Bowl of Fire .They are brightly colored red ,pink and orange Aztec sandstone rocks seen along the north and western shores of Lake Mead. Over the years they have eroded and formed some strange rock patterns and formations. The hike was approximately a 2 mile cross country hike and it was well worth the effort. The rocks had a strange yet beautiful effect.
We wanted to visit one of the hot springs .Arizona Hot Springs is located just downstream and we decided to hike down to it following the signs of the trail head. The canyon twists and turns and remained the same almost for a mile and more, before opening to a wider and slightly narrow path way. The hike to Arizona Hot Springs was about 3.5 miles and the trail head overlooks the White Rock Canyon. And there located between the slot of the canyon was the hot spring, discharging highly mineralized water. White Rock Canyon is a strikingly beautiful volcanic area with a wide variety of funny sounding desert plants like desert tobacco, desert trumpet, rock nettle ,rock daisy etc. We were told to take a lot of water with us and to watch out for rattle snakes. Because the water is highly mineralized we were also warned about the harmful Naegleria fowleria, an amoeba which is common to thermal pools. I was too scared and didn’t get into the water. We were lucky the weather was nice and cool and most of the time we could hike and walk with the sun not being too hot. My friend who is a genius with any kind of outdoor activity was very keen on renting a boat and exploring the Colorado River and the Black Canyon. Heading upstream through the Black Canyon was amazing. The main objective of renting the boat was to be able to look up at Hoover Dam from the rivers point of view. Our 11 mile Black Canyon trip to the dam took us through deep and steep canyon walls and hot springs. We were lucky and got to see Big Horn Sheep on the cliff edges and even more lucky when we got to see a Bald Eagle soaring high above. We also decided to do a bit of fishing from the boat and were told that the waters have Trout, Large Mouth Bass and Stripe Bass. It was great fun rowing up stream amidst the beautiful setting of the Black Canyon. Willow Beach Marina has Boat Docks, Boat Rentals and food and beverages etc so we didn’t have to worry about getting things.
Having been all the way to Hoover Dam I had to see the Winged Figures of the Republic. Rubbing the statues feet was considered good luck and I just had to considering we had come all the way! Located on the Nevada side of the Hoover Dam were these two creatures, who had wings that were 30 feet tall . I didn’t know whether they were angels or demons or just humans from the future! They were incredible. These mythical art work of figures were on a terrazzo floor with a celestial chart that shows the exact position of the stars the day the Hoover Dam was dedicated. It gave us a feeling of being in outer space just looking up at these two magical figurines. The last and final thing we wanted to do was see the Hoover Dam from the sky. The view from the air was incredible and to be able to see the swirling waters of the Colorado River, the Hoover Dam in all its glory and the Black Canyon and its beautiful rock formations was truly splendid! Though the plane ride was short , it gave us an idea as to how truly magnificent the Hoover Dam and its surrounding really is. It was a long day that well and truly spent .The highlight of this trip for me was sailing along the gorges of the Black Canyon and being able to appreciate the true splendor of the Hoover Dam.