USA series: Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam - Lake Mead side

Hoover Dam – Lake Mead side

It is 8:00am on a Tuesday morning in a hotel room at the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas.

Alex and I need to get off to an early(ish) start as it will take about 5 hours for us to drive to the Grand Canyon.

Our trip today will be extended further with a stop at the Hoover Dam along the way.

Last night I managed to drive our Mustang rental car from the rental car company to the Luxor Hotel without incident.

Our Mustang rental car

Our Mustang rental car

Being from Australia, I am used to cars being driven on the left hand side of the road, with the driver sitting on the right hand side of the road. In the USA, everything is opposite so it requires a certain level of concentration when driving, especially when turning at intersections.

I’m not planning on having an accident but, if all else fails we have full “walk away” insurance… and just in case Alex drives (kidding Alex!) … worth the extra USD$90.

9:00am
We hit the road in our bad-ass black Mustang and I am pleased that it is a weekday morning and traffic is pretty light. Also thank goodness the roads are fairly major and our route fairly straight and uncomplicated. The less turns I need to make, the better.

Driving to Hoover Dam

Driving to Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam surrounds

Hoover Dam surrounds

Approaching Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam

Approaching Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam

11:00am
We arrive without incident to the Hoover Dam – so far so good.

The Hoover Dam according to Wikipedia:

“Hoover Dam, once known as Boulder Dam, is a concrete arch-gravity dam in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River, on the border between the US states of Arizona and Nevada. It was constructed between 1931 and 1936 during the Great Depression and was dedicated on September 30, 1935, by President Franklin D Roosevelt. Its construction was the result of a massive effort involving thousands of workers, and cost over one hundred lives. The dam was controversially named after President Herbert Hoover.

Hoover Dam impounds Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the United States by volume. The dam’s generators provide power for public and private utilities in Nevada, Arizona, and California. Hoover Dam is a major tourist attraction; nearly a million people tour the dam each year.”

On reaching the Hoover Dam we come across the multi level car parking facility and park the beast (aka the rental Mustang) for a cost of USD$7.00.

Grand Canyon car park monolith

Grand Canyon car park monolith

We take about an hour to look around the general area, walking only half way across the dam wall.

Leaving the car park and approaching the dam's wall

Leaving the car park and approaching the dam’s wall

On one side of the road you can peer over the top of the wall and look downriver.

View looking down river from atop the dam

View looking down river from atop the dam

The Hoover Dam's curved dam wall

The Hoover Dam’s curved dam wall

On the other side of the dam wall is Lake Mead.

Hoover Dam - Lake Mead side

Hoover Dam – Lake Mead side

We pass on visiting the visitor centre as it costs another USD$8.00 each to enter and there is a lengthy queue… and I basically don’t like queuing.

12:00pm
Back in the Mustang we head off for our next 4 hour stint to the Grand Canyon via highway 93 and the township of Kingman.

Dry landscape as we head towards the Grand Canyon

Dry landscape as we head towards the Grand Canyon

The weather has not been great due to intermittent rain all day.  The trucks are a nightmare to pass in the wet, even considering it is a two lane highway.   Apart from the annoying rain, overall the driving is not as difficult as I had imagined and we have freeway most of the way.

Nearing the Grand Canyon

Nearing the Grand Canyon

We pass through Kingman and continue on Highway 40 which also encompases a section of the old Route 66 along the way.  Now we’re talking…

Driving part of Route 66

Driving part of Route 66

 

Our final turn off for the Grand Canyon National Park onto Route 64 occurs near Williams.  Williams looks interesting and Alex and I decide it might be worth a visit tomorrow on our trip back to Las Vegas. 

4:40pm
We finally arrive at the Grand Canyon park gate and pay the Park Officer the required park entry fee of USD$25 per car.

Grand Canyon National Park Gate

Grand Canyon National Park Gate

We are booked into one of the cabins at the Bright Angel Lodge for the night and head straight for the lodge to get checked in before we look at the Grand Canyon.

Our cabin is simple but comfortable and it looks like Alex and I will have a lot to chat about later tonight given there is no TV, no wi-fi and not a board game in sight.

Even having made our room reservation months in advance, we were lucky to get a room at the Bright Angel Lodge.  The reason we wanted to stay here is that you are about 50 metres from the edge of the Grand Canyon.  It is such an amazing location and we would have been disappointed to stay anywhere else.  If you want to make a reservation, get organised and do it early through the Grand Canyon Lodges website.

Bright Angel Lodge - reception at peak hour

Bright Angel Lodge – reception at peak hour

Bright Angel Lodge - reception at non peak hour

Bright Angel Lodge – reception at non peak hour

We throw our bags in our room and head off to check out the view… and what a stunning view it is.

Viewing patio off the Bright Angel Lodge reception

Viewing patio off the Bright Angel Lodge reception

Viewing platform

Viewing platform

A stunning Grand Canyon

A stunning Grand Canyon

My first photo (of many) of the Grand Canyon

My first photo (of many) of the Grand Canyon

Clouds form within the Grand Canyon

Clouds form within the Grand Canyon

As the sun peeks through onto the Grand Canyon

As the sun peeks through onto the Grand Canyon

Amazing colours

Amazing colours

Alex's first photo of the Grand Canyon

Alex’s first photo of the Grand Canyon

7:30pm
The Bright Angel Lodge complex has everything we need for our overnight stay and is a registered national historic landmark itself.  Our cabin lies within this dormitory.

Powell Lodge within which is our cosy cabin

Powell Lodge within which is our cosy cabin

The lodge’s facilities also include a souvenir shop, a choice of restaurants for dinner, a bar and breakfast options for tomorrow morning. 

Bright Angel Lodge family restaurant

Bright Angel Lodge family restaurant

We won’t go hungry or thirsty and don’t have to travel outside of our accommodation for anything, except to get more of that wonderful view.

 

An impressive Grand Canyon

An impressive Grand Canyon

Also easily accessible from here, for those folks looking for a bit more exercise, is the Bright Angel Trail.

Bright Angel Trail according to Wikitravel:

“The park’s most popular trail is the Bright Angel trail which starts near the Bright Angel Lodge. This trail traverses a seemingly unending series of switchbacks down the canyon wall before leveling out somewhat around the oasis of Indian Gardens. Most hikers will traverse only a portion of this trail, and the park recommends that day hikers never attempt to go further than Indian Gardens.”

Switchbacks descend into the canyon

Switchbacks descend into the canyon

9:30pm
It has been a long drive today, ending with a brief chance to view the canyon before the sun set.

We will get an early night and be up early tomorrow, hopefully about 6:00am to catch a canyon sunrise.  Also tomorrow morning we will take the free shuttle that loops around the Grand Canyon rim before we begin our drive back to Las Vegas.[showmyads]

For previous USA series post see Washington DC to Las Vegas
For next USA series post see Grand Canyon, Arizona