Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, & Union Pacific Railroad Trail

During my stay in Las Vegas, I barely stayed in Las Vegas! There is so much to do other than the strip, and a great side adventure is just under an hour east. Heading towards the Hoover Dam we stopped at the Lake Mead Viewpoint [if you have the Hoover Dam in your GPS, you will pass a sign for the viewpoint].

lake_mead_viewWe were in awe of the vibrancy, read the informational plaques, and ready to ditch the crowd of tour buses. From the lot you are actually on top of the Union Pacific Railroad Trail. If you face opposite of the lake look down the hill and you will see a trail. Find the safest least steep route on down, and take a hike!

union_pacific_railroad_trail_2Head into the tunnel to begin, there are five in total, each with a unique view.union_pacific_railroad_trailYou are walking the path which was created for railroads to transport materials to build the Hoover Dam. There are informational plaques which tell the story of the railroad and its workers along the way. Take in the excellent views of the lake, flora, and wildlife on this popular trail.

union_pacific_railroad_trail_ union_pacific_railroad_trail_1Although the trail continues, after I reached the fifth tunnel I returned the way I came from. I wanted to get an up close and personal view of the dam. Upon reaching the initial tunnel you started at, stay on the trail continuing forward, there is great signage along the way. Once we saw all of the transformers we knew we were heading in the right direction.

hoover_dam_3Depending on which way you want to see the dam, you have two choices. First you can follow the signs that say towards the Hoover Dam, where you find the visitors center and the tour. We went down this way and glimpsed sight of the dam for the first time although it was wasn’t a head on view.

DSCN4082We read plaques and had an impeccable view of the walkway.

hoover_dam_2After a few minutes we made our way back to the second choice, the view from that beautiful bridge. Follow signage towards the memorial bridge walkway.

DSCN4067You must cross the road and head through the gate into a parking lot, then the trail becomes obvious. The gate my look closed, but as long as you are there at the appropriate daylight hours it swings open. Make your way up the short path, enjoying all of the information before you. The view of the Hoover Dam is best here. Even as the sun went down and the shadow of the bridge was cast upon it – I enjoyed the character of this shot.

hoover_dam_If you walk all the way across you pass from Nevada into Arizona, two places at once! After fully enjoying this area and not ready to head back to the strip, we visited the Lake Mead National Recreational Area. I had wanted to swim or kayak, but it was later than I projected and the day was a bit windy for a dip anyway! We still decided to hit the beach for a stroll and watched a breathtaking reverse sunset.DSCN4114lake_mead_recreational_area1DSCN4136The colors of the mountains and sky at this time were incredible, and I loved watching the coots diving and bobbing in the waves. This was a great day immersed in history and nature, a must visit during any trip to Las Vegas!

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