Thursday, November 12, 2015

Lake Mead, Hoover Dam and Boulder City

Mr. Unpaved Road's college degree is in engineering. Twenty years ago, when we first visited Hoover Dam, he geeked out over touring the dam. My brain just doesn't work that way - and as impressive as the dam is,  I prefer to hear the history of the dam and about the people who built it. On this visit, we  drove from southern Utah through some of the most desolate area I have ever driven through, passing the incredibly low Lake Mead, to arrive at Hoover Dam and The Mike O Callaghan-Pat Tillman Bridge.




We started out in St. George, Utah with Las Vegas as our destination. After a stop at Valley of Fire State Park - more to come on that incredible place later - we thought we would stop for a drink and snack somewhere along the lake. Not knowing how incredibly desolate this area is, we came up empty handed in the snack department but found some great views of Lake Mead. The lake levels of Lake Mead are so low right now that they would need 10 years of an incredible amount of snowfall for the lake to  fill up to it's normal level.







Our next stop was at the Lake Mead Visitor Center, which was closed. Womp womp. So we went in search of the viewing area of the Mike O Callaghan-Pat Tillman bridge. Without knowing it, we drove right over the bridge. It's very difficult to tell that you are on anything but a regular bridge or roadway when driving over it. After turning around, we found the parking lot for the viewing area. 





There is a free exhibit detailing the building of the bridge named after former Nevada governor Mike O Callaghan and Pat Tillman, the Arizona football player who volunteered  for the US Army and was killed by friendly fire. The bridge is an arch bridge that spans the Colorado River and is unique in the way it was built (2 pieces of the arch were separately placed and put together) And I am totally oversimplifying it. It is a modern construction wonder! The bridge replaces a road that went over the actual dam which was inadequate for the amount of traffic it carried.












I'm not a fan of heights but I was on board to cross the walkway and view Hoover Dam down below. Until I got to the top. Then I handed Mr. UR the camera and said "Have at it". He thought I was kidding. I wasn't. It was really, really high and windy. Really, really windy.  So the photos below are credited to the husband.













Then we were off to drive down to the dam. It was too late in the day to take a tour but no worries as we had already done that the last time we visited. 








This photo shows the very low water levels of Lake Mead.




Now it was really time to eat. So we went into the cute, and very retro, downtown of Boulder City to have a meal at Boulder City Brewing Company. They have a showing of a documentary about building the dam on a loop at the restaurant - and outdoor seating available. Cool place with good food.




Boulder City sprang up from the need for housing, schools and shops for the dam builders and their families. Some of the original houses from the 1930's have remained relatively unchanged.




I would have loved to have more time to explore Boulder City and it's downtown - but we were off to Vegas, baby! And besides, it was getting dark!

How about you? Have you toured Hoover Dam? Did you walk across the walkway on the Mike O Callaghan-Pat Tillman bridge? ( I know I'm not the only one to ever chicken out - there were some others waiting with me on the side of the bridge!)

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I'm linking up! Please visit Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox,  The Weekly Postcard at Travel Notes and Beyond, Weekend Travel Inspiration at Reflections Enroute  and Weekend Wanderlust at A Brit and A Southerner!

21 comments:

  1. Been there quite a bit over the last few years. We have spent part of the last 3 winters in Las Vegas and whenever we had visitors we would take them to the dam. I love walking on the bridge but have a friend that did not like it at all.
    Boulder City is a fun town to visit. Lots of interesting sculptures line the streets.
    And we always make a stop at the Boulder City Brewery!!!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by! And you get to live - in the winter - near something I traveled quite far to see. I always find that interesting! Gotta love Boulder City - gonna find a way to spend more time there!

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  2. Went to the area earlier this year and, yes, the levels of the lake are really low. I went with visitors and they asked why the colors on the rock were so different. Enjoy going to the area once in a while. Went once during summer but I learned my lesson (never again).

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    1. I've never been in the summer but I can imagine the heat - living in the over 100's Southeast is enough for me! Thanks for visiting!

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  3. We recently moved back to the states from overseas and we now have a "stateside bucket list," and the Hoover Dam is on it. It just seems like a staple, right?!

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    1. Definitely! It's a very unique area - hope you make it there!

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  4. There's so much history connected to the Hoover Dam - such an incredible feat of engineering. One of these days...
    Would be love to visit - the views look incredible! Cool that they named it after Tillman.

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    1. I love all the history, too - but I'm big on history! And I liked they named it after Tillman also - cool that they took someone from each state that the bridge spans. Thanks for visiting!

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  5. I love that you oversimplified the construction wonder of the bridge - I appreciate it! We have low levels in our Ross River dam at the moment as well, so I am feeling for Lake Mead. I probably would have chickened out on walking across too!

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    1. I'm glad you liked the oversimplification - I'm more of a big picture person and if something is too detailed I tend to skip over it. But I know not everyone is like that. And maybe sometime I'll go back and not chicken out - we'll see! Thanks for visiting Jan!

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  6. I love that you oversimplified the construction wonder of the bridge - I appreciate it! We have low levels in our Ross River dam at the moment as well, so I am feeling for Lake Mead. I probably would have chickened out on walking across too!

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  7. I'm with you on the whole construction side of things Jill. I appreciate the wonder of it, but don't need to know the details. However, the history is always interesting, at least it is for me. Having said that, Hoover Dam is an incredible feat of engineering!

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    1. It is such an incredible feat of engineering - thanks for stopping by!

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  8. I loved Hoover Dam and visited it many times in the past. It's really impressive. I particularly enjoyed the history that surrounds it. Thank you for joining us for #TheWeeklyPostcard.

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  9. Jill, I've been to the Hoover Dam a few times and am always surprised how many people go there. It is such a cool attraction, surprisingly! I love it.

    Thanks again for linking up with #wkendtravelinspiration!

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    1. Thanks for visiting Corinne! And for the link-up!

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  10. WOW we love visiting Dams - what an amazing City Boulder is, built on a need and some of the houses are still the same. Boulder City Brewing Company looks so cute - what a great idea having a movie playing about the history of the dam.
    How was the food?
    Great pics of your day.

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    1. The food was good although we just got sandwiches - just a quick and light dinner. Would definitely love to visit Boulder City again - with more time this time!

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  11. This is such a fun area to visit and a great short day trip from Vegas. I'm married to an engineer too and he likes going here to marvel at this engineering masterpiece. We haven't done the tour though. M kids simply like crossing between Nevada and Arizona at the bridge. Thanks for the tip on Boulder City.

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