Destination tips

Escape Vegas: visit the Hoover Dam and Grand Canyon

By December 21, 2011 November 8th, 2018 No Comments

If Las Vegas gets too much for you, don’t despair. The fact that this utterly man-made attraction is in the middle of a desert means you’re not far from some awesome natural attractions – two in particular. Both are well worth a visit, even a flying one.

Just 35 miles from the bright lights is the longest man-made reservoir in the US, held back by the dam named after the 31st President, Herbert Hoover. Lake Mead is 110 miles long and a great place for a bit of gentle boating, either by a kayak you power yourself, or on a giant paddle-wheel boat.

You can get to the dam several ways from Vegas: drive your hire car, or take a luxury coach tour, or even be driven in a pink Jeep.

Others like to see things from up high and take a plane or, better still, book a helicopter tour from the many operators based at McCarran International airport in Vegas. The majority of these tours will show you the dam and its lake, and then head another 250 miles to the beauties of the Grand Canyon.

Of course, that does mean that you can’t get up close and personal with the Hoover’s mighty dam walls, its Visitor Centre, fascinating history and underground power-generating technology.

A new walkway provides a spectacular view of the dam, 900 ft up above the waters – perfect for super snaps.

Cameras are essential at the next beauty spot. Not for nothing is the Grand Canyon one of the seven natural wonders of the world. 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide and a mile deep, this spectacular landmark carved by the mighty Colorado River draws five million visitors a year.

Take a helicopter from Vegas and you can be set down on the canyon floor after a flight that will take the breath away.

On the west rim of the canyon, you can have another unique experience. The local Hualapai tribe have constructed a SkyWalk that projects 70 ft over the edge of the canyon. What makes it really thrilling is the glass floor of the walkway! Hold your breath, it’s a long way down.

Maybe if you’re lucky, you’ll see a mighty Condor spreading its wings as it soars through the canyon. Whether you do or not, the views are camera-worthy in every direction, especially as the sun sets and the rocks glow redder and redder.

The Grand Canyon is part of a National Park, so there are plenty of places to find out more about its history, geology and wildlife, as well as Rangers to quiz too. They don’t just man the Visitor Centres, but patrol and maintain the trails of different levels of difficulty, both on the canyon rim, or down to its floor. If you are making more than a quick day visit, there are overnight mule trips to take you closer to nature.

If you like your creature comforts then a canyon tour by air-conditioned Hummer might be more your mode of transport.

Of course, if you’re flying then you can do both the Dam and Canyon in one flight, and be back in Vegas in time for a night of whatever takes your fancy.

If you’ve been wowed by the Hoover Dam or Grand Canyon, let us know any tips you’ve learned for making it a truly spectacular day out from Vegas. We’d love to hear from you.

Images courtesy of matsmolin and vittoriof

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