The observant traveler might notice that Boulder City has no casinos. Certainly, there are casinos on the outskirts of town, Railroad Pass on the Henderson side and the Hacienda on the way to Hoover Dam. But inside Boulder City, gambling is not allowed. The custom dates back to the 1930s, when the federal government created Boulder City to house the workers building Hoover Dam. The government decided gambling would not be allowed because it was a federal facility. The town's master plan included shady parks, residential neighborhoods, and a downtown area that today maintains its historic character.
Boulder City, 21 miles southeast of Las Vegas on U.S. 93, is a hub for those touring Hoover Dam, eight miles east, and Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Downtown, visitors can stroll the streets and learn about the area's history and attractions at the Boulder City/Hoover Dam Museum, which is located in the recently renovated Boulder Dam Hotel. The hotel is also home to the Boulder City Chamber of Commerce, a restaurant, retail shops, and perhaps ghosts from the 1930s. The town has several picturesque parks.
When Hoover Dam was built in the early 1930s, its primary purpose was to control downstream flooding of the Colorado River. Also, its giant turbines would provide electricity for parts of several states. Today Hoover Dam is one of the major tourist attractions in Southern Nevada. A visitor center offers movies on the dam's construction as well as tours down into the dam and to the power plant. The center, located on the dam's Nevada side, averages more than 2,400 visitors a day. The dam has new concessions and a dock for some sightseeing excursions offered by Lake Mead Cruises.
More than 4 million cubic yards of concrete were used to build the dam, which is 726 feet high. Its width at the top is 45 feet. At the bottom, the dam is 660 feet wide.
The giant lake that filled behind Hoover Dam in the mid-1930s was named Lake Mead after Elwood Mead, a former commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The lake is the centerpiece of Lake Mead National Recreation Area, which attracts millions of visitors each year.
For visitors, the park's headquarters is the Alan Bible Visitor Center, which has exhibits, books, and rangers on duty to answer questions about the area's geology, wildlife, recreation, and history. The visitor center is midway between Boulder City and Hoover Dam. The lake has several marinas, which have restaurants as well as boat rentals. The Desert Princess paddlewheeler makes trips between Hoover Dam and its home port, Lake Mead Cruises Landing near Lake Mead Marina.