Tuesday, December 17, 2013

12/17 Hoover Dam

It has been almost 15 years since I visited Hoover Dam.  There are some major differences I noticed since then:
  • All traffic used to drive over the dam.  Now, there is a highway bridge a few hundred feet away that bypasses the dam.  I assume this was due to the amount of traffic and also security issues since 9/11.  There is a long list of vehicles that cannot go over the dam, including large trucks and buses with luggage. 
  • They now charge $10 for parking and $10 just to go inside the visitor center.  And no senior discount!  I think that is a bit steep for a national park site.  You can avoid the parking fee, however, by driving over the dam and parking in one of the lots of the other side, as I did with my big vehicle which does not fit in the parking garage.  It just means a slightly longer walk, but I am getting used to long walks as large vehicle lots are always out in the boondocks!
  • All vehicles now go through security inspections.  I had to let the officer look in my vehicle and into all of the locked storage compartments underneath, while I stood outside and unlocked and locked them.
  • They have moved the visitor's center closer to the parking garage and away from the bridge. A bit more walking.  The gift shop and café are in another building right next to the parking garage. 
Anyway, it was neat to drive across the dam, even though I did have to watch out for pedestrians and people backing into the roadway to take photos.

I ended up parking in a lot way in the distance between the two left towers!

Even after paying my $10 visitor center fee, I could not find a single person to ask how low the water level has to get before these water intake towers ran out of water.  The level seemed awfully low.

Last time I was here I took the power plant tour, but never got to this side of the dam.  I thought this water overflow tunnel was pretty impressive.  It was used to enable the Colorado River to bypass the area during construction and can be used in flood conditions.  Apparently, it was only used once during floods in 1983.

The tunnel goes under the road, but here it is on the other side as it goes through the mountain.

Looking at Lake Mead from the center of the dam.

I thought these brass doors were impressive.

You can still see how the cement for the dam was poured in blocks.

And this is the new bridge bypassing the dam.  I can't imagine how they managed with all the traffic previously, as this is really the only bridge in a very long way, and it was completed in 2010.

Headed back across the dam.
Can you guess what these bridges are for?  No roads up there and pedestrians are not allowed.

A clue is that it is built near a ridge.  This is a bridge built specifically for Bighorn Sheep.  These animals will not go through a tunnel or even a bridge where the approaches are lower because they prefer the safety of sticking to high ridges.

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