The Historic Railroad Trail at the Hoover Dam in Boulder City, Nevada is an easy 3.8-mile out-and-back trail with stunning views of Lake Mead and historic railroad tunnels to hike through.
Trail Name: Hoover Dam Historic Railroad Trail
Trailhead Location: Hoover Dam, Boulder City, NV
Allowed activities: Hiking, biking in most areas of trail, birding, picnicking
Forbidden activities: no Littering, no off trail hiking, no firearms, no fires, no motorized vehicles, no camping, no drones.
Hours: Rail trail is open during daylight hours only. Hoover Dam area is open from 5:00am to 9:00pm. Hoover Dam parking garage is open from 8:00am to 5:15pm. Hoover Dam is closed Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Warning: There is very limited shade along this trail. It is recommended that the hike be done either in the early mornings or late afternoons to avoid the high mid-day temperatures. This is a desert environment, temperatures can be extreme, hikers should plan accordingly. Wear a hat, dress in layers with long pants and long sleeves, wear sunscreen, carry water and take advantage of water stations along the trail.
Parking and fees: There is plenty of parking at the Dam. Parking on Nevada side of Hoover Dam is $10.00 per day per vehicle. Parking on the Arizona side of the Dam, in the upper parking lots is free. There is limited parking near the trailhead just after the visitor drop off area. There are no fees to use the rail trail. Visitors who wish to tour Hoover Dam or the visitor center will be charged a fee. For more details, see the link below:
Pets: Dogs are allowed on the rail trail as long as they are leashed and waste is carried out with the hiker or deposited in special waste containers. Leashes must not be longer than 6 feet in length. Only trained service animals for persons with disabilities are permitted on the Dam. Comfort animals are not permitted.
Accessibility: This hike is wheelchair and stroller friendly.
Sanitation: There are restrooms and drinking water at Hoover Dam. There are trash bins throughout the park. There is a port-a-potty at the start of the rail trail outside the visitor drop off area, along with a water station. Another restroom and water station can be found along the trail just outside of the entrance to Tunnel #5.
Trail information: All persons visiting Hoover Dam will need to pass through a security checkpoint. There are two trailheads for this hike. One is at the top level of the Hoover Dam parking garage (36.016676,-114742098) on the side farthest from the dam. There are information placards posted at the entry to the trail. The other trailhead is outside of the park at the end of the cement walkway and across the street (36.017499,-114.743134). This trailhead can be accessed when the Hoover Dam parking garage is closed. The trail is marked by small square markers that are white lettered on a brown background that say “trail”. There are several other signs along the trail reminding hikers NOT to go off the trail. For more information about the trail and a map, please see the link below:
Length and features: This is an easy 3.8 mile trail done as an out and back hike with a loop section available. This rail trail has great views of the surrounding area, fun railroad tunnels to pass through and stunning views of Lake Mead. There are multiple educational placards scattered along the trail, with topics ranging in subjects about Hoover Dam, its history and uses, to information about the local plants and wildlife. From the Hoover Dam parking garage, the trail starts off as a poured cement path with handrails that wind up and between colorful boulders. Information placards along the path inform hikers about the railroad and the cement operations that once existed at the Dam. Bicycles are not allowed on this short section of the trail or at the Dam, but are allowed on the dirt section of the rail trail. At the top of this cement section, hikers will pass through a gate to a gravel plaza, cross the street to a larger chain link fence and gate, and onto the rail trail. There is a water station here for hikers to fill up water bottles, a place to lock up bicycles and a large Port-a-potty restroom. There are several state maintenance buildings along the trail and the trail also serves as an access road for authorized personnel to these buildings. The rail trail surface is wide, flat and has a dirt gravel base. There are multiple opportunities for hikers to stop and read the educational placards while viewing the large pieces of equipment that used to be installed in the Dam. There is a shortcut with a 12.5% grade, or hikers can loop around for a slightly longer hike with less of an incline. There are railroad tunnels that hikers can pass through along this hike. At the present time, only Tunnel #5 and #4 could be accessed. Near the entrance to Tunnel #5, hikers will find another water station, a restroom, emergency telephone, a shaded picnic area and information placards about the trail. This hike terminated at the entrance of tunnel #3 because it is currently closed and unsafe to pass through. There is no safe way to circumnavigate this passage. Hikers wishing to access Tunnel #1 and #2 must do so from the trailhead that starts at the Lake Mead Visitor Center.
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