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Hoover Dam, an engineering marvel, is surrounded by natural wonders

Without the massive wall of concrete called Hoover Dam, Boulder City, Nev., wouldn't exist.

The town sprouted during the Great Depression to house thousands of workers, mainly men, who had headed west to help build the dam. People often bypass it on the drive from Las Vegas to visit the engineering marvel, but Boulder City offers a wealth of pursuits on land and on Lake Mead, the vast body of water created by the dam.

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The bed

The Boulder City Hotel, built in 1933 as upscale lodging for executives conducting business at the dam construction site, continues to welcome guests.
The Boulder City Hotel, built in 1933 as upscale lodging for executives conducting business at the dam construction site, continues to welcome guests. (Jay Jones)

Check out the Boulder Dam Hotel, built in 1933, with 21 small but well-maintained rooms. A real plus: The hotel houses the Boulder City/Hoover Dam Museum, a compact and well-curated museum chronicling the astonishing construction feat.

A little trivia: In the 1920s, Boulder Dam was the unofficial name for the huge public works project. In 1930, the secretary of the Interior formally named it after his boss, Republican President Herbert Hoover. After Democrat Franklin Roosevelt took office, the name reverted to Boulder in 1933. In 1947, Congress resolved to once again call it Hoover Dam. According to the local museum, an anonymous citizen suggested another name: Whogivza Dam.

The meal

Unique breakfast offerings make the Coffee Cup Cafe in downtown Boulder City a popular gathering spot.
Unique breakfast offerings make the Coffee Cup Cafe in downtown Boulder City a popular gathering spot. (Jay Jones)

Local eateries include the Dillinger, known for its craft beers and its burgers that are named for thugs such as Al Capone, Baby Face Nelson and Bugsy Siegel. For breakfast, consider the Coffee Cup Cafe.

The find

Denise Spidle of Henderson, Nev., rides down a zip-line on Bootleg Canyon Flightlinez in Boulder City.
Denise Spidle of Henderson, Nev., rides down a zip-line on Bootleg Canyon Flightlinez in Boulder City. (Brian Jones / Las Vegas News Bureau)

Recreational opportunities abound in the area. There are several hiking paths, including the Historic Railroad Tunnel Trail, and in Bootleg Canyon, home to another hiking trail, there's the Flightlinez zip-line.

If you want to go boating, the closest place to Boulder City that rents watercraft is Lake Mead Marina.

Miles one way from downtown L.A.

About 280

While its name has flip-flopped over the decades, Hoover Dam has remained a popular tourist attraction just outside Boulder City, Nev.
While its name has flip-flopped over the decades, Hoover Dam has remained a popular tourist attraction just outside Boulder City, Nev. (Brian Jones / Las Vegas News Bureau)

Resources

Boulder Dam Hotel, www.boulderdamhotel.com; Boulder City/Hoover Dam Museum, www.bcmha.org; the Dillinger, www.thedillinger.com; Coffee Cup Cafe, www.worldfamouscoffeecup.com; Historic Railroad Tunnel Trail, www.lat.ms/tunneltrail; Flightlinez zip-line, www.flightlinezbootleg.com; Lake Mead Marina,  www.boatinglakemead.com.

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