Established in 1931 as a temporary home for the builders of the Hoover Dam, Boulder City was intended to serve as a model city that would represent a better, brighter future for a nation in the midst of the Great Depression. Although surrounded by it on all fronts, Boulder City was established with an anti-gaming ordinance that interestingly still stands today.
With more than 1 million visitors touring Hoover Dam every year, Boulder City is most definitely a welcoming oasis just a few miles away and a good place to call home while you check out this modern day wonder of the world. The hospitable town combines a charming atmosphere with surprising amenities and attractions, including the fascinating Boulder Dam Hotel. This perfectly preserved abode was built in 1933 to host visiting government officials and dignitaries during the dam’s construction. Other than a handful of US Presidents, this perfectly preserved abode has hosted quite the slew of notable celebrities throughout the years, like Bette Davis, Shirley Temple and Howard Hughes. On the National Register of Historic Places, the Boulder Dam Hotel is smack dab in the center of historic Boulder City and certainly worth a visit.
Also worth a tour is the Boulder City/Hoover Dam Museum—conveniently located on the second floor of the Boulder Dam Hotel—which walks visitors through the stock market crash, the Great Depression, and of course, the impact of the mighty Hoover Dam. Then there’s the Nevada State Railroad Museum just up the street with perfectly restored locomotives and walkable sections of the original 1931 track used to ferry materials from the town site to the dam during construction years.
The layout of Boulder City itself lends for an interesting stroll, offering a glimpse of how dam builders lived and how the town was constructed in a distinctly structured fashion to separate citizen classes of the period. Peruse the entire Historic Boulder City main drag on foot to truly take in the city’s frozen-in-time, art deco mastery. The roadside inns, spectacular city parks and diners seem are a true nod to classic retro, and some of the best neon in the state can be found in the downtown area.
Boulder City has also developed a reputation as an outdoor activity center, with an impressive system of mountain bike trails in Bootleg Canyon, aptly named as the place where bootleggers secretively produced liquor during Prohibition. Some of southern Nevada’s best mountain biking can be enjoyed in Bootleg Canyon, and if you really want to kick up the adrenaline rush a notch, partake in a 2,000 foot, four-course zip line experience at Flightlinez Bootleg Canyon. Visitors can also get an impressive view of the alluring Mojave Desert, Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam with Papillion Helicoptor Tours, headquartered in Boulder City. The town also boasts quite the lineup of annual events, including the Best Dam Barbeque, Fourth of July Damboree, Art in the Park, and Santa’s Electric Light Parade.
Besides the in-town interests, Boulder City is a great launching pad for another nearby wonder…majestic Lake Mead. As largest man-made reservoir in the nation, beautiful Lake Mead was created with the completion of the Hoover Dam and is now a recreational paradise for boaters and watersport enthusiasts. Houseboating, water skiing and wakeboarding and fishing are all activities you can find virtually year-round on the lake. On the other side of the Hoover Dam, the Colorado River flows freely and offers visitors exciting rafting, kayaking and hot springing options through the spectacular Black Rock Canyon.