Length: 4.28 miles roundtrip to the end of the 5th tunnel.
Location: Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Directions from Las Vegas: Take U.S. Highway 93 south through Boulder City to Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Go left on Lakeshore Road and drive 0.4 miles and go right into the parking area. This is 0.1 miles past the Alan Bible Visitor Center entrance.
The historic railroad tunnel trail in lake mead national recreation area offers not only history but stunning views of Lake Mead along with the interesting experience of walking through five tunnels. The tunnels was created by railroad engineers to assist in the huge construction project of Hoover Dam. During the time of steam powered rail cars the roadbeds are built with gradual elevation gains, so it is assured that this is an easy hike, to walk your dog or even a great place to bring the bikes as well.
The segment of railroad that you will be hiking was used until 1961 when the final delivery was made, of a generator to the dam’s power plant. In 1962 the tracks was removed and sold as scrap.
I have heard of rattlesnakes being spotted along this trail, however I have yet to see one. Snakes are prone to be found sun bathing during the day, they enjoy the temperatures from 70 to 90 degrees.
The first tunnel is about one mile from the trailhead. Each tunnel is approximately 300 feet in length and about 25 feet in diameter. They were built bigger than standard tunnels to accommodate the large equipment and penstock sections that were being brought to the dam. Dropping on the ground and walls show that birds, as well as bats, make themselves home here.
The 5th and last tunnel is the longest, not being able to see the exit from the entrance making it the darkest. At the end of the 5th tunnel is a gate, which remains open and unlocked during daylight hours. You can continue all the way to the Hoover Dam parking garage from here, however remember that the gate at the 5th tunnel gets closed and locked at sunset so make sure you have enough time allotted.
- Rachel Maddow About the Damned Dam? (Did Big Government Build the Hoover Dam?) (gunnyg.wordpress.com)
- Hoover Be Dammed. (thefrugaltrekker.wordpress.com)
- Railroad Tunnel Trail (hikercarl.wordpress.com)